6 strips of bacon, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp. Canola or vegetable oil

6 ears fresh white or yellow corn on the cob

1 stick butter or margarine

1 large white onion, minced or grated

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1/3 cup bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 can Contadina tomato paste (6 oz. size)

1 small can tomato sauce

1 can Rotel tomatoes with chilies and can liquid

2 bay leaves

1 qt. vegetable broth or homemade shrimp stock

3 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning

Salt and red pepper to taste

2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped

6 cups cooked buttered rice

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 bunch parsley, minced

First thing you do is take a 5-quart Dutch oven or oval roaster , heat it over a medium flame, pour in the canola oil, drop in the chopped bacon, and gently fry down the bacon until it becomes semi-crisp.

While that is happening, take a really sharp knife, cut the kernels of corn off the cobs, and soak them briefly in cold water to plump them up (this should take about 10 minutes or so).

Then, when the bacon is rendered out, drain the kernels really well, drop them into the roaster, increase the heat to high, and stir-fry them until they just begin to toast on the edges.

At that point, take a slotted spoon, quickly remove them from the pot, place them into a large bowl, and allow them to cool for a while.

After the corn is out of the pot, drop in the margarine, heat it to a sizzle, and saute the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and flour until the veggies soften slightly.

When that happens, stir in the tomato paste and fry down the entire mixture until the paste starts to darken.

Then add in the tomato sauce, the Rotels (with its can liquid), the bay leaves, and the vegetable broth (or shrimp stock) and stir everything together until you get a nice smooth consistency.

It's at this stage that you now season the pot either with seafood seasoning or with salt and pepper, depending upon your preference.

Then immediately increase the fire to medium high and bring the gravy to a gentle boil (stir continually at this point to keep the gravy from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning).

It's now time to put the corn kernels back into the pot, mix them into the gravy completely, and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Then immediately reduce the heat to simmer and let the corn cook over a low fire for about an hour and a half or until the corn kernels puff. Oh peek inside the pot only if you absolutely must!

Finally, just about 20 minutes before you're ready to eat, drop in the shrimp, which should be chopped into small segments if you had to settle for extra large shrimp (like an 11-15 or 16-20 count).

Then after stirring one more time to equally distribute all the ingredients in the stew, let the pot simmer once more for about 10 minutes until the shrimp turn a solid pink and slowly release all of their essence into the gravy do not, however, overcook them or they will become tough and rubbery.

To serve, I suggest that you put a little more than a half cup of hot rice into the center of a warm plate and ladle a generous amount of corn stew over the top. All that's left before you dive in is to garnish the dish with the green onions and parsley and enjoy it while it's piping hot. I'd serve a freshly-baked, hot, crusty roll on the side for dippin'.


Chef's Notes:

1. For a really intense corn flavor, after cutting the kernels from the cob take the spine of the knife and scrap it down the length of the cob to extract the 'corn milk.' Fold that into the pot when the kernels are added.

2. You can make your own shrimp stock by gently boiling the washed shrimp heads and shells in about a gallon of bottled water for about a half hour. I recommend that you strain the stock before using it.

3. If you can't find good fresh corn on the cob at your supermarket, it's perfectly okay to buy a couple of bags of fresh-frozen corn and use them instead. Just try to avoid doing this dish with canned corn you lose the crispness in the can.

4. Maquechoux is an altogether different recipe from corn stew. Corn stew is believed to be a Cajun/Creole dish, born on the bayou and introduced to the city. Maquechoux is an American Indian dish, using maise, tomatoes, and cream.