GOOD CAJUN COOKING

An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, with one pot dedicated to the main dish, one dedicated to steamed rice, special made sausages, or some seafood dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful or available.

The history of cajun

Around 1755, Acadians were forcibly deported by the British in 1755 in what was called le Grand Dérangement, eventually settling in Southern Louisiana. Due to the extreme change in climate, Acadians were unable to cook their original dishes. Soon, their former culinary traditions were lost, and so, these other meals developed to become what is now considered classic Cajun cuisine traditions (not to be confused with the more modern concept associated with Prudhomme‘s style). Up through the 20th century, the meals were not elaborate but instead, rather basic. The public’s false perception of “Cajun” cuisine was based on Prudhomme’s style of Cajun cooking, which was spicy, flavorful, and not true to the classic form of the cuisine.] Cajun and Creole label have been mistaken to be the same, but the origins of Creole cooking began in New Orleans, and Cajun cooking came 40 years after the establishment of New Orleans. Today, most restaurants serve dishes that consist of Cajun styles, which Paul Prudhomme dubbed “Louisiana cooking”. In home-cooking, these individual styles are still kept separate. However, there are fewer and fewer people cooking the classic Cajun dishes that would have been eaten by the original settlers.

Cajun cuisine is a style of cooking named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to what is now called the Acadiana region of Louisiana. Cajun cuisine is sometimes referred to as a ‘rustic cuisine’, meaning that it is based on locally available ingredients and the preparation is relatively simple.

Cajun’s Cooking Method’s

  • Barbequeing – similar to “slow and low” Southern barbecue traditions, but with Creole / Cajun seasoning.
  • Baking – direct and indirect dry heat in a furnace or oven, faster than smoking but slower than grilling.
  • Grilling – direct heat on a shallow surface, fastest of all variants; sub-variants include:
    • Charbonizing – direct dry heat on a solid surface with wide raised ridges.
    • Grid ironing – direct dry heat on a solid or hollow surface with narrow raised ridges.
    • Griddling – direct dry or moist heat along with the use of oils and butter on a flat surface.
  • Braising – combining a direct dry heat charbroil-grill or gridiron-grill with a pot filled with broth for direct moist heat, faster than smoking but slower than regular grilling and baking; time starts fast, slows down, then speeds up again to finish.
  • Boling – as in boiling of crabs, crawfish, or shrimp, in seasoned liquid.
  • Deep frying
  • Smoothering – cooking a vegetable or meat with low heat and small amounts of water or stock, similar to braisingÉtouffée is a popular variant done with crawfish or shrimp.
  • Pan boiling or Pan frying.
  • Injecting – using a large syringe-type setup to place seasoning deep inside large cuts of meat. This technique is much newer than the others on this list, but very common in Cajun Country
  • Stewing, also known as fricassée.

Deep-frying of turkeys or oven-roasted turduckens entered southern Louisiana cuisine more recently. Also, blackening of fish or chicken and barbecuing of shrimp in the shell are excluded because they were not prepared in traditional Cajun cuisine. Blackening was actually an invention by chef Paul Prudhomme in the 1970s, becoming associated with Cajun cooking, and presented as such by him, but is not a true historical or traditional Cajun cooking process.

Cajun’s Food Recipe’s

Boudin

This is a type of sausage made from pork, pork liver, rice, garlic, green onions and other spices. It is widely available by the link or pound from butcher shops. Boudin is typically stuffed in a natural casing and has a softer consistency than other, better-known sausage varieties. It is usually served with side dishes such as rice dressing, maque choux or bread. Boudin balls are commonly served in southern Louisiana restaurants and are made by taking the boudin out of the case and frying it in spherical form.

Gumbo

Among the list of favorites of Cajun cooking involves the soups called gumbos. Contrary to non-Cajun or Continental beliefs, gumbo does not mean simply “everything in the pot”. Gumbo exemplifies the influence of French, Spanish, African and Native American food cultures on Cajun cuisine. The name originally meant okra, a word brought to the region from western Africa. Okra which can be one of the principal ingredients in gumbo recipes is used as a thickening agent and for its distinct vegetable flavor. Many claim that Gumbo is a “Cajun” dish, but Gumbo was established long before the Acadian arrival. Its early existence came via the early French Creole culture In New Orleans, Louisiana, where French, Spanish and Africans frequented and also influenced by later waves of Italian, German and Irish settlers.

A filé gumbo is thickened with dried sassafras leaves after the stew has finished cooking, a practice borrowed from the Choctaw Indians. The backbone of a gumbo is roux of which there are two variations: Cajun, a golden brown roux, and Creole, a dark roux, which is made of flour, toasted until well-browned, and fat or oil. The classic gumbo is made with chicken and the Cajun sausage called andouille, pronounced {ahn-doo-wee}, but the ingredients vary according to what is available.

Jambalaya

Another classic Cajun dish is jambalaya. The only certain thing that can be said about a jambalaya is that it contains rice, some sort of meat (such as chicken or beef), seafood (such as shrimp or crawfish) or almost anything else. Usually, however, one will find green peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes and hot chili peppers. Anything else is optional. This is also a great pre-Acadian dish, established by the Spanish in Louisiana.

Rice and Gravy

Rice and gravy dishes are a staple of Cajun cuisine and is usually a brown gravy based on pan drippings which are deglazed and simmered with extra seasonings and served over steamed or boiled rice. The dish is traditionally made from cheaper cuts of meat and cooked in a cast iron pot, typically for an extended time period in order to let the tough cuts of meat become tender.  Beef, pork, chicken or any of a large variety of game meats are used for its preparation. Popular local varieties include hamburger steak, smothered rabbit, turkey necks and chicken fricassee.

Etouffee

Étouffée or etouffee is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine typically served with shellfish over rice. The dish employs a technique known as smothering, a popular method of cooking in the Cajun areas of southwest Louisiana. Étouffée is most popular in New Orleans and in the Acadiana area of the southernmost half of Louisiana as well as the coastal counties of Mississippi, Alabama, northern Florida, and eastern Texas.