"First, you make a roux," is the standard opening line for many Louisiana recipes. There's no denying the French heritage in Louisiana cuisine, Cajun cuisine in particular. Because of the scarcity of many things in early Louisiana, the Cajun roux was made with oil and flour and a bisque made without cream, a far cry from the French version of butter, flour, and cream.
Red beans and rice is a delicious and popular Louisiana dish traditionally served on Mondays using the ham bone left over from the previous Sunday's ham dinner. Red kidney beans are most often used, but many purists feel the flavor is too strong and use the small South Louisiana red beans.
"In all the ancient homes of New Orleans, and in the colleges and convents, where large numbers of children are sent to be reared to be strong and useful men and women, several times a week there appear on the table either the nicely cooked dish of Red Beans, which are eaten with rice, or the equally wholesome White Beans a la Creme, or Red or White beans boiled with a piece of salt pork or ham." - The Picayune Creole Cookbook 1900.
Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage
1 pound dried red beans
1 ½ pounds smoked sausage cut into chunks
1 ham hock
1 large onion chopped
salt to taste
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon sage
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly cooked white rice
Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain. Add remaining ingredients to beans except salt and rice. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until beans are tender, adding more water if necessary (about 2 ½ hours). Add salt to taste. Discard ham bones. Remove about ¼ cup of beans from mixture and mash to paste; return to Dutch oven and stir. Simmer 15 more minutes. Serve over hot rice.
New Orleans was settled by the French in 1718 and then ceded to the Spanish in 1766. These two groups of colonists intermarried and their offspring became Creoles. Creoles combined their food and spices with those of Africans, American Indians and West Indians to create a new type of cuisine that included gumbo.
Gumbo is commonly thickened with a dark roux and file (ground
sassafras powder). Okra is a mandatory ingredient that indirectly thickens the stew.
There are many different ways to prepare gumbo. It can contain
chicken, sausage, seafood, catfish or even any blend of those meats, but it is always slow-cooked and has roux as a base.
To begin, make a roux by stirring together ⅓ cup flour and ⅓ cup oil in a two-quart sauce pan until it's smooth. Place over medium-high heat for about five minutes, making sure to stir consistently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes until it becomes a dark red/brownish color. Set aside to cool.
Saute vegetables in the roux and be sure to brown meats before adding them.
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup flour
½ cup minced carrot
⅔ cup minced celery
⅔ cup minced onion
½ cup minced red bell pepper
⅔ cup diced tomato
1 Tbs. thyme
2 Tbs. paprika
3 Tbs. file powder (ground sassafras root)
4 sliced garlic cloves
4 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 quarts shellfish stock, or fish stock,
or at the very least homemade
1 cup sliced tasso ham, cooked
1 cup (or more to taste) thinly sliced andouille sausage, cooked
⅛ cup sliced okra
3 blue crabs
6 Tbs. minced parsley
1 scotch bonnet or habanero chili, roasted and minced
1 lb. shrimp, 15-count, cleaned and sliced in half lengthwise
18 freshly shucked clams with liquids
18 freshly shucked oysters with liquids long-grain rice
Place a large iron soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil and the flour,
stirring to mix. This is the roux. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring
occasionally until the roux is reddish brown. Add the carrot, celery, onion
and red pepper. Stir while it cooks for five minutes.
Add the tomato, thyme, paprika, sassafras and garlic. Cook for several
minutes then add the Worcestershire sauce and the stock. Bring to a boil
and add the ham and sausage, which have already been browned.
Reduce heat to the lowest possible flame needed to maintain the barest
simmer possible. Simmer for one hour, then add the okra and simmer for
two more hours. If the liquid reduces by more than ⅓, add stock to bring it back up to ⅓ of the original mixture.
Add the crabs and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the gumbo
and clean and quarter them. Return crabs to the pot along with the
remaining ingredients. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Season and serve with rice. Use long-grain rice, and cook with a two-to-one ratio of water to rice. Do not wash the rice.
Recipe: Food and Lifestyle - Home and Garden Television
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 bunch shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 rib cerery, chopped
½ cup fresh, sliced mushrooms
½ cup butter
1 (10 ¾ oz. can) Cream of Cerery Soup
4 Tablespoons tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup minced, fresh parsley
½ cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 pound fresh or frozen peeled crawfish tails
1 deep dish pie crust
Saute' onions, shallots, garlic, celery, and mushrooms in butter until tender. Add soup, tomato sauce, sugar, and parsley. Cook 10 minutes. Gradually add breadcrumbs and mix well. Add cream and seasonings; mix well. Stir in crawfish tails. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Do NOT cover pie with a top crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and allow to stand until firm and will not run when cut. Serve warm.
Yield 6 servings. Note: May freeze after cooking and reheat in microwave.
Pepper may be adjusted to suit taste.
Recipe: Charles J. Custer - Memphis, Tennessee - "Boss Pit" Barbecue Team.
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