Archive for category Creole/Cajun

Cajun-Creole Jambalaya

jambalayaThis can loosely be called the Louisiana version of Paella. The only real difference is that I bake this in the oven to finish it off, as opposed to cooking it on top of the stove. This is a crazy good dish, a complete meal in itself.

Again, I first got turned onto Jambalaya on my travels to New Orleans in the eighties. Although the travels were for business, I never failed to tack on vacation time at the end of my business obligations to enjoy the food and culture of New Orleans. While a lot can be said about New Orleans crime and corruption, the one thing that is absolutely certain is that you will never be served substandard food and drinks in that town.

This recipe calls for Andouille sausage. I have never had a problem finding this in my local supermarket, but Tasso or some other kind of smoked ham is a great substitute here. Alternatively, buffalo chicken sausage is great also.

You will need a pretty deep baking pan for this. If your skillet is big enough and can handle oven cooking, you can simply work with that.

Ingredients

3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)

2 cups Andouille sausage, cut in 1/4 inch pieces then quartered

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup chopped onion, divided

1 cup chopped celery, divided

1 cup chopped green bell peppers, divided

3 tbsp minced garlic

1 28-oz can Italian whole tomatoes, undrained and broken up by hand

1 tsp broken-leaf sage

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 whole bay leaves

3 tbsp olive oil

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups long-grain rice (Basmati works well here)

Tabasco sauce (for the table)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and Andouille sausage, and cook until browned. (The meats do not need to be cooked through.) Remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of the olive oil and heat up. Add 1/2 cup each of the celery, onion and peppers, along with the cayenne pepper, sea salt, garlic, sage, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Now, we move to the pan you’re going to bake in. Add the meats and shrimp. Then add the cooked vegetables and all of the juices that are left from that process. Add the rice, chicken stock, the remaining uncooked half cup of the celery, onions and green pepper. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaves. Stir everything together.

Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour on 350 degrees.

Serve with a full bottle of Tabasco sauce.

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Cajun Blackened Catfish

Cajun Blackened CatfishMany moons ago, before Emeril was the “big thing” in New Orleans, there was this chef named Paul Prudhomme. The first time I ever had blackened anything was at his restaurant, KPaul’s. I used to go to New Orleans every year for the same trade show, and every year the lines waiting to get into his restaurant would run the entire length of Chartres Street. It was worth the wait every single time. The first time I ate there, I had Blackened Yellowfin Tuna. He just happened to be in the restaurant that night and he not only signed the cookbook I bought, but he signed my menu.

Since then, I’ve had many things “blackened,” including beef. But catfish has to be my all-time favorite.

This is best cooked in a cast-iron skillet, but I’ve also been successful using a non-stick skillet. The idea isn’t to burn the daylights out of it, but just to blacken it a bit. This recipe is for two catfish fillets, but it’s easy to double it if you’re cooking for more than two people. This is one of those no-brainers.

 

Ingredients

2 catfish fillets (usually about a pound or slightly over)

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

2 tsp paprika

1.5 tsp Kosher salt

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

Butter or oil (do not use margarine; it will not work)

Directions

First, mix together all of the spices in a shallow dish that can accommodate the catfish. Rinse the fillets and pat them dry. Then place them in the spices, using your fingers to thoroughly coat both sides of the fish.

Put the butter or oil in the pan and heat the pan on medium-high heat. While you’re waiting for the pan to heat, be sure that you have your stove vent on and that you open some windows. If you are successful cooking this, you’re going to generate some smoke. That’s a good sign. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set off the smoke detector in my house.

Put the catfish in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side.  Don’t be tempted to turn the heat down! Searing under this high heat will release the flavors and the oils from the spices directly into the fish. Serve immediately with your favorite southern-style sides!

 

 

 

 

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Louisiana Crawfish Boil

crawfish boilIt’s a feast like no other. Mudbugs and all the fixins. You can buy crawfish fresh (they can be mail ordered) or frozen. If you buy them fresh, however, they require a lot of cleaning. (That’s why they’re called mudbugs.) This is essentially the Cajun version of a New England Clam Boil (a recipe I promise to include on this blog at a later date; right now we’re celebrating Mardi Gras).

For this crustacean feast, you’ll need about a 40-quart pot. Amazon sells a really nice 44-qt version with a strainer insert. Ironically, it’s called the Bayou Classic! That’s what I call built-in convenience!

Be sure to have plenty of Tabasco on hand, as well as a nice Cajun Aioli for dipping (recipe follows).

Ingredients

10 lbs crawfish

1-1/2 lbs small Red Bliss potatoes (cut in half if they are larger than 2″)

1-1/2 lbs small Yukon Gold potatoes (cut in half if they are larger than 2″)

8-10 ears of corn, halved

1-1/2 lb andouille sausage, cut into 1″ pieces

3 onions, quartered

3 lemons, halved

2 heads of garlic, unpeeled but separated

5 gallons of water

5 tbsp Kosher salt

4 tbsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 tbsp dried mustard

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp dill weed

2 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

5 bay leaves

Directions

Put 5 gallons of water in your 40-quart pot. Then add all the spices. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. This should take about 35-40 minutes.

If you’re using fresh crawfish, this is the time to clean them. Dump them into a large container and fill with water. Stir them around, then drain. Refill the container and stir them again. Put them into a colander in small batches and rinse them in cold water. Then return them to the large container and fill with water. Continue to repeat the process until the water is clear. This could take several repeat processes.

Once the water is boiling, add the garlic, lemon, onions, potatoes, corn and Andouille sausage. Cover and boil for 10-15 minutes.

Add the crawfish, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and allow the pan to sit for 10 minutes before draining.

Serve with Tabasco and Cajun Aioli for dipping.

Cajun Aioli

This is an easy aioli, not the kind you have to use a food processor for. You can buy the creole seasoning pre-mixed.

Ingredients

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup Thousand Island dressing

1 tbsp garlic paste

1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 tsp fresh lime juice

3 tbsp Sriracha

2 tsp creole seasoning

Directions

Mix everything together in a bowl and chill until serving. Simple.

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