27 October 2009

5 Cajun, Creole Recipes: 2 Gumbos, Dirty Rice, Pickled Shrimp, Shrimp Stuffed Vegetable Pear

Chef Emeril Lagasse's Creole Dirty Rice dish

From Denny: This is a continuation of last week's post about the Association of Food Journalists annual conference held in New Orleans this month. There were so many recipes posted in our local newspaper! They were skimpy on the photos though.

Some more history on how Louisiana cuisine developed over the centuries with the melting pot of immigrant cultures... Did you know there are two kinds of Italian cooking in New Orleans? One is with the Arab Slavic influence and the second is more French and Spanish seasoning.

What food stands out as an example contrasting the two cultures? Red gravy (think spaghetti sauce). The Arab Slavic seasons with a pinch of cinnamon and sugar to their version of red gravy as a way to take the edge off the sourness of the tomatoes, especially if they are not fresh but canned. (I use dark brown sugar.) The French and Spanish don't use sugar at all. They also don't use a roux base to make their gravy.

What about Creole? They employ a roux to thicken the red gravy, use tomato sauce but never tomato paste. From Chef Leah Chase who cooks Creole style, "Vegetables were cooked down or stuffed in the Creole kitchen. We stuff everything, including people.”

Typical ingredients in the Creole kitchen are garlic, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme and paprika. Celery was not on their radar most of the year until the holidays. And they love to use wine in their cooking too.

For the Creole table, Sunday was gumbo day, Monday was red beans and rice day. Turtle stew was served on Easter holiday. Fridays you were out of luck to get a meal with meat as they observed the old Catholic custom of sacrifice that day, substituting fish.

The following recipes are a sampling of the food loved centuries later to this day that is Creole and Cajun. Hey, if it tastes good, eat it! That's the motto in Louisiana!

Seafood Gumbo

From: Chef Poppy Tooker

Serves: about 10


Gumbo crabs are small crabs mainly used for flavor.
2 lbs. shell-on shrimp
1 medium yellow onion, chopped, onion skin reserved
1 gallon plus 1 cup water
Vegetable oil for frying as needed, plus 1/2 cup
2 lbs. okra, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
4 gumbo crabs
1 (1-lb.) can whole tomatoes
2 tsps. fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Cooked rice


1. Peel and devein shrimp, set shrimp aside; save shells. Combine shells and onion skins in a stock pot. Add 1 gallon plus 1 cup water; boil for 20 minutes. Strain; reserve shrimp stock.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1/2-inch oil. Add okra and fry until light browned. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.

3. In a large stockpot, make a dark roux by whisking 1/2 cup oil and flour together over medium heat. Cook — stirring frequently — until the color becomes milk chocolate brown, about 30 minutes. Add onions to the roux, stirring until it darkens to a bittersweet chocolate brown color, about 5 minutes more.

4. Add celery and bell pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the gumbo crabs, tomatoes, okra, thyme, bay leaf and the shrimp stock. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 45 minutes or longer.

5. Ten minutes before serving, add shrimp and green onions. Serve hot over cooked rice.

Chicken Andouille Gumbo

From: Broussard’s Restaurant

Serves: 12


1-1/2 lbs. chopped andouille sausage
3 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup green pepper
1/2 cup celery
1 lb. chopped okra
Water or half water/half chicken stock
1 tbl. oregano
1 tbl. thyme
2 tbls. filé
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 lb. chopped chicken (white and dark)
Salt and pepper
Cooked rice


1. Sauté the sausage then add onions, bell peppers, celery and okra. After, add 1 gallon of water or stock or half water and half stock and all spices. Cook for 30 minutes.

2. In a separate pot, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook until dark brown.

3. Add roux to gumbo and stir to mix in. Then add chopped chicken and cook 30 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with plain white rice.

Note: Can also be made with seafood, such as shrimp and crabs.

Ashley’s Pickled Shrimp

From: Susan Spicer of Bayona

Serves: 8 to 10


1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
2 tsps. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, cut in half then thinly sliced
3 tbls. capers
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
2 tbls. chopped flat-leaf parsley

For shrimp:

1 lemon, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 tbl. coriander seeds
1 tbl. mustard seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbls. salt (kosher or sea salt)
2 lbs. medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on


1. In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, cider or vinegar, mustard, sugar, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, onion, capers and bay leaves.

2. Place a large pot filled with about 1 gallon water over high heat. Squeeze the lemon quarters into the water, dropping rinds into the pot. Add bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns, pepper flakes and salt to the pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, then add shrimp and return to the boil. Cook until shrimp become opaque and the tails turn bright pink, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Drain well then transfer the still-warm shrimp to bowl of marinade. Marinate shrimp for at least 15 minutes before serving. If made ahead, remove shrimp from marinade before refrigerating; reserve marinade. Dress shrimp with marinade and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Note: One bag crab boil can be used in place of the bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, peppercorns and crushed red pepper flakes.

Stuffed Mirliton With Shrimp and Ham

From: Chef Frank Brigtsen, Brigtsen’s Restaurant

Makes: 13-1/2 cups (12-15 portions as a side dish).

Chef’s Notes: The mirliton, also known as chayote, vegetable pear, or christophene, is a member of the squash family, but is a very unique vegetable with its smooth texture and sweet flavor. In New Orleans, the pale green, pear-shaped mirliton is a “backyard” vegetable, grown in home gardens on trellised vines and harvested in the fall, just in time for holiday tables. Found in specialty grocery stores.


6 large mirlitons
2 tbls. unsalted butter
2 cups diced ham (1/2-inch pieces)
2 cups finely diced green bell peppers (1/4-inch pieces)
4 cups finely diced celery (1/4-inch pieces)
6 cups finely diced yellow onions (1/4-inch pieces)
2 bay leaves
4 tsps. salt
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. whole-leaf dried thyme
1 tsp. whole-leaf dried oregano
2 tsps. whole-leaf dried sweet basil
1 tbl. minced fresh garlic
2 cups peeled medium-size Louisiana shrimp
1 cup shrimp stock
4 tbls. unsalted butter
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups finely ground plain French bread crumbs
2 eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare the mirlitons: Place the mirlitons in a large pot and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the mirlitons are tender, 40-45 minutes. Drain the mirlitons and cover with ice until fully chilled. Peel the mirlitons with a vegetable peeler. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Slice the peeled mirliton halves in half again, lengthwise, and slice into wedge-pieces about 1/4-inch thick. (This should yield about 8 cups of mirliton meat.) Set aside.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot over high heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring constantly, until brown.

4. Add 1-1/2 cups of bell peppers, 3 cups of celery, 4 cups of onion and the bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn dark brown (caramelized).

5. Add the remaining bell peppers, celery and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the second stage of onions turn soft and clear.

6. Reduce heat to low. Add the salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, thyme, oregano, basil and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.

7. Add the shrimp and cook until pink on the outside. Add the shrimp stock and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the mirliton and heat until warm. Remove from heat.

8. Mix in remaining 4 tablespoons butter.

9. Fold in the cheese and bread crumbs.

10. Temper the eggs: In a small bowl, add the eggs. Add 3 spoonfuls of the mirliton dressing, one spoon at a time, until the eggs are heated through. Fold the egg mixture back into the dressing and blend well.

11. Transfer the mirliton dressing to a shallow pan (sheet pan) and bake at 350 degrees until brown and crusty on top, 35-40 minutes.

Creole Dirty Rice

From: Chef Emeril Lagasse

Makes: about 3 cups, serves 4. It is served at Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant with pork cheeks.


1 tbl. vegetable oil
1 tbl. butter
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 lb. ground pork
1/4 lb. chicken livers, puréed
2 bay leaves
1 tbl. finely chopped jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed, if desired
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 cups cooked long-grain, white rice
1/4 cup beef stock or canned, low-sodium beef broth
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Dash of Tabasco or other Louisiana hot sauce, to taste


1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the butter, onion, and bell pepper; sauté vegetables until tender and lightly caramelized, about 4 to 6 minutes.

2. Add the pork and cook, using the spoon to break the pork into small pieces of meat, until well-browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the liver purée, bay leaves, jalapeño, salt, coriander, cumin and cayenne. Cook until spices are fragrant and liver is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the rice and beef stock; continue to cook, stirring, until well-combined and rice is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add kosher salt and pepper, if necessary. Finish with hot sauce, to taste.

*** For part one of the food conference - 3 Oyster Recipes: Awesome Louisiana Food From National Food Conference

*** Thanks for visiting, everyone, come back often and eat well!
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