Feast logo

Spicy Food Cajun Style

Cajun cuisine

By Rasma RaistersPublished 19 days ago 8 min read
1

Cajun cuisine can be called rustic cuisine as it uses locally available ingredients and the preparation is simple. An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair – one pot for the main dish, one for steamed rice, skillet cornbread, or some other grain dish, and the third with whatever vegetable is plentiful and available. Some chefs call the aromatic vegetables bell peppers, onions, and celery the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisines. Finely diced and combined in cooking, the method is similar to the use of the mirepoix in traditional French cuisine which blends finely diced onion, celery, and carrot. Characteristic seasonings include parsley, bay leaf, green onions or scallions, and dried cayenne pepper.

Acadian refugees who largely came from what is now modern-day New Brunswick and Nova Scotia adapted their French rustic cuisine to local ingredients such as rice, crawfish, sugar cane, and sassafrass (the leaves of the tree are dried and ground to make a file powder which is a condiment served with some types of gumbo). Cajun cuisine mostly relied on game meats supplemented with rice or corn. The culinary influences of African, French, Spanish, and Native American cuisine can be detected in Cajun food.

Some of the Staple Ingredients of Cajun Food

Grains – corn, rice, and wheat (baking bread).

Fruit and vegetables – bell peppers, blackberries, cayenne peppers. Celery, cucumbers, figs, limes, lemons, mirlitons (also called chayotes or vegetable pears), muscadines (grapes eaten fresh and used in making wine and jellies), okra, onions, pecans, Satsuma oranges, scallions, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, Tabasco pepper, and tomatoes.

Meat and seafood – smoked meats are common. The recent increase in catfish farming in the Mississippi Delta has brought about an increase in its usage in Cajun cuisine in place of the more traditional wild-caught trout (the saltwater species) and redfish. Other seafood that is used includes:

Freshwater – bass, Sac-au-Lait (white perch or crappie and yellow perch.

Saltwater or brackish water species – trout, redfish, pompano, drumfish, flounder, grouper, perch and snapper.

Shellfish – crawfish (either wild swamp or farm-raised), shrimp, oysters, and blue crab.

Pork

Andouille which is a spicy, dry smoked sausage, characterized by a course-ground texture.

Boudin – a fresh sausage made with green onions, pork, and rice. Pig’s blood is sometimes added to produce “boudin rouge”.

Chaurice which is similar to Spanish chorizo.

Chaudin – a pig’s stomach, stuffed with spiced pork and smoked. Also known as ponce.

Ham hocks

Head cheese

Gratons – hog cracklings or pork rinds; fried, seasoned pork fat and skin. Sometimes with small bits of meat attached. Similar to the Spanish chicharrones.

Fresh pork sausage highly seasoned. Mostly used in gumbos. This sausage does not include rice.

Salt pork.

Tasso – a highly seasoned, smoked pork shoulder.

Poultry

Farm-raised turkey also turkey confit and chicken and Guinea hen.

Game birds such as dove, goose, quail, and duck also duck confit.

Other Types of Animals

Frog legs

Alligator, frog legs, Gros bec or commonly called Night Heron, nutria, rabbit, and turtle (farm-raised).

Cajun-style seasoning is often achieved from scratch, even by taste. Whole peppers are rarely used in authentic Cajun dishes they are replaced by ground cayenne, paprika, and pepper sauce. Other seasonings include hot sauce, seafood boil mix, vinegar seasoned with small, pickled, hot green peppers, persillade ( a sauce or seasoning mixture of parsley chopped together with seasonings including garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar), marinades made with olive oil, brown sugar and citrus juices and various barbecue rubs.

Cooking Bases

Dark roux which the Acadians inherited from the French. However, unlike the French, it is made with oil or bacon fat and lately olive oil and not butter. It is used as a thickening agent, especially for gumbo and etouffee. The preparation of roux involves heating fat and flour very carefully, constantly stirring for about 15-45 minutes until the mixture has darkened in color and developed a nutty flavor. Stocks include fish stock and court bouillon, shellfish stock, and chicken stock.

Some Favorite Dishes

Boudin – a type of sausage made from pork, pork liver, rice, garlic, green onions, and other spices. Boudin is made daily as it does not keep well for long. It is typically stuffed in a natural casing and has a softer consistency than other sausage varieties. It is usually served with side dishes such as rice dressing, macque choux (contains corn, green bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, and sometimes garlic and celery, The ingredients are braised in a pot with chicken stock until the vegetables are tender. The dish is finished with salt and a combination of red and black pepper. Some cooks include hot sauce and a bit of sugar) or bread.

Gumbo is a soup influenced by African and Native American food cultures. The word originally meant okra – a word brought to the region from western Africa. Okra is the principal ingredient of many gumbo recipes and is used as a thickening agent and for its distinct vegetable flavor. A file gumbo is thickened with sassafras leaves after the stew has finished cooking which is a practice that was borrowed from the Choctaw Indians. Gumbos include a dark roux and the classic gumbo is made with chicken and the Cajun sausage andouille.

Jambalaya which contains rice and almost anything else available. It will include green peppers, onions, celery, and hot chili peppers.

A celebratory event is a crawfish boil where Cajuns boil crawfish, potatoes, onions, and corn over large propane cookers. Lemons and small muslin bags contain a mixture of bay leaves, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, and other spices. The contents are then dumped onto large, newspaper-draped tables and then scooped onto large trays or plates and eaten by hand.

Other Cajun Dishes and Sides:

Potato salad made with egg, potato, celery, onions, mayonnaise, mustard, and sometimes bell pepper.

Gumbo des Herbes – a gumbo made during Lent when one must abstain from meat. It is made with greens such as turnips, mustard greens, and spinach. They are cooked to mush and strained to produce a thick, green liquid.

Etouffee – the main ingredient is seafood such as crawfish, shrimp, or crabmeat. The basis is a dark brown-red roux. Onions, green peppers, and celery are included and it is seasoned with cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic, and salt.

Dirty rice – made with white rice cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets which give it a dark (“dirty”) color. It also includes green pepper, celery, and onion.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

• 1 cup oil

• 1 cup flour

• 2 large onions, chopped

• 2 bell peppers, chopped

• 4 ribs celery, chopped

• 4 - 6 cloves of garlic, minced

• 4 quarts chicken stock

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• 1 large chicken (young hen preferred), cut into pieces

• 2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces

• 1 bunch of scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped

• 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley

• Filé powder to taste

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat, and reserve meats.

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you're nervous about burning it.

Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.

Add the stock, seasonings, chicken, and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.

Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes.

Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. Accompany with a good beer and lots of hot, crispy French bread.

YIELD: About 12 entrée sized servings.

Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya

Buy whole shrimp to use the shells to make the stock. To make the stock heat up some chicken stock and simmer the shrimp shells for about 30 minutes and strain well.

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup diced Andouille sausage

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced bell pepper

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3/4 cup enriched long-grain rice

1 1/4 cup chicken stock with a shrimp shell infusion (see above)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire

2 Tbsp Minced fresh garlic

1/2 cup diced chicken breast (cooked or raw) 1 1/2 cups medium shrimp

1 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

3 Tbsp finely sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the onion, celery, and bell pepper.

In your cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.

Add the Andouille and cook until it just starts to brown.

Add half of the onion, celery, and bell pepper, and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and cook for another minute.

Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the stock, the remaining half of the onion, celery, and bell pepper.

Add the basic Jambalaya Spice, Worcestershire, and garlic.

Add the chicken, stir well, and put the pot in the preheated oven.

 Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes stir in the raw shrimp, parsley, and green Onions. Then place the dish back into the oven until the shrimp are cooked.

Serve with French Bread.

Basic Jambalaya Spice

Ingredients

2 bay leaves, crushed or ground 

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 

1/4 teaspoon dried or ground sage 

1 teaspoon file powder 

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper 

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional) 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

Yield: Provides ample spicing for 1 jambalaya or gumbo recipe that feeds 4 to 6 people.

cuisine
1

About the Creator

Rasma Raisters

My passions are writing and creating poetry. I write for several sites online and have four themed blogs on Wordpress. Please follow me on Twitter.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.