Friday, May 21, 2010

Cajun and Creole Cookin'

Ooooooooooouuujiiiii…or is it OOOOOOOwwwweeeee…
Either way that is sum go’ ole gumbo! Yez sir…and to make a good gumbo ya need to know how to make a goooooooood roux.

Ok enough of the down home Cajun talk; in fact not sure if you knew this but the word Cajun came from the French settlers that were kicked out of Canada. They traveled down the Appalachian Mountains and onto the Bayous of current day Louisiana. The Creole cookery was derived from the classic French cuisine mixed with the Spanish settlers. Current day Louisiana was at one time the property of Spain, France and the United States.

It is true what is said about a good roux. You know in the first few weeks of culinary school you learn about roux and the properties associated with roux. However, we only really used maybe two styles of roux. In Cajun cooking you go through all of the colors of the roux rainbow. In fact the darker the roux the less moisture it absorbs and more of a flavor enhancer it becomes. In terms of a classic Cajun gumbo you need the darkest roux, or chocolate roux.

Our menu this week of Cajun and Creole consisted of the following: Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo; fried fish in pearly meal with remoulade sauce; crawfish etouffee; bread pudding with whiskey sauce; red beans and rice; baked cheese grits, braised beef daube with glazed carrots, and sugar snap peas; fried oyster po’boy and pecan pralines.
With the gumbo you need to either pan fry the chicken in a deep pan with oil or cook separately and then use the fat in the pan to make the roux…

Go ahead and add the flour to the fat and continuously stir so it doesn’t burn. When you get to the chocolate state (dark reddish/brown); remove from the heat and add the diced “holy trinity” (celery, onion and green pepper) use the vegetables to scrape the pan. You can then add the stock slowly; at the same time whisk the mix to incorporate the roux/veggies with the stock. Bring this to a boil, then simmer, add garlic and andouille sausage. As the gumbo starts to thicken add the fried chicken to the pot and adjust the seasoning. Remember to add the file powder at the end to thicken the gumbo and give it the signature taste.

The fried fish was excellent; I believe we used grouper for the fried fish. Maria made it and it tasted great along with the fresh remoulade I made to go along with the fish. Remoulade is a mixture of creole mustard, mayo and spices. In this case the spices included paprika, salt, lemon juice and Tabasco. The breading for the fish is a mixture of spices, yellow corn flour and yellow cornmeal.
The crawfish etouffee was made by Mike and it turned out great. In this dish you use roux as well but it’s the blond roux; which can thicken and add flavor. After you make the roux (blond/medium brown) you add the “holy trinity” sauté; and then add the crawfish, lemon juice, green onion, parsley, crawfish fat, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Then you want to add clam juice or fish stock; bring to a boil, simmer and set aside. We used clam juice in this recipe and it tasted great!

I made the bread pudding and we no left overs! Take old bread and cut it into 1 -2 in cubes enough to make 2 cups of diced bread. Then toss in a little drawn butter and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes; then soak in about 6 ounces of milk. The oven should be pre-heated to 300 degrees and get a 1 quart pan (or equivalent) buttered in waiting. While toasting the bread beat 1 cup of milk, 1 egg, 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract. Whip this mixture really well until the consistency of custard; then add the milk soaked bread and raisins soaked in orange liqueur (Cointreau, Gran Marnier) mix well. Pour the mixture into the buttered pan in waiting and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar; and top with small cubes of butter. Bake for 1 hour or until set; allow to cool 30 min before cutting. Serve with whiskey sauce, caramel, chocolate sauce…whatever your heart desires. My Whiskey sauce was really a ganache; of cream, caramel and whiskey. MMMMMmmmmmm!

As for the rest of the menu Chef thought everything tasted great! Our red beans and rice were cooked thoroughly and we made this before in fundamentals class. Same thing with our glazed carrots and sugar snap peas; we did them in fundamentals class. The cheese grits were made by Mike and they were AWESOME!!!!!!!! Wow they were so good! Mike baked a mixture of cheesy grits that had added whisked egg, sautéed garlic; baked for 30 minutes and topped with cheese.
The braised beef daube is just like Yankee pot roast which we made back in fundamentals…lol…again! It tasted great but just another Yankee pot roast. Our pralines were burnt unfortunately; the person who cooked our pralines burnt the sugar in the pot (caramel sauce with brown sugar). The big thing of the evening was the oysters! We shucked a lot of oysters and I schooled Maria in oyster shucking…lol…Maria then went on to make oyster po’boys with the remoulade suace I made earlier.

Check out the video at:

Overall a great week and awesome food…as they would say New Orleans…
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! (“Let the Good Times Roll!”)

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