Maque choux, pronounced mock shoe, is a vegetable side dish popular in the South region of the United States, particularly among the residents of southern Louisiana. The ingredients commonly include corn, onions, green bell pepper and tomatoes. Some recipes call for the addition of garlic and celery. All the ingredients are normally braised until they soften and then hot sauce or cayenne pepper is added to enhance the flavors of the vegetables.
The origins of the term are not clearly defined. The phrase can be traced to Cajun French and may have been influenced by the word machica, which is a Spanish term for a traditional dish of toasted corn meal. Other sources cite the Cajun French word maigrchou, which means thin child, as the root for the term, based on a variation of maque choux that is commonly thinned with milk or cream and resembles a soup. Another possible origin of the phrase is moque-chou, which when translated from the French language means mock cabbage, indicating that cabbage may once have been included in the recipe.
Some food historians attribute the origin of the dish to the combined cuisines of the Acadian French, which are generally referred to today as Cajuns, and Native Americans. When the Acadians immigrated from the eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia to Louisiana, the Native Americans introduced them to corn. Corn soon became a main ingredient in other local dishes and was frequently included in crawfish boils. It is often thought that the term was the French interpretation of a Native American word.
The basic maque choux recipe has remained fairly stable over the years. A number of older versions of the recipe directed the cook to scrape kernels of corn from the cob and then scrape the cob again. This method released the natural “milk” from the kernels and cob and added silkiness to the final dish.
Later recipes omitted this instruction and suggested using one can of regular corn and one can of creamed corn to the recipe. Other versions of recipes for maque choux recommend the addition of cream or half-and-half to the vegetable mixture to enhance its richness. Lighter recipes frequently called for a pat of butter to be stirred into the dish right before serving.
To transform maque choux into a main dish, some cooks add meat, poultry or seafood. In Louisiana, crawfish or shrimp are popular additions. Other common extras include chicken, beef or pork. Leftover vegetable maque choux is frequently added to cornbread to add texture.