26 February 2010

New Orleans Recipes: Crawfish Etouffee, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Jambalaya, Sazerac Cocktail

From Denny: Can I tell you there were so many network specials on Mardi Gras this year I'm still trying to catch up on their offerings? CBS brought in Marian Cairns from Southern Living Magazine, a favorite read at our house. What I like about this video is Cairns introduces people to Cajun food by explaining the differences among the recipes and properly defines and demonstrates the terms used.

If you have yet to visit New Orleans, this is your chance to familiarize yourself with some of the foods and try making them at home. This kind of comfort food is perfect for the cold weather we are experiencing across the country.

Though Mardi Gras is enjoyed in several places in the world like France and Spain, well, no one is as crazy as we are in New Orleans, Louisiana! Tourists come from all over the world just to experience the wild atmosphere and take in some tummy warming Cajun and Creole good food.

This year the festivities were kicked off early with the Cinderella football team, the New Orleans Saints, winning the Super Bowl. They partied and danced in the French Quarter as soon as the win was announced. The French Quarter is the gathering place for events much like St. Peter's Square is for the citizens of Rome, Italy where they gather.

Normal Mardi Gras is a week of festivities that ends at midnight on Fat Tuesday. Then Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season of dialing back on the excess and frivolity, exchanging partying for sacrifice and sobriety. South Louisiana is predominantly Catholic while the northern half of the state is Protestant Baptist. New Orleans has clung to its European culture, still celebrating 300 years later after they arrived in the 1700's.

Just know, like here in Louisiana, feel free to substitute when you can't get an ingredient. We use shrimp for etoufee when we it isn't crawfish season. We make chicken and sausage gumbo all year long, even in the heat of summer as it is an economical dish. We make jambalaya like other people make hamburgers: often! :) ...

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Check out awesome Louisiana eating: oysters, shrimp, crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya from Louisiana artist Denny Lyon

Marian Cairns New Orleans food tradition tutorial:

Jambalaya: is a one-pot sausage and seafood stew; kind of a jazzed-up Louisiana take on paella.

Jambalaya and Gumbo are cousins. The difference is that, in jambalaya, the rice is cooked into the recipe and gumbo, which is more like a stew, is served over rice. Jambalaya can be made with or without tomatoes; Cairns' recipe uses tomatoes.

Étoufée is a richer, saucier recipe that starts with the a roux Every Louisiana cook knows first you make a roux. Roux is used to thicken everything - it's the foundation of all of the classic mother sauces, a 50/50 combo of flour and oil or butter. The key is to stir it - it goes from blonde to chocolate, and the darker it gets, the more flavor it imparts it the recipe. Étoufée traditionally includes shrimp, crawfish, lump crab meat, and is served over rice. You can dip your bread in it if you like. (Denny: That's practically a religion around here!)

Sazerac cocktail: Most people think of the Hurricane when they think of Mardi Gras, but in fact, the official drink of New Orleans is the Sazerac. Legend has it that the Sazerac was New Orleans' first cocktail (in fact in 2008, an amendment was passed making it the official cocktail of the city). Classic ingredients are Peychaud's Bitters, Herbsaint (an anise flavored, absinthe substitute), and rye whiskey (which is distilled from rye grain) - it has a rich flavor that's similar to Bourbon (but Bourbon is distilled with AT LEAST 51 percent corn).

And for dessert, Cairns had the traditional King Cake. There's a little "baby" baked into the cake and, tradition has it, whoever gets the baby is responsible for hosting the party next year. (Denny: I have recipes for King Cake on this blog, just do a search at the top of the page as it's set up to search inside the blog better than other search engines.)

Cajun as opposed to Creole (This often confuses people)

These culinary cousins are all about traditional Louisiana cooking.

Cajun is thought of as more "country" cooking, while Creole encompasses a more refined "city" food though, today, both borrow from each other and blur the lines into one giant "gumbo pot" that creates our country's richest and most diverse regional cuisine.

Creole traditionally refers to a more sophisticated melding of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences (i.e. crab meat, richer more refined sauces), while Cajun, which also draws heavily on French and Spanish influences, includes cooking traditions from the rural communities west and south of New Orleans, folks who were, in many cases, living off the land (i.e. crawfish, Tasso ham which is similar to Italian prosciutto).

The beauty is, gumbo, jambalaya, and étoufée, can fall into both categories since, over the years, they all borrowed from one another (i.e. crawfish in the étoufée instead of crab meat; jambalaya with tomatoes is more Creole, while jambalaya without tomatoes is more Cajun.)

Recipes Featured:

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Crawfish Etoufee
Sazerac Cocktail

Watch CBS News Videos Online - update 2013: guess this video embed code makes this no longer available - but the recipes follow below!

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Chicken-and-Sausage Gumbo

4 to 6 servings

Prep: 55 min.
Cook: 3 hrs.


1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Andouille is smokey and spicy)
4 skinned bone-in chicken breasts
Vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 quarts hot water
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
4 green onions, sliced
Filé powder (optional)
Hot cooked rice
Garnish: chopped green onions


Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until browned. Drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Set sausage aside.
Cook chicken in reserved drippings in Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or until browned. Remove to paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Set chicken aside.
Add enough oil to drippings in Dutch oven to measure 1/2 cup.

Add flour, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 20 to 25 minutes, or until roux is chocolate colored.

Stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until tender. Gradually add 2 quarts hot water, and bring mixture to a boil; add chicken, garlic, and next 5 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Remove chicken; let cool.

Add sausage to gumbo; cook 30 minutes. Stir in green onions; cook for 30 more minutes.
Bone chicken, and cut meat into strips; return chicken to gumbo, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Remove gumbo from heat. Sprinkle with filé powder, if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice. Garnish, if desired.


6 to 8 servings


1 (16-ounce) package spicy hickory-smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups uncooked rice
1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 pound unpeeled medium-size fresh shrimp
3 tablespoons chopped green onions


Brown sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons drippings in pan. Add onion and bell pepper, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until tender.

Add garlic, and sauté 1 more minute.

Add rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients.

Peel shrimp, and devein, if desired.

Stir in shrimp and green onions; cook 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.

Crawfish Étouffée

4 to 6 servings

Prep: 35 min.
Cook: 22 min.


1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14-oz.) can low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 pounds cooked, peeled crawfish tails*
Hot cooked rice


1. Melt butter with oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until caramel colored. Add onion and next 6 ingredients; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. Add chicken broth, parsley, and chives; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until mixture is thick and bubbly.

3. Stir in crawfish; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with hot cooked rice.

*2 lb. frozen cooked crawfish tails, thawed and drained, may be substituted for fresh.

Sazerac Cocktail

Said to be The Big Easy's first cocktail, it was originally served at the Sazerac Coffee House.

Yield: Makes 1 serving


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Ice cubes
1/4 cup rye whiskey or bourbon
1/4 teaspoon bitters
1/4 teaspoon anise liqueur
Lemon rind twist


Cook 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and cool.

Pack a 3 1/2-ounce cocktail glass with ice cubes, and set glass aside.

Combine whiskey, bitters, sugar syrup, and a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker; stir to chill.

Discard ice cubes in cocktail glass. Coat inside of glass with liqueur, shaking out excess liqueur. (For stronger licorice flavor, leave excess liqueur in glass.) Rub lemon rind over rim of glass, and discard rind.

Strain whiskey mixture into prepared glass. Serve drink immediately.

Note: For testing purposes only, we used Jim Beam Straight Rye Whiskey, Peychaud's Bitters, and Herbsaint anise liqueur. Rye whiskey is distilled from rye grain instead of wheat and barley, giving it a smooth, rich flavor similar to that of bourbon.

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