Archive for the 'Fish & Shellfish' Category

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

A decadently creamy Alfredo sauce is probably the quickest and easiest pasta sauce to whip up. Made simply of butter, Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream, a homemade version of this sauce is infinitely better than anything you could buy pre-made at the store.

This popular sauce was invented by Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio back in 1914.  He added Parmesan to a classic butter sauce in an attempt to create a dish that would be appetizing to his pregnant wife.  Little did he know that this simple three ingredient sauce would become a classic in the United States thanks to Hollywood actors like Douglas Fairbanks that frequented his restaurant.

Since the sauce is made of just three ingredients, it is important to use high-quality components.  Never use margarine or a butter substitute.  Also, look for a wedge of a good Parmesan in your deli department. Pre-grated cheese won’t give you as flavorful as sauce or melt as smoothly.

I like to add a touch of freshly ground nutmeg to all my cream sauces. It’s a trick I learned in culinary school in France.  The nutmeg adds another layer of flavor to a dish. A dish is fine without it, but a little can add that special touch to the end result. The trick is to always use freshly grated nutmeg and never use the powdered version.

Serve Alfredo sauce plain over your favorite pasta or dress it up with sautéed shrimp and mushrooms like I do in this version. Chicken could easily be substituted for the shrimp if you are not a seafood fan.

Shrimp Alfredo

For the Alfredo Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound medium shrimp (30/40 count), peeled and deveined
1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) fettuccine, cooked per package directions and kept warm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make the Alfredo sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream and butter to a boil. As soon as it boils, stir in the Parmesan cheese and cook until melted. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

To assemble the pasta: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they become slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes.In a large mixing bowl toss together the warm pasta, the Alfredo sauce, and the shrimp mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

 

 

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.

Photo and Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Blackened Snapper Po-Boy

Blackened Snapper Po-Boy_2811 1

Blackened Snapper Po-Boy

This particular sandwich combines two of my favorite Louisiana treats – blackened fish and the po-boy sandwich.

Legend has it that this sandwich’s name was coined in the Great Depression during a streetcar strike when a New Orleans restaurant owner served the strikers (a.ka. the “poor boys”) free sandwiches. When a striker came by the restaurant, the staff would call out “Here comes another po-boy!”

When making a po-boy, many consider the bread to be the most important part. It should be crispy and flaky on the outside, and soft on the inside. In New Orleans, bakeries make loaves specially designed for po-boy sandwiches. If you are outside of New Orleans, a classic French roll or baguette is the best option. As for the meat of the sandwich, the options are limitless.  Roast beef with gravy, ham and cheese, fried seafood, and grilled fish are some of the most popular. It really up to the creativity of the cook.

I like to use blackened fish on the po-boys I make at home. The main two reasons are that blackening is a really simple cooking technique and that it adds a delicious kick to an otherwise mild fish or meat. The key to blackening is the blackened seasoning. You can find blackened seasoning in the spice department at most neighborhood supermarkets. You simply dust the fish with a light coating of this dry seasoning and then cook it in a cast-iron skillet or on a grill.

I typically use red snapper when I make this sandwich since it’s a Gulf fish often found on New Orleans menus. Any firm white fish, like tilapia or grouper, can easily be substituted for the snapper.

I like to dress my po-boys with the classic lettuce, tomato, and pickle as well as a spicy remoulade sauce.

Enjoy!

Blackened Snapper Po-Boy

For the Remoulade Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions

For the Blackened Snapper Po-Boy:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 red snapper fillets (6 ounces each)
4 tablespoons blackened seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 crusty French rolls, split
1/2 cup sliced dill pickles
4 slices tomatoes
4 pieces tender leaf lettuce

To make the remoulade sauce: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the blackened snapper po-boy: Season both sides of the fish with the blackened seasoning. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan.

Sear the fish on one side until the meat is well browned and releases easily from the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over the fillets and cook until desired doneness, about 5 more minutes.

About 1 minute before the fish is done, lightly toast the rolls.

To serve, spread remoulade sauce on the top and bottom of each roll. Place the fish on the bread and garnish with the pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tips:

Don’t like it spicy? Just omit the blackened seasoning and season your fish with salt and pepper.

This fish can be cooked on a grill.

 

 

Recipe from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler

Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks.  Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Soft Shell Crabs

Soft Shell Crabs … if you have never had them, now is the time to give them a try!

Soft shell crabs are one of my favorite treats. They are only available for a couple of months each year – usually late April through June or July. Soft shell crabs are crabs that have just molted. Their shell is soft … allowing them to be eaten whole. No more need to pick out that coveted meat from a hard shell!

Soft shell crabs fresh from the Gulf are now available. I picked some up last weekend at my local farmers market. Each week Paradise Seafood drives fresh Gulf seafood up from the coast to sell at the Memphis Agricenter Farmers Market and the Memphis Farmers Market downtown. Living in Memphis, we are lucky that the Gulf coast is within driving distance.  If you live no where near a coast line, no worries. You can find soft shell crabs throughout the country at gourmet seafood markets. Just ask your fishmonger.

Soft shell crabs are ideally purchased live so they are at their freshest. Store live soft shell crabs uncovered in the fridge over a bed of wet paper towels for no more than one day. Live soft shell crabs will need to be cleaned. It is a really simple process but a necessary one.  Cooking Light Magazine has an excellent post with step by step instructions. Click here.

If you do have to buy frozen crabs, they have probably already been cleaned. Defrost them overnight in the refrigerator before cooking. Fresh is best but the frozen ones are a close second.

I find the best way to enjoy this seasonal treat is sautéed with a simple dusting of cornmeal.  No need for a deep fryer or heavy batter. Whip up a quick homemade remoulade sauce and from start to finish your soft shell crabs can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs with Remoulade Sauce

For the Remoulade Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions

For the Soft Shell Crabs:
8 soft shell crabs, cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cornmeal
4 tablespoons olive oil

To make the Remoulade Sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Soft Shell Crabs:

Season both sides of the crabs with salt and pepper. Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, lightly dredge both sides of the crabs in the cornmeal, shaking off the excess.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Sear the crabs on one side until lightly browned and soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over the crabs and cook until desired doneness, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Serve warm with a spoonful of the remoulade sauce.

Serves 4.

Do-Ahead: The remoulade dipping sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until just before serving.

Spaghetti Vongole

This is my husband’s favorite dish.  Not only is it delicious, but it brings memories we both love to savor.

Paul spent a semester in college studying in Venice. It was a time I think he will cherish forever. When we were dating, we decided to take a trip to Europe to show each other our “homes” abroad … for me, Paris and for Paul, Venice. It was in Venice, that Paul got down on one knee and made me the happiest girl in the world. That evening, I enjoyed my first true Spaghetti Vongole with a bottle of Pinot Grigio as we celebrated our engagement.

This is the dish I will making for my Valentine this year.  It is full of love, flavor and … as an added bonus is surprisingly simple to make.

Enjoy!

 

Spaghetti Vongole

2 pounds small clams, scrubbed clean
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound linguine, cooked as per package directions, drained, and kept warm
1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sort through your cleaned clams to make sure all are tightly closed. If any aren’t closed, that means they are dead so throw them away.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and the tomatoes.  Stir and cook until the garlic turns fragrant; be careful to not let it brown. Add the white wine and stir to combine. Add the clams, stir gently, and close the lid. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mussels open.

Add the drained pasta to the pot along with the parsley. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Cooking Tips:

When buying fresh clams, do not seal the plastic bag. The clams are still alive and need to breathe. I immediately transfer them to a colander to store in my refrigerator until ready to use.

To prepare the clams, first discard any with broken shells or that are open. Rinse under cold water to remove any dirt.

Any clams that do not open during cooking, should be discarded and not eaten.

Fish Tacos with Mango Slaw & Avocado Crema

If you travel to Mexico’s Baja region or sunny southern California, you will find hundreds of restaurants and food stands offering fish tacos. Most often the fish is beer-battered and fried. This version using marinated fish is a lot easier, and in my opinion, even more flavorful.

Plus I just love the extra boost of flavor from the crunchy mango slaw and the avocado crema. 

Enjoy!

Fish Tacos

For the Mango Slaw:
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 1/2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 cup small-diced mango
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (about half a small onion)
2 tablespoons seeded and finely diced fresh jalapenos
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the Avocado Crema:
2 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Fish Tacos:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 small (4-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

To make the mango slaw: In a large mixing bowl combine the green cabbage, red cabbage, mango, red onion, and jalapeno. Add the lime juice and olive oil and toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the cilantro just before serving.

To make the avocado crema: In a food processor puree the avocado and lime juice until smooth.  Blend in the sour cream. Place the crema in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the fish tacos: In small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and chili powder until well blended. Place the tilapia in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Remove the fish from the marinade, drain off any excess, and discard the marinade. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining tablespoon of oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Sear the fish on one side until the meat is well browned and releases easily from the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the fish to a plate and break into large pieces.

Assemble the tacos by placing the fish (approximately half a fillet per taco) in the center of the tortillas. Garnish with desired amounts of the mango slaw and avocado crema. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Time Saving Tip: Instead of shredding the cabbage for the slaw, pick up a package of shredded Angel Hair Cole Slaw in your produce department.

Do Ahead: The slaw can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Store covered in your refrigerator until ready to serve.

Variation: For a kid friendly version, melt cheddar cheese on a tortilla and top with the seared fish.

Blackened Catfish

If you like a little kick in your food, blackening should be in your cooking repertoire.

It is so easy. It really isn’t a cooking technique at all … but instead is the use of a spicy seasoning.

Blackened seasoning is a fiery mixture of herbs and spices.  You can always pick up a pre-made blend at your local market. But if you would like to make your own blackened seasoning, it’s really not hard to do.  Just whisk together 2 teaspoons paprika and 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, cayenne pepper, granulated sugar, salt, and black pepper. For a little less heat, reduce the amount of cayenne and black pepper. (This mixture will store for several weeks, tightly sealed, in your spice cabinet.)

Delicious on fish or chicken, I like to generously season the meat with the blackened seasoning and then either sear it in a skillet over the stove-top or grill it.

This recipe is the basic technique for blackening fish. Feel free to substitute chicken or your favorite fish for the catfish. Tilapia, salmon, and swordfish all taste delicious blackened.

Enjoy!

Blackened Catfish

In Memphis (my hometown), Soul Fish Café may be known for its fried catfish, but my favorite item on their menu is the blackened catfish.  This is my homemade version along with the not-so-traditional remoulade they serve on the side to cut the heat.

For the Remoulade Dipping Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions

For the Blackened Catfish:
4 catfish fillets (6 ounces each)
4 tablespoons blackened seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the Remoulade Dipping Sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Blackened Catfish:

Season both sides of the fish with the blackened seasoning. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Sear the fish on one side until the meat is well browned and releases easily from the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over the fillets and cook until desired doneness, about 5 more minutes. Serve warm with a spoonful of the remoulade dipping sauce.

Serves 4.

Do-Ahead: The remoulade dipping sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until just before serving.

Pan-Roasted Sea Bass with Chive-Garlic Compound Butter

Pan-roasting is the ideal way to cook fish. You sear the fish until it has a nice golden crust and then you finish it in the oven to keep it moist and flaky.

This cooking technique works great for all types of fish…whether meaty fishes like swordfish, tuna, or salmon or more delicate fishes like flounder, sole, and orange roughy.

The trick is to always sear the flesh side down first and to not flip the fish until it has a good golden crust and easily releases from the pan.

Enjoy!

PS: Compound butter is simply butter with an added flavor or two mixed in. These butters are a very easy way to dress up a simple dish.

Pan-Roasted Sea Bass with Compound Butter

For the Chive-Garlic Compound Butter:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
2 tablespoons finely minced chives
1 clove garlic, minced
A pinch of Kosher salt

For the Pan-Roasted Sea Bass:
4 sea bass fillets (4 to 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare the Chive-Garlic Compound Butter:

In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the chives, garlic, and salt and mix until  thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mixture in the shape of a log onto a piece of parchment paper. Fold the paper over itself. Using your hands, shape the butter into a cylinder about 1 1/2 inches wide (almost like making a Tootsie Roll). Once it is shaped, twist the edges to seal it. Place in the freezer to set, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, slice the roll into 1/4-inch rounds and remove the parchment. (Only 4 slices of compound butter are need for this recipe.)

For the Pan-Roasted Sea Bass:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Generously season the sea bass with salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until a few water droplets sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the skillet. Sear the sea bass, skin side up, until the meat is well browned and easily releases from pan, about 4 minutes. Flip over and cook until seared, about 1 minute. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the fish is medium-rare, about 5 minutes, or until desired doneness. 

Serve with a slice of compound butter on top.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: Compound butter is simply butter with an added flavor or two mixed in. These butters are a very easy way to look like you went to a lot of trouble. In addition to fish, it is also delicious with potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, vegetables, and on steaks. Experiment with your favorite flavors. Examples of some of my other favorite compound butter combinations are Lemon Chive, Fresh Herb, Bacon Blue Cheese, Parmesan & Toasted Pine nut.

Do-Ahead: The rolled butter can be stored for up to 1 month in the freezer.

Lemon Salmon

If you have ever been nervous about cooking fish, this is the recipe to help you overcome your fear.

Despite popular belief, cooking fish is probably one of the easiest kitchen skills.  When armed with a few basic facts, you will be cooking fish like a pro.

Smell it!

When buying fish, ask to smell it.  The fish should smell more like the ocean than dead fish. If it smells overly fishy, that means it is past its prime and will taste overly fishy too.

Don’t overcook it!

Fish should be treated like red meat.  It is best served at medium-temperature. Overcooking will give your fish a strong fishy taste and odor.

I like to remove my fish from the heat (whether oven, stove-top, or grill) just before I think it’s done and let it finishing cooking in the hot pan.

Marinate it!

Marinating fish will add moisture and flavor. However, keep in mind that fishes are delicate.  Fish should never be marinated no longer than 1 hour.

In this recipe, baking the salmon in the marinade helps the fish stay tender and moist.

Ready, Set, Fish!

Enjoy!

Lemon Salmon

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 boneless salmon filets (4 to 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a shallow non-reactive baking dish whisk together the lemon juice, white wine, and oil. Scatter the shallots, lemon slices, and thyme sprigs evenly across the bottom of the pan. Place the salmon filets, flesh side down, into the pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no longer than 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 385 degrees.

Remove the pan from the fridge, and let it stand until the fish is to room temperature, about 10 minutes on your kitchen counter. Turn the fish over, so the flesh side is up and the skin side is down, and place it back in the marinade. Generously season the fish with salt and pepper. Bake the fish in the marinade for 30 minutes, or until cooked to desired temperature.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tips:

This lemony marinade is also delicious with other types of light and flaky fish (such as tilapia, orange roughy, and halibut) as well as shellfish (scallops and shrimp). The cooking times may vary slightly depending on thickness.

When marinating anything in an acid such as lemon juice, wine, or vinegar be sure to use a non-reactive container. Cookware made from glass, ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel are all non-reactive and safe to use. (Plastic storage bags are also a great, mess-free option.) Avoid cookware made from aluminum or copper when marinating because those metals will react with the marinade and give your food a metallic taste.

Crawfish Boil

Peel ‘um, Eat ‘um and Suck the Heads!

Crawfish is probably the one ingredient that most Americans associate with Cajun cooking. Once deemed a poor man’s food from the swamp waters of Southern Louisiana, these little lobster-like crustaceans were a treat that local fisherman enjoyed only at home.  It wasn’t until they were specially featured at the Breaux Bridge Centennial Celebration in the early 1960s that crawfish gained widespread social acceptance. Once the world discovered the sweet, tasty meat of the so nicknamed “mudbug,” they started showing up not only in backyard boiling pots but also on restaurant tables.  Due to their rise in popularity, crawfish are now commercially farmed throughout the South.

Crawfish boils where guests “peel ‘um, eat ‘um and suck the heads” are one of the most popular ways to enjoy this Cajun treat. Live crawfish are boiled in a spicy mixture of garlic, onions, corn cobs, new potatoes and the all important cayenne pepper. The finished product is dumped on a platter or a table covered with newspaper and guests eat the tasty meat of the crawfish tails and then suck the spicy juices from the head.

Crawfish season runs roughly from Mardi Gras (mid-February) through June.  Call your local seafood wholesaler or ask your grocer’s seafood manager to order it for you in advance.

Don’t let crawfish season pass you by without “sucking the head and eating the tail” of at least one (or in my case several dozen) mudbugs!

Enjoy!

Crawfish Boil

Serves 15 to 20

30 pounds live crawfish (one sack)
2 cups salt for purging
2 (3 oz.) boxes crab boil seasoning
10 small onions, peeled and halved
2 pounds sliced Andouille sausage
5 pounds small red or new potatoes, unpeeled
4 heads garlic, sliced in half
10 ears of fresh corn-on-the-cob, shucked and broken in halves 

To purge the crawfish, place them in a large plastic tub or a large ice chest and rinse them in enough changes of water for the water to run reasonably clear. Then add more water to cover the crawfish and add 2 cups of salt. Stir for 3 minutes, then rinse crawfish. Keep the cleaned and drained crawfish uncovered until ready to cook.

Fill a large 18 to 20 gallon pot three-quarters full.  Add the crab boil seasoning. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Boil 2 to 3 minutes to allow the spices to mix well.

Using a large wire basket that fits into the pot, add the onions, sausage, potatoes, garlic, and corn. Maintain a boil and cook 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the crawfish to the wire basket, stirring them a bit.  Cook an additional 7 to 10 minutes, being careful not to overcook the crawfish. Remove the wire basket from pot.

To serve, line a table with newspaper. Lift the basket from the stock and drain. Dump the basket ingredients directly on newspaper.

Note: Be sure to have plenty of paper towels and beer on hand!

Cooking Tip: Leftover crawfish can be peeled and the meat frozen to be later used in dishes such as Crawfish Etouffee, Crawfish Pies, and Seafood Gumbo.

Photo by Natalie Root Photography. Styled by Jennifer Chandler.

Shrimp, Chicken, & Sausage Jambalaya

“Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo…son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.” So goes the refrain of the famous song “Jambalaya” by Hank Williams Sr.

Leave it to the folks in Louisiana to make a catchy tune about food their anthem. No where else in the country is food such an integral part of the culture. One only has to mention the city New Orleans and good times and great food come to mind.

South Louisianans have a love and a passion for good food. Their cuisine is unique because, as a whole, it has a much bigger flavor than what you get in the rest of the United States.

For those not born and raised in Louisiana, what we consider “Cajun” food for the most part is technically “Creole” cooking. The French who settled in Southern Louisiana in the early 1700s adapted their own outstanding culinary techniques to the abundant herbs, seafood, games, meat, vegetables and fruits of the region. Eventually their cooking style was infused with spiciness from the Spanish settlers and African slaves’ use of herbs. This mélange of styles became known as Creole cookery.

Native Louisianans differentiate between Creole cooking and Cajun cooking based on the use of rouxs and spices. Creole cooking is based on French techniques with less emphasis on roux than Cajun cooking.  The herbs of choice are oregano, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Also, almost every dish has celery, parsley, onions and bell peppers in its list of ingredients. Cajun cooking on the other hand is heavily dependant on the use of rouxs. It uses the same herbs and vegetables as Creole cooking but often adds the spice of cayenne or Tabasco.

Creole cooking is most attributed to New Orleans whereas Cajun food is most identified with towns such as Lafayette and Ville Platte in Southwest Louisiana.

The Creole version of “dirty rice,” jambalaya is best enjoyed simply with a loaf of crusty French bread. My recipe include shrimp, chicken, and sausage…but you can omit easily omit the shrimp if someone at your table has an allergy.

Enjoy! 

Shrimp, Chicken, and Sausage Jambalaya

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Andouille sausage, diced
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced green bell pepper (1 pepper)
1/4 cup finely diced celery (2 ribs)
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 can (15-ounce) tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups white rice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Sauté the chicken, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and then, in the same pot, sauté the sausage until browned. Transfer the sausage to the plate with the chicken. Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.

To the pot, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. (Stir often so that everything cooks evenly.) Add the garlic, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves and sauté until the mixture is cooked down, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the vegetable mixture is cooking, combine the tomato sauce and chicken stock in a separate pot and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice to the vegetable mixture and sauté for about 3 minutes. Return the meats to the pot and stir to combine. Continuously stirring to combine, slowly pour the tomato and stock mixture into the jambalaya. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Bring the jambalaya to a boil, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and fold in the shrimp.  Let everything continue to cook in the hot covered pot for an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm. 

Serves 6 to 8.

Cooking Tip: Andouille sausage is a smoked, spicy pork sausage that is popular in Cajun recipes such as gumbo and jambalaya. If you can’t easily find it in you local grocery, Chorizo is an acceptable substitute.


Jennifer Chandler

Search Recipes by Category

Learn more with the Simply Grilling cookbook

Learn more with the Simply Salads cookbook

Follow me!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 157 other followers

Twitter Updates