The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Allez Cuisine!!

This morning's nice anonymous note reminded me that I wanted to post about my recent victory... I am now "Iron Chef: Eastern Shore Sweet Corn"!!!!

We had our Republican Club picnic last week (in addition to being on the Central Committee for Queen Anne's County, I'm also treasurer of the Republican Club). The QAC Republican Club has been tremendously active in the past year - doing at least one event each month (generally alternating between the purely fun and social and the fascinatingly fun and educational), working to strengthen and grown the base.

This month, it was the Summer Picnic, which was a great success. We had a bunch of people gather in Mowbray Park on Kent Island, we had a roast pig (from It's The Pits, which is, as far as I'm concerned, the preeminent barbecue outfit in the region. The pig was fantastic, and I think their brisket is the finest north of Texas), we had a bluegrass band.

And we had an Iron Chef competition. This is something we'd been discussing for a few months - and Deanna Couch and I have been trash-talking (in a fun way, obviously) since we decided that this was going to happen. The "secret" ingredient was Eastern Shore Sweet Corn - which had to arrive onsite in the husk.

Barb Pivec also joined in the fun.

What complicated things, obviously, was that all of this had to be done in the great outdoors, which meant I had to schlep my key kitchen tools from the house, plus get a portable stove and a new small grill.

Here's the pic:

It actually was a fairly straightforward proposition -we had the picnic table as the prep area (corn to be husked and broken down at the far end, meats to be prepped at the near end, plating on the opposite side of the table). You can see the corn at the far right of the picture, and below the cooking table is my cooler bag.

I'd given a lot of thought to what I could make. I've got this great corn fritter recipe that I love, and had considered a corn/crab fritter napoleon BLT (actually, the more I think about that, the more I like the idea...). I'd also considered a corn and heirloom tomato gazpacho. But sometimes the fritters can be tricky - especially with a new stove. As I'm fond of recounting - what happens when you add corn to hot oil? It pops. And I've gotten some serious burns from not being as cognizant of that possibility as I ought to be.

And I dismissed the gazpacho, because I didn't know what the electricity situation would be.

So, I decided to pull from my repertoire. I've been making this really fantastic creamed corn dish for the last year or so - very simple (6 ingredients, including the corn, and the most amount of time in the recipe is spent frying bacon and prepping the corn). Speed is crucial in this competition, and so simple and quick is better. I decided to supplement the dish with andouille and MD blue crab meat, and make it into a cajun creamed corn dish called "Maque Choux".

The theme for my dishes would be "Red, White, and Blue": red for the heat, white for the sweet corn, and blue... well, in this dish the blue was the blue crab.

I'd initially considered making it with cajun tasso (a spiced ham), but couldn't find tasso in the DC area. Andouille would have to do.

The second dish was a little more complicated, but not much: Pork and Corn Tacos al Pastor with an Ancho Mole Barbecue sauce. This dish required a few extra steps: rubbing and grilling the boneless, country-style pork chops, letting them rest and cool, then chopping them up into a small dice, sauteeing them with their barbecue sauce (which was made on the stove). Then I had to put them in blue corn tortillas (see? That's the blue in this dish!), and fry those up.

But it all came together - I even got the dishes plated and done with three minutes to spare. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have omitted the blue crab meat from the maque choux - honestly, it was a bit distracting. And I might not have gone through the trouble of finding the blue corn tortillas (which were a real pain the patoot to find...).

And I won!!!! It was a squeaker, to be sure - Barb Pivec made this great corn salad, and a corn chowder with corn fritters (she had a bit more control over her's than I've had with mine). And De Couch made a very elegant and basic grilled corn, as well was an even-more-elegant, but more complicated "individual clam bake". It was very cool - each foil pouch had a clam, a shrimp, a piece of corn, and a slice of kielbasa. There was a wine-broth steam source, and each pouch was wrapped and steamed on the grill.

As I said, very cool.

Here I am serving up my dishes to some of the attendees. On the table is the saute pan with the Al Pastor meat. You can see the blue corn tortillas on a plate in front of the cast iron pan. And the remnants of the maque choux are in the pan on top of the grill.

You might notice that I'm wearing a uniform shirt from Ben's Chili Bowl (I need to see if I've ever dedicated a post to Ben's...). One of my buddies, Nizam Ali, was kind enough to loan me one of the staff shirts for my competition. It brought me the good luck that I'd hoped it would.

It was a great deal of fun, overall. I'd love to do it again.

If you want the recipes, let me know...

- Andrew Langer

- Andrew Langer

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Blogger Teri said...

Nice Blog :)

August 26, 2007 9:42 AM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...


Your blog is fascinating!

August 26, 2007 10:00 AM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...

And for everyone - here's an additional post in the blogosphere about the picnic...

August 26, 2007 10:01 AM

Blogger Cajun Tiger said...

Congrats bud...sorry you couldn't find the tasso in yankee land, but i'm sure the andouille gave it a good flavor.

September 04, 2007 8:31 AM

Anonymous Bruce said...

A nice jewish boy making creamed corn with bacon and crab and then pork and corn tacos? Oy!

October 26, 2007 4:29 PM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...

Sssshhhhh - don't tell my family. Oy gevalt!

You know I keep about as kosher as a bacon cheeseburger served with a side of shrimp...

October 26, 2007 7:29 PM


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