It never occurred to me to serve a stew in the summer. But here’s how it happened. I am getting ready to go out to the beach for some good long stretches this summer. As the departure date approaches, I’ve been trying to pare down what’s sitting in the freezer. I have a confession to make. Provided the food is well-sealed, you can keep stuff in the freezer far longer than anyone thinks you can. But raw ingredients don’t fare as well as what’s been cooked. And what I specifically had to cook were some Chicken thighs and sausage. I did some research and came up with this recipe from Gourmet that’s about 10 years old. Not only did it use my chicken and sausage, it was full of summer vegetables, a gorgeous colorful dish that was stew-like and very satisfying.
“Maque Choux” is a Cajun dish which likely has both French and Native American roots. It calls for corn on the cob but since it’s a little early in the corn season, I used a bag of frozen kernels that I could not find fault with. If you make this a little later in the season, by all means use fresh. But it sure worked with the frozen variety. The other note is that this is easily made in advance and re-heated. You can control the amount of liquid by simmering it gently til it reduces. Or you can “juice it up” with a little chicken stock if it needs more liquid. And voila, you’ve got a one dish dinner that tastes fantastic and fresh. Just serve it in a big soup bowl with a loaf of good bread to soak up the juices. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Chicken and Sausage Maque Choux
16 ounces of frozen corn kernels or the kernels of 4 ears of corn.
1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs with skin, excess fat trimmed
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 sweet onions, chopped
1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large celery rib, sliced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or Shichimi Togarashi
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 pints), halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil *
If using fresh corn, cut kernels off cobs and, working over a large bowl, scrape cobs with knife to extract all juices. Discard cobs. If using frozen put it into in a large bowl.
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy 8-qt. pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown sausage, transferring to a plate. Brown chicken in batches, transferring to another plate.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot, then sauté onions, bell peppers, celery, thyme, cayenne, and salt to taste over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add corn with juices and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and sausage.
Nestle chicken into mixture and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes. If the maque choux is soupier than you like, simmer uncovered until juices are reduced. If it’s too dry, add a little chicken stock until the liquid comes to the level you’d like. Stir in basil (if using) and season with salt and pepper.