Cajun Cravings!

Even though I haven’t had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans yet. Cajun/Creole food was on my mind a tad too much, couldn’t wave it off as a fleeting thought. Decided to bring some LA food in my kitchen.

The menu I chose:

Andouille Sausage & Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Jambalaya

Spicy Shrimp Timbales

Okra & Corn in a Peppery Tomato Sauce

Beignets

Coconut & Chocolate Ganache Cups (for the chocoholics in my house)

Dessert posting on Cajun Cravings – Sweet Endings to a Spicy Meal

Cajun cuisine is the style of cooking named for the French-speaking Cajun immigrants who were deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region in Louisiana, USA. Rustic cuisine created by locally available ingredients and the preparation is simple. An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, one pot dedicated to main dish, one to rice with sausage or seafood, and the third local vegetables.

Bell pepper, onions, and celery have been referred to as the holy trinity of Cajun & Creole cuisine. The preparation is similar to mire poix (traditional french style) where vegetables are roughly blended to create the base. The typical spices used are thyme, bay leaf, green onions, & cayenne pepper.

The aim was to cook authentic style Cajun/Creole food. Of course I had no clue how much time it takes to make “soul” food. After tasting each dish, I have to confess I will do it all over again. There is a deep depth of bold flavors with a kick. Without further adieu, here are my results.

 

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

 

Ingredients

  • 1 four-pound chicken, cut into parts
  • 2 pounds of andouille sausage, sliced
  • 2 onions, 1 diced and 1 cut into quarters
  • 10 cloves of garlic, 5 minced and 5 whole
  • 4 ribs of celery, 3 diced and 1 cut into quarters
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry
  • 1 bunch of green onions, diced
  • 1 cup okra, sliced
    1 cup of canola oil 
  • 1 cup of flour
    2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon of filé powder plus more for serving
    Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs Cayenne pepper + 1 tbs red chili powder

Method:

In a large cast iron skillet, mix together the flour and canola oil. Place in a pre-heated oven (350) for 2 hours. Remove it once the color is chocolate-brown. (Don’t stress, it should be a few shades short of burning).

While the roux is cooking, make your chicken broth. (I know you can always buy stock, however for your first attempt I strongly urge you to make it from scratch). Rub chicken generously with salt, black pepper, & cayenne pepper. Place the chicken with 8 cups of water, 1 onion, garlic, 1 celery stalk, & 2 bay leaves. Bring to boil and simmer for 1.5 hours.

Pick the meat of the bones when chicken is cool. Strain the broth and throw out the vegetables.

 Saute the sliced sausages till brown. Remove from pot. Add diced onions till brown, add the chopped celery, bell pepper and cook for additional 5 minutes. Stir garlic and the roux. Cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken meat and half sausages stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add white wine to deglaze the pot.

 

 

Add chicken broth to the pot, 2 bay leaves, thyme, Worcestershire sauce,  red chili powder, & black pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour. Add remaining sausages and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add minced green onions, okra, file powder, & salt. Simmer for 15 minutes. 

Cook the gumbo a day before you serve to bring out the flavors. Reheat gently and serve with white rice and hot sauce at the table.

 

Chicken Jambalaya

 

Ingredients:

  • One 4-lb rotisserie  roasted chicken
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 big jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, 1 quartered and 1 diced small
  • 10 cups cold water
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, diced (I used chorizo)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice mix (recipe follows)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed (use your best rice)

Directions

  1. Pick all the meat from the chicken, shred the chicken into bite size pieces.
  2. Trim and dice the peppers, jalapeno, scallions, celery, & garlic reserving the trimmings.
  3. Place the chicken bones, quartered onion, and vegetable trimmings with 10 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the broth discarding the solids.
  4. Heat oil in a large heavy base pot (I used Le Creuest), add sausage and sear till brown. Pour 1/4 cup stock and degalaze the pan till liquid has evaporated. Remove the sausages.
  5. Add clarified butter and onions. Saute till the onions are light brown. Deglaze with 1/2 cup stock and cook till the skillet is dry. Continue cooking till the onions are dark brown.
  6. Add bell peppers, jalapenos, scallions, celery, garlic, spice mix, salt, bay leaves, oregano, & tomato paste. Cook for 10 minutes. Deglaze with 1/4 cup stock till dry.
  7. Add the shredded chicken meat, 1 cup stock and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  8. Add sausage, rice, & 4 cups stock to the pot. Boil on high till liquid is half absorbed, cover the pot, and simmer till rice is cooked.
  9. Rest for 10 minutes and serve fresh.

Cajun Spice Mix:

  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder(I used Mexican)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra hot red chili powder (I used Indian)
  1. Blend all ingredients together.

Recipe adapted from Leite’s Culinaria.

 

Maque Choux  – Stewed Corn & Okra

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, finely chopped, with seeds
  • 1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups corn (from 5 to 6 ears)
  • 1/2 pound small fresh okra, trimmed, keeping stem end intact
  • 1 tbs cajun spice mix
  1. Cook scallions, jalapeño, bell pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until scallions begin to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. 
  2. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until broken down into a sauce, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add corn, spice mix, okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 15 minutes.

 

Spicy Shrimp Timbales

 

Ingredients:

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped leeks (dark green parts only)
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickle (kosher)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • Garlic bread to serve

Directions:

  1. Saute leeks until brown in oil. Add shrimps and red chili powder and saute till shrimps are opaque in center. Refrigerate till cold.
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients and gently blend in shrimp mixture.
  3. Place a ring mold in center of serving plate. Spoon shrimp mixture and using back of spoon spread to sides of mold. Carefully lift ring mold.
  4. Serve with garlic bread.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

Dessert posting on Cajun Cravings – Sweet Endings to a Spicy Meal

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