When I ran across a recipe for chicken maque choux in the pages of Gourmet 15 years ago, it became a summer standard. However I misplaced the recipe somewhere (probably with the socks from the dryer) and have tinkered with the recipe I remembered over the years to what it is now. It probably isn’t a true maque choux (a braised corn, tomato and pepper dish of French Acadian, Native American origin) or one Louisianans would endorse, but it’s fabulous—to date it’s the best summer dish I know. It uses fresh corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers and garlic.
I picked up some chicken quarters, the most economical cut of chicken there is, and rubbed them with a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, garlic and onion powder, and sauteed to a crispy brown. They were then nestled in the sauteed vegetable mixture, covered and baked. The corn mixture soaked up the yummy chicken juices for something my Southern neighbors would call a sort of “fried corn” with chicken.
There was an abundance of patty pan squash at the farmers’ market, which I picked up for a buck a pound. I could have added it to the maque choux, but as they were beautiful miniature specimens, I decided to saute them and serve alongside the maque choux instead. (Also, it’s always best to limit “stuff” in the corn for the kids).
The chicken was a brand called “Smart Chicken,” labeled “air-chilled, no water added, natural and raised without antibiotics.” It was on sale last week and not what I usually buy, but boy, by the time I was done with it, it was indeed some smart chicken.
—By Jill Melton