Traditional Cajun and Creole Recipes

by Tim Harkleroad

E-mail me here!


 

Introduction


Welcome to this, my tiny collection of Cajun and Creole recipes. I won’t waste too much of its small space for this intro. I’m not a chef, but these recipes are very easy. Below is a small dissertation on making a roux, the foundation of many Cajun dishes. There is a small glossary, as well as how to make perfect rice, hearty stocks, and Cajun spice mixes.


So have fun and avoid shortcuts as these recipes are tested and tasty. As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler” or Let the Good Times Roll!


Tim Harkleroad


Cajun and Creole Food Items


Cajun - Originally French immigrants, the Cajuns were exiled, for political and religious reasons, from the Acadian region of Nova Scotia, Canada in the 1750’s. They travelled along the North American coast, to the bayous of South Louisiana. The word Cajun came from the local Micmac Indian’s pronunciation of the word Acadian. Their food, music, and language make up the rich culture of South Louisiana.


Creole - First generation offspring of the European aristocrats who established New Orleans in the early 1690s. Second-born sons, who could not own land or titles in their native countries, lived and prospered in their family traditions, here in the New World. The word Creole can be traced to the old Spanish word “Criallo” meaning a mixture of cultures or color.


Gumbo - A roux-based, one-pot, slow-cooked, Cajun stew. Usually comprised of either chicken or seafood. Flavored with a smoked sausage called Andouille. Don’t look for lots of vegetables, they’re in there, but they’ve cooked down to nearly nothing because of the slow cooking. Flavorful and thick, it is usually served with rice. Filé powder, (green sassafras leaf) is used to thicken and flavor, as is okra. As a matter of fact, the word gumbo is derived from the Angolan word for okra, “Kin-gum-bo”. Game and smoked meats, like smoked duck and rabbit, are also very popular in gumbo. Most folks agree Gumbo is best served the next day after re-heating it.


Jambalaya -A rice based dish containing any combination of meats or seafood. Cajun Jambalaya usually contains no tomato or green pepper. It is brown in color from scraping the “graton” from the bottom of the cast iron pot as you cook the meats and vegetables. Creole Jambalaya has the inclusion of tomatoes, and is often referred to as “red” Jambalaya. The word is derived from Jambo a la Yaya, the French word for ham, “Jambo”, and the African word for rice “Ya-ya.” You can also trace its origin to the Spanish Paella, a dish of rice and seafood.


Red Beans and Rice - Red Kidney beans are a staple of Cajun cuisine. They’re cooked on Mondays, because Monday is wash day. Since beans require little to no attention, after putting all the ingredients in the pot, the cook could slide the pot to the back burner to slow-cook all day. The beans are flavored with the “Holy Trinity”, smoked meats like ham hock, Andouille, and Tasso, and sometimes with pickled pork.


Etouffée - The word etouffée (ay-2-fay) roughly translates to smothered, or stewed. The featured meat or seafood is pan sauteed with, again, the “Holy Trinity” of onions, celery and green pepper. A light tan roux creates a velvety smooth sauce infused with spices and herbs. Etoufée is a luxurious dish and epitome of the cuisine.


Andouille - Pronounced “ahn-dewey”, it is a spicy, smoked, pork sausage, used primarily to enhance the flavor of Cajun dishes such as gumbos and jambalayas.


Boudin -Pronounced “boo-dan”, it is pork sausage containing rice, spices, and a small amount of pork liver. Don’t worry, it’s not very “liver-y” tasting, it’s savory, a little spicy, and sometimes it is smoked. This is my favorite of all the sausages. For a treat, remove the sausage from the skin, roll into balls, roll in breadcrumbs, then fry, or deep-fry, them.


Tasso - Strips of spicy pork, smoked for hours to infuse a deep, dark, smoky flavor.


Cajun Holy Trinity - Combination of diced onions, celery, and green bell peppers.


How to make a Roux


Pronounced “roo”, it is the result of cooking equal amounts of oil and flour until it is brown. Different shades of brown are achieved by different cooking times and temperatures. The longer the cooking time, the darker the color and flavor, the less thickening quality it has. Usually cooked in a cast iron pot or skillet, oil can be substituted with lard, shortening, or animal fat. Old Cajuns insisted on using lard.


Cajun rouxs are usually darker in color, and are used more for flavor than a thickening agent. Creole rouxs are used more to thicken and tend to be lighter in color, like a béchamel sauce. They often use butter instead of oil for a more savory flavor.


For these recipes, we will use a dark roux unless otherwise noted. Somewhere between the color of milk chocolate and dark chocolate. This takes some time, so don’t try to cook Cajun food in a rush.


For standard roux, we will use 1 cup of vegetable oil and 1 cup of flour and a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. If you make it in a skillet you’ll probably need to transfer it to another, larger vessel after making it. Heat the oil in the skillet on MED, whisk in flour to avoid any lumps. After smoothing out all the lumps, I use a heat-proof, silicon, flat-end spatula to stir the roux, you want to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, and this silicon spatula gets in all those little corners.


Don’t go off and leave it. With the spatula, completely brush/scrape the roux off the bottom and sides, wait a few seconds, letting it brown a bit, and then repeat. Keep it moving, don’t let it burn. If black specks appear, throw it out and start again. Keep stirring until it is the desired color you need, take it off the stove eye, and continue with your recipe.


Roux can get to upwards of 500º and can burn you badly. Chef Paul Prudhomme calls it Cajun Napalm. Be careful and don’t burn it, or yourself. Do a few trial runs before you plan a big dish. If you are making it to put in a recipe later, transfer it to a heat-resistant container, as it will continue cooking if you leave it in the skillet. It is best to make it in the pot or skillet you will be using for the particular dish. Most recipes will require you to sauté the “Holy Trinity” in the roux. If so, put the onions in first, to wilt for a few minutes, then add the remaining celery and green peppers.


Cooking Perfect Rice


Here’s an easy way to prepare tasty, fluffy, cooked rice. Now, you can always follow the cooking time and water amounts listed on the back of the rice package. I have tried many ways, but here is the absolute easiest, fool-proof method I have found.


Like cooking pasta, you start with several quarts of water. Add a dash a salt and a few tablespoons of butter. The idea is to use more water than you’ll ever need. Bring this to a boil and add 2 or 3 cups of rice. Cook at a rolling boil for about 20 mins. until rice is tender. You’ll need to actually taste a few bits to check for doneness.


When tender, strain the rice through a colander or sieve. Rinse the rice thoroughly with very hot water. Replace the rice into the still-warm pot and let it finish absorbing all the traces of liquid for about 10 mins. Fluff it with a fork and enjoy!


Stocks


To make your own stocks gives you a satisfying feeling to use all those scrap bones and parts to make a rich stock for use in your recipes. Save up all those bones, necks, wing tips, tails, etc. Skin has a lot of fat in it, if you use it, skim the fat off later. Avoid using livers, gizzards, or other organs. Place bones and vegetable scraps like celery stalks, onion stems, etc. in a stock pot and cover with water. Cook for a hour and skim any foam that might rise to the surface. 


Strain the bones and scraps from the pot and you’re left with a rich hearty stock. Further cooking thickens and reduces the amount but increases the rich flavor. Some cooks brown the bones in an oven before boiling. For a seafood stock, always ask for heads-on, unpeeled shrimp. Follow the above instructions using shrimp shells and heads, any crawfish or crab shells, along with vegetable scraps. Herbs can be added between the skimming and the straining. Be careful not to add salt, it concentrates as it reduces and may end up too salty. Stocks may be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for a few months. Clam juice may be added if you come up short on seafood stock.


Cajun Spice Mix

4 tbs salt

2 tbs black pepper

2 tbs white pepper

1 tbs cayenne pepper

1 tbs paprika

2 tbs garlic powder

1 tbs onion powder

2 tbs dried thyme

1 tbs dried basil

1 tbs dried oregano 


Mix all ingredients in a sealable plastic container.  You can use this mixture when the recipe calls for Savory Spice Mix.


Chicken and Andouille Gumbo


1 cup cooking oil

1 cup plain flour

1 lb (2 cups) smoked Andouille sausage 

1 1⁄2 lb cooked or raw chicken (diced dark meat) 

2 cups onion (diced) 

1 cup celery (diced) 

1⁄2 cup green pepper (diced) 

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tbs dried garlic chips (opt.) 

2 tbs worcestershire sauce 

3 cloves garlic (minced) 

1 tbs hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal) 

3 bay leaves 

2 cups crushed, canned tomatoes 

1 tbs Cajun Spice Mix 

1⁄2 cup green onion (sliced thin) 

1 tsp black pepper 

1⁄4 cup parsley (chopped) 

1 tsp cayenne pepper 

8 cups chicken stock


In a 7 qt., cast iron Dutch Oven, or similar kettle, heat oil on MED/HI, when hot, add flour and stir continuously until the roux reaches a dark brown color. Add diced onions and cook until onion is transparent, then add celery, green pepper, and garlic, and cook another 10 mins. Add bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and garlic chips. Stir to combine, cook 5 mins. Whisk in 2 cups of the hot stock, cook for another 5 mins.


Add the diced smoked sausage and cook 10 mins. Now add remaining stock, tomatoes, 1⁄2 the green onion, and 1⁄2 the parsley, then bring to a boil for 5 mins. Bring back down to MED/LO and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If using the cooked chicken, add chicken now, be careful not to break up the pieces by over- stirring. If you use raw chicken you should add it earlier when you add the celery and green pepper. Now, let it simmer another half hour on MED/LO. Serve over rice, topped with remaining parsley and chopped green onions.


* It’s best not to cook Filé into gumbo as it can become bitter tasting when cooked or re-heated. Offer it at the table for your guests to use. It is also best to use dark meat chicken, it doesn’t break up as bad as white meat. It has a nice consistency.


Voodoo Bayou Seafood Gumbo


1 cup cooking oil 

1 cup plain flour 

1 lb (2 cups) smoked sausage 

3 cups onion (diced) 

2 cups celery (diced) 

1 cup green pepper (diced) 

3 cloves of garlic (minced) 

3 bay leaves 

1 tsp black pepper 

1 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 tsp dried thyme 

1 tbs dried garlic chips (opt.) 

2 tbs worcestershire sauce 

1 tbs tabasco sauce 

2 cups crushed, canned tomatoes 

1⁄4 cup green onion (sliced thin) 

1⁄4 cup parsley (chopped) 

10 cups seafood stock 

1  8 oz bottle clam juice 

1 lb raw, cleaned, de-veined med. shrimp 

1 lb crab meat 

1 pint small oysters (opt.) 

2 cups sliced okra (opt.) 

2 sm. gumbo crabs (cleaned and broken up)


In a 7 qt., cast iron Dutch Oven, or similar kettle, heat oil on MED/HI, when hot, add flour and stir continuously until the roux reaches a dark brown color. Add diced onions and cook until onion is transparent, then add celery, green pepper, and garlic, and cook another 10 mins. Add bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, and garlic chips. Stir constantly, cook 5 mins. Whisk in 2 cups of the hot stock, cook for another 5 mins.


Add the smoked sausage and crab pieces, cook 10 mins. Now add remaining stock, clam juice, tomatoes, 1/2 the green onion, and 1/2 the parsley, then bring to a boil for 5 mins.(Opt. Add fresh, or frozen Okra. Fry it in 1⁄4 cup of oil for 25 mins before adding it) Bring back down to MED/LO and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Finish up by adding, shrimp, oysters, and crab, careful not to break up crab pieces by over-stirring. Just let it simmer another half hour on MED/LO. Serve over rice, topped with parsley and chopped green onions.


Some Cajun cooks will never use Andouille, or smoked sausage, with a seafood gumbo, I love the smoked meat flavor, so I use it. Again, okra is optional, but most Cajuns will insist on using it, but will not use okra and Filé in the same gumbo. Filé is best used after cooking the gumbo, by offering it at the table. Tomatoes… the same thing goes, most Cajuns won’t use it with seafood gumbo. This is YOUR gumbo, use in it whatever you want.


*Crabs are cleaned by removing the top shell and gills. The claws are broken off and placed in the pot, as is the body, broken in half and placed in the pot. If you buy live crabs, shock them in boiling water before breaking them up. Use the boil water and shells to enhance your seafood stock.


Cajun Brown Jambalaya


1 lb Andouille sausage 

1 1⁄2 lb boned, skinned chicken thighs (diced bite size) 

2 cups onion (diced) 

1 cup celery (diced) 

1⁄2 cup green onion (diced) 

2 tsp Cajun Spice Mix 

1 tsp black pepper 

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp garlic powder 

1 tsp salt 

1 tsp thyme (dried) 

1 tsp basil (dried) 

1 tbs parsley (chopped) 

1 tbs worcestershire sauce 

6 cups chicken stock 

3 cups uncooked rice 

1 tbs cooking oil


Sprinkle Cajun Spice Mix on chicken meat, toss, and set aside. Pour oil in a cast iron dutch oven (6 to 7 qts) or similar sized pot, heat oil on MED/HI. Add andouille and sauté, once browned, remove it and add the chicken.


Cook for 10 mins. or until the chicken is done. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove all the “graton”, the little dregs that flavor the rice and give it its distinctive rustic brown color. Add onions and celery, cook 5 mins., again scraping the bottom to loosen all that flavor, then add all spices, worcestershire, andouille, and cook 5 mins. more.


When onions look cooked, add green onion, and the chicken stock. Turn heat to HI, bring to a boil, then cook at a rolling boil for 10 mins. Add rice, stir to make sure you incorporate the rice and it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom. Turn down a bit to MED/HI, cover with lid, and cook for about another 20 mins. stirring occasionally, being careful not to let it burn. Turn heat down to a very low simmer and cover with tight fitting lid. Let it sit for 25 mins. without opening lid.


Rice should now be done, if not I sometimes finish it off in the oven for about 20 mins. at 300º. To finish, give it a stir to fluff the rice and replace the lid to let it steam. Never make Jambalaya out of pre-cooked rice, it does not absorb the rich flavors.


There’s a subtle difference between Cajun and Creole Jambalaya, the Cajuns rarely use tomato sauce, or green pepper, although you can put whatever you want in your Jambalaya, that’s the beauty and joy of this cuisine.



Creole Red Jambalaya


1 lb smoked ham (diced)

1-1⁄2 lb shrimp (shelled and de-veined) 

2 cups onion (diced) 

1 cup celery (diced) 

1 cup green pepper (diced) 

1 tbs tabasco sauce 

1 tsp black pepper 

1 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 tsp salt 

1 tsp thyme (dried) 

1⁄2 cup green onion (sliced thin) 

1 tbs parsley (chopped) 

2 cups diced tomatoes (don’t drain juice) 

1 tbs worcestershire 

1 tbs minced garlic 

5 cups shrimp stock 

3 whole bay leaves 

3 cups uncooked rice 

2 tsp Cajun Spice Mix 

1 tbs cooking oil


Sprinkle Cajun Spice Mix on shrimp, toss, and set aside. Pour oil in a cast iron dutch oven (6 to 7 qts) or similar sized pot, heat oil on MED/HI. Add ham and sauté 5 mins., add shrimp, cook for 5 mins. more or until the shrimp are done. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove all the “graton”, the dregs that flavor the rice. Add onions, green peppers, and celery, cook 5 mins., again scraping the bottom to loosen all that flavor, then add all spices, tabasco, worcestershire, and cook 5 mins. more.


When onions look cooked, add green onion, diced tomatoes, and the shrimp stock. Turn heat to HI, bring to a boil, then cook at a rolling boil for 10 mins.

Add rice, stir to make sure you incorporate rice and it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom. Turn it down a bit to MED/HI, cover with lid, and cook for about another 20 mins. stirring occasionally, being careful not to let it burn. Turn the heat down to a very low simmer and cover it with tight fitting lid. Let it steam for 25 mins. without opening lid.


Rice should be done and tender, If not yet done, I finish mine off in the oven for about 20 mins. at 300º. To finish, give it a stir and re-cover over with lid to let it cool a bit and absorb all the juices.


* You can always substitute crawfish for the shrimp. Andouille or Tasso can be substituted for the smoked ham in this recipe. The best Jambalaya I’ve ever eaten was made with smoked rabbit meat. You can also substitute 1 cup of clam juice (8 oz. bottle) plus 4 cups of the chicken stock for the shrimp stock.


For this recipe, I really appreciate New Orleans Chef Emile Stiffle for his guidance on Jambalaya. The big exception is Emile never makes less than 20 gallons at a time. He is truly the Jambalaya King, and a super nice guy.


Red Beans and Rice


1 lb dried red kidney beans

1 lb Andouille (diced small)

1 smoked ham hock

2 cups onion (diced small)

1 cup celery (diced small)

8 cups chicken stock

1⁄2 cup bacon grease (or fat of your choice, lard, oil, butter)

2 cups diced tomatoes (15 - 16 oz. can)

1 tbs garlic (minced small)

1 tbs Tabasco, Crystal, etc.

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

1 tbs vinegar (apple cider variety)

1 tbs Cajun Spice Mix 3 bay leaves

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

1 tbs sliced green onions


Place beans in a large bowl and cover them with warm water. (Your cooking time can be lessened by soaking them overnight or parboiling them.) In a large pot or dutch oven, render the bacon grease. After rendering, remove the crispy bacon and save for plating.


Add the onions and celery. Saute the vegetables in the pot until the onions become translucent and wilted. Add the Andouille sausage and stir it in with the onions, etc. Now add your garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, Cajun spice, bay leaves, thyme, black, white and cayenne peppers, and salt. 


Let these ingredients cook about 5 mins. stirring constantly to avoid sticking.

Add the ham hock, and all the stock, and let the stock get boiling for about 5 mins. and finally add the beans. Bring this back up to a boil for about 10 mins. Then turn it down to MED and place the lid on your pot. Stir the pot every 10 or 15 mins. Continue until beans are tender (1 1⁄2 - 2 hours) and then take lid off so liquids can reduce. Remove the ham bone and, if you’d like, pick any meat off for the beans.


In a bowl, place about a half cup of cooked white rice and ladle the beans over the rice. Top with chopped parsley, thinly sliced green onions, and crumbled bacon.


Frog's Legs Sauce Piquant


10 - 12 sets frog’s legs (about 3 lbs) 

1 cup onion (diced) 

1⁄2 cup celery (diced) 

1⁄2 cup green pepper (diced) 

1⁄2 cup tomato paste 

1⁄4 cup oil (+ 1 cup for frying) 

1⁄2 cup flour (+ 1⁄4 cup for breading) 

1 16 oz can Rotel tomatoes (crushed) 

4 cups chicken broth (or water) 

3 tbs butter 

1 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal) 

1 tbs worcestershire sauce 

1⁄2 tsp black pepper 

1⁄2 tsp salt 

1 tsp garlic (minced) 

1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper


In a 7 qt., cast iron Dutch Oven, or similar kettle, heat 1⁄4 cup oil on MED/HI, when hot, add flour and stir continuously until the roux reaches a dark brown color. Add butter, diced onions and cook until onion is transparent, then add celery, green pepper, and garlic, and cook another 10 mins Add the tomatoes with the liquid, chicken broth, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Simmer on LOW for 45 minutes.


Add the salt and cayenne to the remaining 2 tbs of flour. Dredge the frog’s legs in the flour mixture and fry in the 1⁄4 cup of oil, in another cast iron skillet, until done. Add the frog’s legs to the sauce and simmer on MED for an one more hour. Serve over rice with some sliced green onions and chopped green parsley.


Old Style Crawfish Stew


1 pound shelled crawfish

1⁄2 oil

1⁄2 cup flour

1 cup onion (diced)

3 - 4 cups of water (or stock)

1⁄2 tsp Cajun Spice Mix

1 tbs garlic (minced)

1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper

1⁄2 tbs parsley

1 tbs green onion


In a MED cast iron skillet, or dutch oven, heat the oil and stir in the flour, until you have a dark roux. Add onion, garlic and cook until wilted. Add crawfish, Cajun Spice Mix, and cayenne. Add 3 cups of water slowly, turn down the heat and let cook for 1 hour on LOW. Add parsley and green onions five minutes before serving.


When you buy processed crawfish in stores, they are packaged in a yellowish liquid. This is the fat, or what folks call the “butter”. This is extremely flavorful and should never be rinsed off or thrown away, it will add a richness to your crawfish dishes. If you use fresh crawfish, shock them in boiling water. While peeling them, try to save this “butter” from the body cavity. It should come out with the meat, or a little coaxing with the end of a spoon, or even your fingertip like I was taught. The lady I learned Cajun cooking from made this wonderful dish really dark and flavorful.


Pork Roast with Brown Gravy


1 cup oil

1 1⁄2 cups plain flour

2 lg onions (coarse chop)

5 ribs celery (1⁄4 in. sliced)

2 cups diced tomatoes

6 - 7 lb lean pork roast

1 tbs black pepper

1 tbs salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp thyme (dried)

1 tsp basil (dried)

1 tbs parsley (chopped)

2 tbs dried garlic chips

3 bay leaves

2 tbs worcestershire

1 tbs tabasco

4 cups chicken stock

4 cups water


Preheat oven to 275º. In a 7 to 8 qt. Dutch Oven, or similar kettle, heat oil on MED. When hot, add flour and stir continuously until the roux reaches a dark brown color. Add onions and celery, cook 5 mins., Stir in tomatoes, after another 5 mins., add all spices, worcestershire, and cook 5 more mins.


Add the chicken stock and whisk it into the roux. Carefully lower the pork roast into the roux mixture. Add the garlic chips and bay leaves. Add enough water to just reach the top of the roast. Place lid on and slide into middle rack in 275º oven. Leave roast in oven for at least 6 hours, I let mine go for 7 hours in all. After turning the oven off, let relax for about another half hour.


Using a giant spoon or spatula, lift roast out of the pot and rest it on a plate. Skim the grease off the top of the roux gravy. Pour gravy through a strainer, or puree it in a blender, and serve alongside the pork roast.


Grillades & Grits


2 lbs boneless beef, pork, or veal filets 

1 cup plain flour 

1 cup oil 

2 cups onions (diced) 

1-1⁄2 cup celery (diced) 

1 cup green pepper (diced) 

1 tbs garlic (minced) 

2 cups water 

3 tbs worcestershire sauce

1 tbs hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal) 

2 cups crushed, canned tomatoes 

2 tbs Cajun Spice Mix 

2 tsp kosher salt 

1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper 

2 bay leaves 

1⁄4 cup green onion (sliced thin) 

1⁄4 cup parsley (chopped)

2 batches Creamy Hominy Grits (recipe below)


Pound out 1 inch filets to a 1⁄2 inch thickness, sprinkle with Cajun Spice Mix, and dredge in 1⁄2 of the flour. Fry these pieces in 1⁄2 of the oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven, on MED heat. When browned, transfer to a plate, and add remaining oil in the cooking vessel. Bring heat back up and stir in remaining flour to create a dark roux. Once roux is proper color, add onions, celery, green pepper, and garlic. When onions are wilted, add water, worcestershire, tomatoes, bay leaves, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, remaining Cajun Spice Mix, and hot sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to LOW. 


Add meat, and simmer for 1 to 2 hours (however long you can resist the great smell) until the meat is tender and infused with all the great flavors.

Serve Grillades (gree-odds) over grits or rice. Top with green onions and parsley. Some cooks like to add grated provolone cheese and/or grated andouille sausage to the grits as they’re cooking.


Creamy Hominy Grits


1 cup course ground hominy grits

4 cups water

2 tablespoons butter

kosher salt and pepper to taste


Into a saucepan, place the salt and water and bring to a rolling boil. Gradually whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and let the grits simmer until they start to thicken.


The boiling should continue for an additional 35 min., during which time you can add the butter and pepper. As an option you can add some cheese or ground smoked sausage. You can substitute 2 cups of Half & Half for 2 cups of water, for creamier tasting grits.


Shrimp Etouffée


2 lb raw shrimp or crawfish

(peeled and de-veined)

2 tbs butter

1 tbs cooking oil

3 tbs flour

1 cup onion (diced)

1⁄2 cup celery (diced)

1⁄4 cup green pepper (diced)

1 tbs Cajun Spice Mix

1⁄2 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock (or water)

1 cup clam juice (8 oz. bottle)

1 tbs minced garlic

2 tsp thyme

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1 tsp tabasco

2 tbs green onions, thinly sliced

2 tbs minced parsley

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper


Sprinkle Cajun Spice Mix on the peeled shrimp, toss, and set aside. Melt the butter into the oil in a MED hot, cast iron dutch oven or skillet, add the onions, celery and green peppers. Saute until they’re wilted Add the flour and stir it long enough to make a caramel colored roux. Add a small amount of the stock, whisk in, and cook for 15 mins., then add the tomatoes, garlic, the remaining stock, and clam juice. Whisk constantly while adding these ingredients.


Add all remaining spices and sauces. Turn the heat to MED/LO and cook for about a half hour. Add your shrimp and green onions, cook until shrimp a done but not rubbery, about 12 - 15 mins. Serve over rice, sprinkled with parsley.


You can adjust the consistency of this dish by adding more stock. You can also use cooked crawfish tails in this wonderful dish.


Boudin Sausage


3 lbs pork butt (cubed) 

4 cups uncooked rice 

1 lbs pork liver (cubed) 

2 cups onions (diced) 

1 cup green onions (diced) 

1⁄2 cup parsley (minced) 

1 tbs garlic (diced) 

1 tsp cayenne 

1 tbs salt 

1 tsp black pepper 

1 tbs thyme 

enough water to cover pork and liver


Cut pork and liver up into 2 inch cubes, cover with water in a large pot by about 2 inches. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and turn down to MED/LOW. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender Skim off any gray foam that accumulates on top. Strain meat and reserve the liquid. Allow meat to cool before adding the green onion, cayenne, and parsley, then grind it in a meat grinder or a food processor.


Place about 6 cups of the reserved cooking liquid in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the uncooked rice and cook on MED until it is done, it should take about 20 mins, allow to cool. Thoroughly mix the rice and the ground meat mixture tasting to see if it is properly seasoned. You might need to add some of the cooking liquid to achieve the right consistency, add just enough to make the mixture moist, but still stiff.


If you stuff the Boudin into links in casings, you can let them dry a bit in your refrigerator, or smoke the links in a smoker. If you roll them into balls, you can toss them in flour, dip in buttermilk, then in bread crumbs, and fry, or deep fry, at 350º.


Fried Catfish or Seafood


3 - 4 catfish filets 

2 eggs (beaten)

2 cups buttermilk

1 tbs Tabasco, Crystal, etc.

1 cup corn meal

1 cup plain flour

2 tbs Cajun Spice Mix

oil for frying


In a bowl big enough to hold all the liquid ingredients, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and Tabasco sauce. Add the catfish filets and let them soak for 15 mins. In a separate bowl, combine the corn meal, flour, and Cajun Spice Mix.


After the filets have soaked in the milk/egg mixture, remove them and slightly shake off the excess mixture. Place them in the dry mix and coat them thoroughly. Some like to use a plastic or paper bag for flouring the filets. I feel that’s a lot of extra mess and effort.


In a deep fryer, deep cast iron skillet, or dutch oven, pour enough peanut oil to come 2-3 inches up from the bottom. Heat the oil to 350º, and place the filets in two at a time. Fry them until golden brown and cooked done inside. You can keep the cooked fish in a 150º oven to keep them warm. Do not overcrowd the fryer as it brings the temperature of the oil down and the fish will not fry properly.


You can use this recipe for shrimp, oysters, soft shell crab, or even for fried okra. Thick pieces of fish take longer to fry. If you buy thick catfish filets, you can take a filet knife and slice them in half. They cook better, faster, and come out thin, light, and crispy. Thick filets might look done on the outside and not be done on the inside. I’ve always liked fried fish on the thin side.


Hushpuppies


1 cup flour

1⁄4 cup minced green onions

1 cup cornmeal

1 beaten egg

1 tbs baking powder

1⁄2 tbs Cajun Spice Mix

1⁄2 tbs salt

1⁄4 cup buttermilk

1⁄2 tbs baking soda


Combine all the ingredients to form a dense batter. Using a large tablespoon or ice cream scoop, place spoonfuls of hushpuppy batter into the hot oil. 


You could fill a pastry bag with a big tip and squeeze out the batter into the hot oil. If you don’t have a pastry bag, use a ZipLock bag with a corner cut off. This can give you some interesting shapes for your hushpuppies. Let these drain on a paper towel or plate.


Extreme Tartar Sauce


2 cups mayonnaise

1 tbs Tabasco Sauce

1 tbs creole or yellow mustard

1⁄2 tbs minced garlic

1 tbs lemon juice

1⁄4 cup minced onions

1⁄4 cup minced dill pickles

1 tbs cajun seasoning

1 tsp horseradish

1 tbs malt or apple vinegar


Combine ingredients and keep refrigerated. If it’s too strong, add more mayonnaise. Chop you own pickles, instead of using jar relish, as it makes the sauce too sweet.


Metairie Crab & Shrimp Bisque


1 1⁄2 lb shrimp (heads and shells on)

1 lb lump crab meat

1⁄2 stick unsalted butter

1⁄2 cup of flour 

2 cups onion (diced)

1 cup celery (diced)

2 cloves garlic (finely minced)

4 cups chicken stock

4 cups water

1⁄2 tsp black pepper

1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper

1⁄2 tsp nutmeg

1⁄2 tsp dried thyme

2 whole bay leaves

1 tbs Cajun Spice Mix

2 tbs Zatarain’s liquid crab boil

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 tbs chopped parsley


Behead, peel and de-vein shrimp. Keep shrimp in fridge, put heads and shells into a medium saucepot, add chicken stock, water, Cajun Spice Mix, thyme, crab boil, and any scrap onion stems, celery tops, etc.


You use all this to make a seafood stock. Bring to a rolling boil and let boil for about 5 mins. and then turn down to MED and let go for about 20 mins. Strain out the shells and veggie parts, set stock aside.


In another pot, or cast iron dutch oven, melt butter on MED heat, add the onion, celery, and garlic. Stir well so garlic and onions do not burn and become bitter. After onions are wilted, whisk in flour and keep whisking until flour turns a tan color. Add salt, pepper, bay leaves, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper and stir to combine mixture.


Whisk in the stock about a cup at a time. Turn to MED/HI, bring to a boil and let go for about 10 mins. Whisk in heavy cream, let go for about 5 mins. and then turn down to MED/LO and cook for about 20 mins. more.

Split the shrimp vertically down the middle. Add the shrimp, then add the crab being careful not to break up the lumps. Cook for another 10 mins. Garnish with fresh Italian Flat-Leaf parsley.


This recipe was developed at my good friend Doug Ferguson’s house in Metairie, LA. I named the dish after this New Orleans suburb. Doug moved to Texas after Hurricane Katrina. I miss Doug and his wife Barbara greatly, hopefully we can get back together soon and enjoy some of this awesome soup.


French Quarter Crab Cakes


8 Ritz crackers (crushed)

1 lb pound lump crabmeat

1 egg (beaten)

1 tsp finely minced garlic

1 tbs finely minced onion

1 tbs chopped parsley

3 tbs mayonnaise

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 1⁄2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1⁄2 tsp Tabasco

1⁄2 tbs Cajun Spice Mix

2 tbs butter for frying


Place all ingredients, except the crabmeat, into a bowl and combine with a whisk. Next, fold the crabmeat into the mixture, being careful not to break up lumps of crab. Let set for about 5 mins., then form into 4 large patties, or 6 medium ones.


In a skillet, melt the butter and fry the crab cakes on MED heat until browned lightly on both sides. Don’t flip these babies too many times, I let mine sear on one side and try to flip it only once. This keeps them from breaking up Use non-stick spray when frying these. You might also want to add a bit of oil to the butter to keep it from burning. I will sometimes sauté the onions and garlic in a pan before adding them. Add a tablespoon of water to the onions just to wilt them and take the bite out.


This mix could also be used to make Crabmeat Au Gratin by adding a tad of grated cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs on top, and baking in an “Au Gratin” dish in the oven at 400º. Use this mixture for crab ravioli, stuffed or “deviled” crab, stuffed lobster, or deep-fried crab balls. The possibilities are endless.


You know, you could make a batch of Crawfish Pie Crust, divide it into fourths, and roll them each out about 7 or 8 ins. round. Add a scoop of this crabmeat mixture, fold over. Bake according to the instructions.


Redfish Courtbouillon


3 - 4 Redfish filets (or Catfish filets)

1 tbs tabasco sauce

3 tsp butter 

2 cups crushed, canned tomatoes 

1 cup plain flour 

1⁄2 cup green onion (sliced thin) 

1⁄4 cup oil 

1⁄4 cup parsley (chopped) 

2 cups onions (julienned) 

1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 cup celery (julienned) 

1⁄2 cup dry white wine 

1⁄2 cup green pepper (julienned) 

1⁄2 tsp kosher salt 

1 tbs garlic (minced) 

1⁄2 tbs Cajun Spice Mix 

2 cups fish stock (or water & clam juice ) 

1 lemon (sliced) 

2 tbs worcestershire sauce 

3 bay leaves


In an iron skillet, heat oil and stir in half of the flour to create a dark roux. Once roux is proper color, add onions, celery, green pepper, and garlic. When onions are wilted, whisk in stock, or water and clam juice mixture. When incorporated, add worcestershire, tomatoes, bay leaves, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, half of the Cajun Spice Mix, and hot sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to LOW.


Sprinkle redfish filets with remaining Cajun Spice Mix, and dredge in remaining flour. Fry the fish pieces in butter, in another cast iron skillet or dutch oven, on MED heat. When browned, transfer to a plate, and deglaze the pan with white wine. Add fish back in, pour red sauce over fish, and garnish with lemon slices on top. Place covered in a 300º oven for 30 - 40 mins. Serve by carefully easing the filets over rice, divide up the remaining sauce out of the pan, onto the filets. Garnish with minced parsley. 


Pronounced “coo-bee-yone” this is a Creole dish. The Cajun version is more like a fish stew. Catfish makes a great substitute for redfish if unavailable.


Crawfish Pie


1-1⁄2 lb cooked crawfish (peeled)

1⁄2 cup butter 

1 cup onion (diced)

1⁄2 cup celery (diced) 

1⁄4 cup green pepper (diced) 

1⁄4 cup flour 

1 tbs Cajun Spice Mix 

1⁄2 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) 

1 cup chicken stock

1⁄2 cup clam juice 

1 tbs minced garlic 

1 tsp thyme 

1 tsp worcestershire sauce 

1⁄2 tsp tabasco 

1 tbs green onions, thinly sliced 

1 tbs minced parsley 

1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper 

1⁄2 cup heavy cream


Sprinkle half of the Cajun Spice Mix on the crawfish, toss about, and set aside. Melt the butter in a MED cast iron skillet or pot, add the onions, celery, and bell pepper, and saute until slightly wilted. Whisk in the flour to make a light brown roux, stirring constantly, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in the remaining Cajun Spice Mix. Add a small amount of the stock and clam juice, whisk in, and cook for 5 mins., then add the tomatoes, garlic, remaining stock, clam juice, and cream. Be sure to whisk constantly. Cook for 5 minutes.


Add the thyme, worcestershire, and hot sauce, a little salt, black pepper, and Cayenne. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the crawfish, green onions, and parsley, simmer for 10 minutes more. Let cool and spoon into crust. The recipe for the crust follows.


By the way, you can substitute small, or diced, shrimp if crawfish are unavailable. If using processed crawfish, be sure not to rinse off the yellowish “butter” that comes in the package, it is the natural fat of the crawfish and really enhances the flavor of the dish. Always try to use Louisiana crawfish and other seafood. If not available, at least use American seafood, and avoid using the Chinese variety.


Savory Crawfish Pie Crust


2 cups all purpose flour 

5 - 6 tablespoons cold water 

1⁄2 tsp salt 

6 tablespoons chilled butter 

1⁄2 cup vegetable shortening 

1⁄2 tsp Cajun Spice Mix 

1⁄2 tsp tumeric (opt.)


Mix flour, Cajun Spice, tumeric, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter and shortening into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork, until dough forms. You can also do this in a food processor.


Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour. Preheat oven to 425º. Roll one half of the dough into a 12 inch round disk. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it over to a nine inch, deep-dish pie pan. Gently press the dough into the pie pan, then trim the edges to a 1⁄2 inch overhang.


Fill the pie shell with the cooled crawfish mixture. Transfer the rolled-out remaining piece of pie crust dough over the top. Crimp and trim the crust around the edge of the lower crust. Bake about 40 mins. at 425º, while on a cookie sheet in the middle of the oven. Let it cool a bit, slice and serve. Hooooo, me-oh my-oh!


Pecan Pralines


1 1⁄2 cups sugar 

3⁄4 cups brown sugar 

1⁄2 cup (plus 2 tbs) Half & Half 

1⁄2 stick butter 

1 1⁄2 cups pecan halves and quarters 

1 teaspoon vanilla


Combine first four ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down a cook the mixture on MED until it reaches 240º with a candy thermometer, or forms a soft ball.


As the mixture cooks, don’t stir it to death, this will make it grainy. Stir it only occasionally, while spooning the mixture up on the side of the saucepan, to wash the sugar crystals off the sides.


Remove from the heat and add the pecans and vanilla. Stir the mixture until it starts to cool and gets cloudy. It is then ready to spoon out onto wax paper or a Teflon pan. Don’t let it get too thick or it won’t drop properly. If it does, add some warm water to it, only about a tablespoon.


Let them cool and, if there are any left over, store them in an airtight container. These are the quintessential New Orleans delicacy.


Bananas Foster


This last minute addition is my favorite dessert. It is luxurious, and surprisingly simple. Created by Brennan’s Restaurant Chef Paul Blangé in 1951 for Crime Comissioner Richard Foster, a Brennan’s regular, it is said. My recipe comes from a restaurant in Printer’s Alley in Nashville, TN. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, (I was in my teens) but the waiter made it at our table… very elegant.


4 bananas (sliced lengthwise and halved)

1 dash cinnamon

4 tbs of butter

1 dash nutmeg

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

1 shot Cointreau orange liqueur

1⁄2 cup white sugar

1 shot Myer’s dark rum

juice and zest of 1 half orange

1 shot DeKuyper’s banana liqueur

1 tsp lemon juice 1 pinch salt


In a sauté pan, melt the butter, add the sugars, and let them cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice, orange peel and juice, and the shot of Cointreau and DeKuyper. After about 5 mins., remove the orange peel, add the banana liqueur, and slide in the banana slices.


Cook until banana starts to soften and the sauce begins to thicken and caramelize. Add the Dark Rum and allow it to ignite. Serve immediately over vanilla ice cream. Use real butter, and DO NOT ruin this dessert by serving it with frozen yogurt, or even other flavors of ice cream. Simple, rich, vanilla ice cream is the only thing to use. Brennan’s flambés about 35,000 lbs of bananas a year.


Rice Calas


2  cup  cooked rice (cooled)

6  tbs  plain flour (heaping tbs)

2  tsp  baking powder

3  tbs  sugar (heaping tbs)

1⁄4  tsp salt

1⁄4  tsp nutmeg

1⁄2  tsp  vanilla extract

2  eggs

1  qt  oil for frying (2 in. deep)

1⁄4  cup  powdered sugar


Place cooked rice into a bowl. add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and combine well.  Add vanilla, eggs and mix together to form a stiff batter.  


In a deep cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or a deep fryer, heat the oil to 360º.  Using a one ounce ice cream scoop or table spoon, drop spoonfuls of the calas mixture into the hot oil.  When done on one side, the calas will flip them selves over, if you’ve given them enough oil to float.  If not, just turn them when they are brown on one side.  


Let them drail on a paper towel, transfer them to a plate, and dust with powdered sugar or drizzeled with Steen’s pure cane syrup.


Fried Okra


1 lb fresh okra (sliced in 1⁄2 in. pieces)

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1 tbs Cajun Spice Mix

2 cups corn meal

1⁄2 tbs black pepper


Remove any tips or stems from the okra and place in a large bowl. Sift in enough flour to give the okra a light covering. Beat the eggs and dump it into the bowl of okra. Stir it all around incorporating the egg in the okra, pour off any excess egg wash. Add the Cajun Spice Mix and black pepper to the corn meal and mix together. Pour enough into the okra mixture to give a good coating and the okra separates into pieces. Melt some shortening or oil in a 375º iron skillet to come up about 1/2 inch. When hot, add okra to the skillet, and cook until the coating is brown and crispy. This is the way my mom Madeline cooked the best okra I have ever eaten.


Corn Macque Choux


1⁄2 stick butter

1 tbs garlic (minced)

4 ears of corn

1⁄2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal)

1 small can Rotel tomatoes

1 tsp kosher salt and black pepper

1 cup onions (diced)

1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper

1⁄2 cup green pepper (diced)

1⁄4 cup green onions (diced)

1⁄2 cup celery (diced)

1 tbs parsley (chopped)


Cut kernels from ears, scrape the cob into a bowl to reserve the starch. Melt butter in an iron skillet, add onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Sauté these until they are softened. Add the corn, starch, tomatoes, hot sauce, salt, pepper, cayenne, green onions, and parsley. Cook until corn is done and mixture has thickened from the starch. This macque choux (mock-shoo) is a great side dish.


Garlic Bread


1 large loaf French Bread 

1⁄2 cup olive oil 

2 sticks butter 

2 tbs Cajun Spice Mix 

1⁄2 cup fresh garlic (minced) 

1⁄4 cup minced parsley


Melt half of the butter in a small skillet or pot. Add garlic and sauté until it wilts. Add olive oil, parsley, spice mix, and cook on MED for 15 mins. Remove from heat and allow to cool enough until it sets up thick enough to spread.


Slice bread lengthwise and spread half the mixture onto each side of the bread. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in a 250 oven for about 20 mins. or until it feels slightly stiff through the foil. Now slice and enjoy with the Crab and Shrimp Bisque. You can enhance this recipe by adding grated parmesean cheese, sprinkling it on after spreading the butter mixture. You can also use fresh herbs such as dill, thyme, or rosemary, when you add the spices and parsley.