Tag Archives: cajun

Jane’s Seafood–New Iberia, LA

Being in south Louisiana I was really expecting some fiery crawfish with out of this world flavor.I was hoping that Jane’s Seafood was going to scratch that itch.

I ordered the extra spicy mudbugs to be sure. Sadly, they were only medium in heat intensity (they made my lips cherry red and I drank a whole pitcher of iced tea, but the residual flavor was lacking.

The tail meat was pretty bland by itself. I don’t know if they aren’t soaking them, but that is my impression. Further, the potatoes and corn were not cooked in the boil–another hit at blandness. I also was expecting to see boiled onions, garlic, lemon, and maybe even orange, but I think they just use standard crab boil.

Don’t get me wrong, they were tasty, but I expected much more my first time eating crawfish so far south. This place is popular and they have good food, but the crawfish ain’t a patch to Crawfish Hole #2 in Dixie Inn, LA.  Nevertheless, it was a good day as I had a pile of crawfish.


 

Don’t Rue the Roux (A Homophonically Hackneyed Glorification of Gravy)

I’m a gravy animal. I like gravy on anything. In my world gravy deserves the coveted foundational spot on the food pyramid. But the pyramid I grew up with has been has been replaced with something bizarre.  I first encountered this new layout at Kroger when I saw some strange crop circle-esque food diagram.

I couldn’t decipher this new age pyramid as there is no base to build on. That’s not a proper food pyramid. I learned about nutrition from Slim Goodbody, the stalwart, creepy body suit wearing crusader. Mr. Goodbody may not be a gravy advocate, but I’m not deterred.

I’m such a gravy proponent that years ago I used to have listeners consume a thirty-two ounce glass of cream gravy when I was a disc jockey.  If you are a radio personality and need a game that is devoid of originality but will make some listeners say, “Eww,” you can steal this bit that I undoubtedly stole from some unimaginative liner jock who used it as a vehicle to giveaway blue plate lunches during his lunchtime request hour.  It’s amazing the lengths some people go to score a CD from some never was band like Zug Izland. Remember that band? Me neither.

I’m definitely no expert on sauces, but I have gained enough experience to make a half decent gel of grease and flour. Making roux for gumbo is a skill I have yet to perfect.  Gravy is easy.  At least for me, death-defying dark roux is not only challenging, but all of that stirring can be exhausting.  

I love a really dark roux, but I have had gumbo where the roux was scorched.  Needless to say, that restaurant isn’t around anymore.  When I make a roux, I always plan on making it the color of dark chocolate.  Once it looks like peanut butter I start getting nervous, and I invariably chicken out when the roux almost looks like milk chocolate.  

Justin Wilson terrifies me with this über-dark roux.  I can’t find the rest of the clip to see if the gumbo turned out.  I’m certain it was perfect, but next time I set out to make a dark roux, I’ll have to battle another bout of flop sweat or I’ll get tired and ditch the whole gumbo idea and bust open a can of biscuits and make a pan of cream gravy.

Remoulade Sauce

Photo courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.
Photos courtesy of Stacy Crumpley.

I’m a big fan of remoulade sauce. It seems that you have a good chance of getting remoulade accompanying anything that is labeled as ‘cajun’ in a restaurant. Have you ever had fried alligator with a nice remoulade? No? Then you haven’t lived. I made this specifically to make a meatloaf sandwich. It was delicious. This recipe is adapted from Serious Eats. I followed the recipe pretty closely (which is rare), and I was pleased with the results. It tasted nothing like remoulade I’ve ever had, and it had a nice bite. I just wish I had horseradish to really punch it up.

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

2 Mezzetta Garlic & Dill Peperoncini peppers, minced

1 tablespoon Mezzetta sundried tomatoes in olive oil, minced

1 dash cayenne pepper

Method:

Combine ingredients and let rest in the refrigerator for an hour so the flavors can blend. IMG_5292-2

Red Beans and Rice

There is nothing better than spicy Louisiana cuisine. I like it all. Gumbo may be the state cuisine, but I’m sure red beans and rice run a close second.

Wikipedia states that the red bean originated in Haiti. I spent two weeks there and we ate diri am pwa like it was going out of style. Everyday, lunch was diri ak pwa, the Haitian version of red beans and rice. To add variation to lunch, I added scotch bonnet sauce, ketchup, Tabasco, anything. Americans are so spoiled. We rarely eat the same meal twice in a week. Haitians eat what they can get. They don’t have the luxury of variety.

I need variety and it definitely shows in my cooking. My beans vary each time I cook them. It all depends on what I have on hand. I tried to get some beef bones yesterday to render out the delicious marrow, but I had to settle for pork shank. I’ve also used ham hocks. I think they are pig knuckles. They taste great.

I decided to write down today’s recipe in case I want to recreate it. (Who am I kidding, this is probably the last time I see it).

Ingredients:

2 oz finely diced Tasso
1 slice smoked ham shank
1 link smoked sausage
1 12 oz Pictsweet seasoning blend
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 cup Bordeaux (or any other red wine)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Gebhardt brand)
1 tablespoon beef base

Method:

Soak beans overnight.

Heat Dutch oven and brown ham shank. Dice the Tasso and the smoked sausage. Add to pot and add EVOO.

Once browned, add the Pictsweet chopped vegetables. I hate using frozen vegetables because they steam while you try to sauté them. When I am feeling puny, though, I’ll take the occasional shortcut.

Add bay leaves, minced garlic, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Sauté until onions are translucent. Add red wine to deglaze pot (if the steaming veggies haven’t done so already).

Add beans and fill pot with water and cover.

Simmer beans for approximately one hour with occasional stirring. Remove shank. Dice meat and return to pot. Add beef base.

Cover and simmer approximately 30 minutes. Smash about 1/4 cup of beans against side of pot with wooden spoon to give a creamy consistency and season to taste.

Serve over rice with some crusty French bread.

Sausage Egg Salad Sandwich

The sausage really enhances the egg flavor.
The sausage really enhances the egg flavor.

Every Easter, we end up with a couple of dozen boiled eggs.  Boiled eggs are great, but what else can you do?  You can always make deviled eggs.  I wanted a simple sandwich today, so I made egg salad.

I have never made egg salad before, but there’s nothing to it.  Eggs, mayo, mustard, etc.  I did not use any recipes for inspiration for this endeavor. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write it down.  DO NOT skip the smoked sausage.  The sausage really brings out the egg flavor.  And the sausage flavor.

Ingredients:

9 boiled eggs

4 Mezzetta peperoncini

1/2 link Down Home smoked sausage

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

Note:  I have not received any promotional consideration for any of the above products.  These are products I  prefer.  I certainly won’t shill a product I don’t believe in.

Method:

Who can resist smoked sausage?  Not me.
Who can resist smoked sausage? Not me.

Cut sausage link in half and throw in a skillet to heat up.  While the sausage is sizzling, chop boiled eggs and place into a bowl.  Mince peperoncini and add to the eggs.  Dump in paprika, cajun seasoning, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Once the sausage is good and sizzly, take one half of the sausage and half it again.  Then, chop those two quarters and throw the pieces into the egg mixture.  The other half sausage link makes a great snack while you are making egg salad.  Or you can give it to the kids since they probably won’t be eating any egg salad.

Mix the ingredients together and throw on some bread.  Enjoy.

I would really appreciate any feedback when you try this recipe.  It’s a work in progress.  I may cut back on the cajun seasoning because of the salt content, but my wife said it was perfect.  I also think it may do well with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, but that is for another culinary adventure.

Sausage Egg Salad Sandwich

 

Every Easter, we end up with a couple of dozen boiled eggs.  Boiled eggs are great, but what else can you do?  You can always make deviled eggs.  I wanted a simple sandwich today, so I made egg salad.

I have never made egg salad before, but there’s nothing to it.  Eggs, mayo, mustard, etc.  I did not use any recipes for inspiration for this endeavor. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write it down.  DO NOT skip the smoked sausage.  The sausage really brings out the egg flavor.  And the sausage flavor.

Ingredients:

9 boiled eggs

4 peperoncini

1/2 link smoked sausage

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

Note:  I have not received any promotional consideration for any of the above products.  These are products I use regularly prefer.  I certainly won’t shill a product I don’t believe in.

Method:

Cut sausage link in half and throw in a skillet to heat up.  While the sausage is sizzling, chop boiled eggs and place into a bowl.  Mince peperoncini and add to the eggs.  Dump in paprika, cajun seasoning, garlic powder, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Once the sausage is good and sizzly, take one half of the sausage and half it again.  Then, chop those two quarters and throw the pieces into the egg mixture.  The other half sausage link makes a great snack while you are making egg salad.  Or you can give it to the kids since they probably won’t be eating any egg salad.

Mix the ingredients together and throw on some bread.  Enjoy.


I would really appreciate any feedback when you try this recipe.  It’s a work in progress.  I may cut back on the cajun seasoning because of the salt content, but my wife said it was perfect.  I also think it may do well with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, but that is for another culinary adventure.

Chicken, Pork, and Sausage Jambalaya

I’ve been a fan of spicy cajun food my entire adult life. I began teaching myself to cook sixteen years ago and have enjoyed trying to make cajun dishes that were palatable. It is no coincidence that I started my cooking journey a week after I met my wife.

I’m sure it’s a typical story. I met Heather 12/11/2007. The following weekend she invited me over for dinner. Man, was I stoked! I love food. I can’t believe I met a woman who could cook.

I showed up for dinner at the appointed time and was surprised that we were eating Hamburger Helper. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Hamburger Helper, but on a first meal at home you put your best foot forward. That night I decided that I was going to learn how to cook. The following weekend I began my foray.

That first meal was one I made one or two times prior. We had spaghetti with homemade sauce. It was quite tasty as I watched a friend make it numerous times. This friend was a good cook, but he never let me get any hands on experience. I watched him intently for two years as I was surfing his couch.

When I first started cooking, say the first five years, not all meals were as tasty as that spaghetti. I worked until midnight and the first year or two, I would go to Albertsons after work and make pot roast, pork chops, even chicken fried steak. I’d normally eat around four am and it was common for me to crank out some meal complete with mashed potatoes and gravy. Many of these meals were disappointments, and occasionally were downright inedible. Today, I rarely make something that embarrasses me to feed to my dogs.  If I get distracted the dogs may have some awful treat to enjoy.

My culinary skills have vastly improved over the past three years. I have many friends who are professional chefs and they are always happy to give me cooking tips. I like to tell people that I’m finally becoming an adequate cook.

Today, I had to make jambalaya for a catering event. I’ve made it before, but I haven’t been happy with previous efforts. There is money on the line here so I have to make sure it is acceptable.

I looked through recipes and decided I could adapt this one. I made several changes and I hope you are happy with this endeavor. I hope you try it and tell me what you think.

I just remembered that I forgot bay leaves. I intended to add maybe seven to the pot. Remember that this recipe is for 50. You can use some fancy math like division to reduce the amount. I’d do it for you except I’m lazy.

Here’s the ingredient list:
5 pounds pork loin
15 pounds bone in chicken thighs (after deboning you will have around ten pounds of meat)
5 pounds sausage
3/4 pound bacon
2 large onions
3 bell peppers
1 bunch celery
3 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp chili powder (I used New Mexico Hatch chili powder I ordered online)
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp dry thyme
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
10 cups rice
21 cups water
6-8 ounces chicken base

Add all dry ingredients in a bowl to add later.

Marinating pork loin.
Marinating pork loin.

Trim pork loin and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Marinate in soy sauce, mustard powder, and white pepper.  I didn’t use a lot of any of these ingredients, just enough to coat.  Marinate in refrigerator for two hours.

Place chicken thighs on baking sheets.  Cover liberally with Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning.  Roast at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Chicken cooling.  Don't forget to debone.
Chicken cooling. Don’t forget to debone.

Remove chicken from oven and let cool.  Meanwhile, chop vegetables.  Since you have the knife out, chop smoked sausage into 1/4″ rounds.

Down Home is one of my favorite sausages.  They manufacture it in Stonewall, LA, which is maybe fifteen minutes from where I live.  I couldn’t find a website for the company, but I included a link to a radio station I used to work at where they give the down low on the Down Home.  No, I have not received any plugola.  If they gave me free sausage, there would be plugola, but I would tell you about it.  Somehow, I don’t think it’s plugola unless it’s a secret, though.

Last thing to cut up is to cut up the bacon.  Cut that into small pieces.  Once cut, toss the bacon into a heated pot to render.  Once partially rendered, throw in the marinated pork loin.  After it is browned it is time to put the sausage in.

I was watching some cooking show a couple of years ago where this old man was cooking a monster pot of jambalaya outside.  He kept saying that you want to cook the sausage so it is scabbed up.  He’s right, you want scabby sausage.  I was unable to do it this time because of the sheer volume, but when I have a manageable batch, I cook the sausage so it is nice and scabby.

Before you blow scabby chunks, let me explain.  This old cajun may or may not have gotten all technical on us, but he was describing the maillard reaction.  Chemistry stuff happens to the meat when you brown it.  Think of a really nice crust on a steak.  That crust is the scab this old coot was describing.

No scabs on the sausage. I’m just not awesome enough to do it with this huge batch. If I had a tilt skillet, though, I would’ve rocked the scabs.

When you have a scabbed up pot of sausage, you want to add the vegetables and saute until soft and the onion is translucent.  I wait until this moment to add the chicken.  Remember that chicken?  Well, we forgot to debone it.  So, before you burn up a pot of meat, be sure to have deboned the chicken prior to firing up the stove.  After it’s deboned, I spread it back onto a baking sheet, apply some more Tony Cachere’s, and let it crisp up some at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Now that we are back on track, don’t add the chicken until the vegetables are sauteed.  This way, you can avoid tearing up the meat from over stirring and whatnot.

This is the moment to add your dry spices and Worcestershire sauce.

I add the base to the water and stir until well mixed.  Then it’s time to add the rice and base-infused water.

Jambalaya is ready to simmer.
Jambalaya is ready to simmer.

Simmer the conglomeration of meat and rice for around 50 minutes while occasionally stirring.  It is actually desirable to have the food stick to the bottom of the pan to get some crusty bits.  Remember?  Maillard reaction?

One big, swingin' pot of jambalaya.

Once the water is absorbed, it’s time to eat.  Enjoy.