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Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana

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From Cochon Butcher

My copy of Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana arrived last Thursday, and I was like a kid opening his first gift on Christmas morning, shuffling for something to open the box with, flinging aside the bubble wrap to stare into a beautifully photographed crock of Gumbo. The title is in big bold white letters REAL CAJUN, as if to say, ok, enough with the blackening already, enough with the notion that everything Cajun is super spicy, enough with the Bourbon Chicken in the food courts; let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Real Cajun, rustic, simple, home cooked meals.

It seems only fitting that the Chef owner of Cochon, and Cochon Butcher (no, I’m not forgetting Herbsaint), would have homemade Bacon as the first recipe in his cookbook, with the first “chapter” bearing the title La Vie Cochon, with recipes including Tasso, Boudin, Pork Belly Cracklins, and more. The most mouthwatering recipe in this chapter, in my humble opinion, is Smothered Pork Roast over Rice, a simple recipe based on his Granny’s preparation, with a photo so beautiful that I swear you will try to lick the wooden spoon before the sauce drips back into the pot.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that he didn’t include more Charcuterie than he did, but I totally understand why he didn’t, keeping it practical for the home cook I guess. (I have my fingers crossed for a follow up book surrounding Louisiana Charcuterie, or a Cochon cookbook.) Don’t get me wrong though, the Charcuterie recipes that are included, Bacon, Boudin, Tasso, Deer Sausage, etc.. are top notch, I can’t wait to try Chef Link’s Boudin recipe, the photo is outstanding as are all of the photos in this book all by Chris Granger. I was looking for Chef Link’s Andouille, Hog’s Head Cheese, and Creole Mustard, but the recipes that filled these spaces totally made up for it and more.

The book’s recipes are wonderful in their simplicity (this is not a restaurant cookbook, although some of the dishes from his restaurants appear) with beautiful photographs that make me long to be in the stifling heat of Louisiana everytime I look at them. Some of the photographs from the book are hanging on the walls of Chef Link’s private dining facility Calcasieu, which is next store and upstairs from Cochon Butcher.

From Cochon Butcher

Real Cajun is mostly cookbook and part memoir, which all builds wonderfully around the recipes, just the kind of cookbook that I love, and reminiscent of another favorite of mine, Marcelle Bienvenu’s Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux? What comes through in both books is a love of Louisiana, real Cajun cuisine, family, and tradition.

This book is loaded with great recipes, I’ve tried out a few of them now, all were absolutely outstanding. Including Catfish Fried in Bacon Fat. The bacon fat adds an incredible richness to the crisp and moist catfish without taking over the flavor. I also made my own Tartar sauce as an accompaniment with crumbled Bacon added to it; what the hell right, the cholesterol meter is already broken. This is probably the best Catfish that I’ve made:

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

I also made the Chicken & Dumplings, a lot of great technique in this recipe, the best I thought was putting the pan into a 450 degree F oven to finish the dumplings. The stew is very similar to my recent Chicken Fricassee recipe, but the real magic happens when the dumpling batter is added and the whole pan is popped into the 450 oven. By the way, I made this for my wife and my Mom & Dad last night and they said the dumplings reminded them of Thanksgiving Stuffing, I agree. Awesome flavor with the addition of dried Oregano and raw minced onion.

From Nola Cuisine

I also used the Buckle recipe, but used Blueberries as they were the best fruit that I could find, his is made with fresh Peaches which aren’t in season right now. The Blueberry Buckle was dessert last night with good strong French Market Coffee, following the Chicken & Dumplings.

From Nola Cuisine

All in all, I haven’t been this inspired by a Louisiana cookbook since first reading the year 2000 publication of Commander’s Kitchen by Ti Adelaide Martin and the late great Jamie Shannon.

I don’t recommend just anything, but I really think that this a great book, loaded with not only great recipes, but stories to go with each one. My copy is already getting a little worn, the page with the buckle recipe has some dried egg white on it, the back cover has a sticky substance from my kitchen counter. All signs of a good cookbook I guess.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipe featured on this site!

Also take a look at my Bibliography of Creole & Cajun Cookbooks!

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Jacob’s Andouille

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From Jacob's Andouille

On my last day in Louisiana last month I decided to drive out to Laplace before going to the airport, to visit the self proclaimed “Andouille Capital of the World.” I originally meant to go to all three big one’s, those being Jacob’s, Bailey’s, and Wayne Jacob’s, but I only made it to Jacob’s, I decided I would rather chill out and explore some back roads in the area before a miserable day of air travel.

I did make it to Jacob’s and brought back some Andouille and Tasso to take home with me.

Jacob’s Andouille
505 West Airline Highway LaPlace, LA 70068
1-985-652-9080
Toll Free: 1-877-215-7589

The drive to Laplace from New Orleans is beautiful, driving over the wetlands and on the fringe of Lake Pontchartrain, I really enjoyed the fresh spring air and the sunshine.

Jacob’s is a short drive from I-10 at 505 W. Airline Drive, about a 40 minute drive from New Orleans and about 20 minutes doubling back to the airport.

Another option, like I said in an earlier post, if you don’t have time to make the commute to Laplace before returning home, head to Cochon Butcher in the warehouse district, they’re producing awesome Andouille, Tasso, Boudin, you name it.

From Jacob's Andouille

Jacob’s is a small storefront off of the often busy Airline dr., and if you’re not hungry for Andouille….there is a Taco Bell and Burger King across the street, kind of a buzz kill but I managed to block it out. No corporate swine please, just swine.

From Jacob's Andouille

Here is the pig on their front porch.

From Jacob's Andouille

By the way, my new ride was waiting for me in the parking lot.

From Jacob's Andouille

Upon entering Jacob’s you are of course slapped with a wonderful smoke aroma as should be expected. Here is the menu of their smoked items.

From Jacob's Andouille

I went for the Andouille and Tasso, pork of course, although they offer more health conscious versions of both, using Turkey and Chicken. Here is the beautiful pork Andouille in the case.

From Jacob's Andouille

Here is one of the cases of miscellaneous smoked items, check out the smoked pig tails.

From Jacob's Andouille

I paid for my Andouille & Tasso and packed them into my suitcase for the flight home. (By the way, that suitcase will smell like Louisiana smoked meats for the entire length of it’s use!)

I also drove around back to check out their trailers filled with Pecan wood which Jacob’s uses exclusively.

From Jacob's Andouille
From Jacob's Andouille

When I arrived home I had to pull out the Andouille and Tasso to sample and take some pics. Jacob’s Andouille is slow smoked with Pecan for 10-12 hours until it is a deep Mahogany color. Jacob’s has been family owned and operated since 1928.

From Jacob's Andouille

The Andouille’s flavor is very good, a wonderful level of heat, not too much, not too little, and a phenomenal level of smoke flavor. The pork is coarsely chopped and stuffed into fresh beef casings and is almost 2 inches in diameter. (Here is my homemade Andouille sausage recipe)

From Jacob's Andouille

I was less impressed with the Tasso.

From Jacob's Andouille

Although it had a profound Pecan smoke flavor, as well as a great texture, I thought that it really lacked seasoning. It just tasted like smoked pork, which would still be great for throwing into a pot of beans, but I actually much prefer my homemade Tasso recipe. I was kind of proud of myself with that conclusion.

I made a great pot of Red Beans the next day with these ingredients, recipe and photos coming soon!

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

Related Posts:

Andouille Sausage Recipe
Tasso Recipe
Cochon Butcher
Cochon Restaurant

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Crawfish Boil Recipe

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From Crawfish Boil

Any spring social event in Louisiana is most definitely going to be centered around a Crawfish Boil. This is a time to relax with family and friends, enjoy the outdoors, and enjoy the bounty of the season, live Louisiana Crawfish.

The magic behind your boil, in my humble opinion, remains in the hands of two details. Fresh, Lively Crawfish, and your cooking liquid.

Crawfish Boil Recipe

15 lbs Live Louisiana Crawfish
4 Large Spanish Onions, quartered
6 Lemons, halved
4 Heads garlic, halved widthwise
8 Fresh Bay Leaves
3 Bags Crab Boil
1 bunch fresh Thyme
1 Cup Creole Seasoning
1/2 Cup Cayenne, or to taste
1 1/2 lbs Kosher Salt
About 5 Gallons of water, or enough to fill a 30 Quart turkey fryer pot 3/4 full
3 lbs Small Redskin Potatoes
6 Ears of Fresh Corn, shucked, trimmed and cut in half

Bring the water to a boil in a 30 quart Turkey fryer pot with the onions, lemons, garlic, bay leaves, crab boil, cayenne and salt. When the mixture reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

From Crawfish Boil

Your crawfish should be picked through for dead ones and placed and washed by first hosing them down, then leaving them in the basket and placing it into a large pot, filling it with water, draining, filling with water, draining, until the remaining water is eventually clean, about 3-4 times. I’m not in the purging with salt camp, I don’t think it does anything more than what I described above.

From Crawfish Boil

While you’re waiting, and this is a very important part of this recipe, drink a few of your favorite ice cold beers and go visit with your company, this is a social event, relax enjoy! Have the washed Redskins waiting in the basket insert nearby and visit. Take advantage of the downtime!

Before adding anything to the pot, taste your cooking liquid! It should taste overly salty and overly spicy. Drink more cold beer, then add your basket insert to the pot with the potatoes. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. After said time has passed add the corn, and cook for about 10 minutes.

From Crawfish Boil

Bring the liquid to a boil and add the live Crawfish.

From Crawfish Boil

Bring the pot back to a boil as quickly as possible, give a good healthy stir and boil for about 5-10 minutes depending on their size.

From Crawfish Boil

Turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot and allow the crawfish to steep in the liquid for 20-30 minutes. The longer they steep, the spicier and more flavorful they will become. When in doubt as to how long to let them steep, pull one out and have a taste! When you’re sure that they are ready, lift the basket and let them drain. When they are well drained dump the contents of the basket onto a picnic table or any outdoor table heavily lined with newspaper.

From Crawfish Boil

Everyone please note, I don’t have any feeling left in my hands from working in the kitchens all these years. The girls were laughing as I was holding the basket with steam blowing off of it, this isn’t a dummy shot, just a big dummy holding a hot pot with bare hands.

From Crawfish Boil

Let your guests belly up to the table and eat until their hearts are content!

Here are some pics from our small but wonderful boil!

From Crawfish Boil
From Crawfish Boil

The full spread, the potatoes and corn take on all of those wonderful flavors. The potatoes especially, the skins dry out and develop that salt crust and the insides take on the spice.

From Crawfish Boil
From Crawfish Boil

Here is my baby girl Anna with her portion.

From Crawfish Boil

Yeah, that was a gag shot, we can’t even get this little one to eat chicken fingers, don’t worry though, I will keep cracking away on her culinary darings.

Thanks again to Charlie and the fine folks from Cajun Grocer for the generous portion of their premium Live Louisiana Crawfish!

This is my brother Brad. We don’t get together as often as we should these days but this boil was the perfect opportunity to do so and we had a wonderful time. Brad actually helps me with all of the technical details on this site and even hosts it for me on his server! He is also responsible for the new layout, which I absolutely love and has inspired me to start posting more often. Thanks for everything Brad!

From Crawfish Boil

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

Related Posts:

Crawfish Etouffee Recipe
Live Louisiana Crawfish

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Live Louisiana Crawfish from Cajun Grocer

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Back when I did my review of Cajun Grocer’s Turducken in November, Charlie asked me if I would like to do a review of their Live Louisiana Crawfish when the season came around. Hmm…live Louisiana crawfish, for free? Let me think about it…..just kidding, of course!

Thanks a million to Charlie and the folks at Cajun Grocer for sending such a generous portion of a superior product, and all I had to do was just write about it, which I do for fun anyway!

I contacted Charlie from Cajun Grocer last week and he asked me when I planned on boiling them and I said Saturday, he suggested shipping them Thursday for Friday and keeping them someplace cool with a bag of ice on them until I was ready to boil on Saturday, this worked out perfectly. The crawfish arrived early Friday morning and I promptly did as he said, hosed them down in the sack, and placed them into a cooler with a bag of ice over them. I peeked around through the purple sack in awe of the size of some of the little devils, as their beady little eyes watched me as well.

From Crawfish Boil

When Saturday rolled around I hosed them down again and placed them back into the cooler, again covered with ice. I invited my brother Brad and his girlfriend Heather over for a boil, the 15 lbs would be more than enough for the four of us, you see, up in Michigan folks don’t crush the 5-8 pounds that can be standard in Louisiana.

From Crawfish Boil

I got my liquid boiling away (my crawfish boil recipe) in the afternoon in a 30 quart Turkey Fryer with a basket insert at the ready. I cut my onions, lemons, garlic, corn, washed the new potatoes and headed out to cut the sack open and sort through the critters to remove any casualties from travel and time, and I was pleased to find that there were very few dead ones, and in fact the majority were extremely feisty.

From Crawfish Boil
From Crawfish Boil

Even more impressive than than how feisty they were, was their size, varying from medium to gargantuan like this one.

From Crawfish Boil

I picked through them one by, sorting them in my 2 1/2 year old daughters wading pool, as she watched in horror. “In my poool!!! in my pool!!”

From Crawfish Boil

After I got them sorted I washed them several times by first hosing them down, then leaving them in the basket and placing it into a large pot, filling it with water, draining, filling with water, draining, until the remaining water was eventually clean, about 3-4 times. Clean and ready for the boil!

From Crawfish Boil

Coming next, the Crawfish Boil Recipe using Cajun Grocer’s Crawfish!

Related Posts:

Crawfish Etouffee Recipe

Preview Pic!

From Crawfish Boil

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes whick links to every recipe featured on Nola Cuisine!

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Parasol’s Restaurant and Bar

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From Parasol's

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! The annual block party begins at Parasol’s on Constance & Third in the Irish Channel at 11:00 a.m.!! I wish I could be there.

Parasol’s Restaurant & Bar
2533 Constance Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Parasol’s Restaurant & Bar, like any respectable neighborhood restaurant in New Orleans doesn’t look like a place that you would consider eating. Drinking absolutely, eating no.

From Parasol's

And let me say that this is one of the great drinking establishments in New Orleans, a wonderful hole in the wall bar, almost always packed with locals and whomever else happens to walk or stumble through the door.

From Parasol's

The kind of Irish Pub with hand written signs that say things like “A 20% gratuity will be added to any credit cards left at the bar. You Drunks!!” This one made me laugh because in my past, I have to admit…guilty as charged. It’s always good to be in a town where you’re among friends.

From Parasol's

Running parallel with the bar, on the other side of the wall is a somewhat dingy little dining room (I say that with the utmost respect and actually as a compliment), where in my humble opinion, the BEST Roast Beef Po Boy (my Parasol’s style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe) is served. Detractors can go nuts in the comments section if you like, this is a hot debate, but Parasol’s serves the kind that I like, Roast Beef that is just obliterated from long slow cooking in a rich gravy, smothered with mayonaise, some tomatoes, pickles and lettuce; dressed that is. And that bread! Light as can be, yet chewy, with a crust that is beyond imagine!

From Parasol's

Now the fun starts. This is also the messiest sandwich I have ever eaten, hats off. From my first bite I was awash in debris, mayo, gravy, up to my elbows. I actually ran out of napkins and had to clean myself by rolling around in a small patch of grass I found on Constance. I’m exaggerating of course, but you know what I mean, good sloppy eating in one of the most colorful little Irish bars I’ve ahd the pleasure of visiting.

Speaking of which, tomorrow being St Patrick’s Day, this is the place to be in the city, they annually host a block party that begins at 11:00 a.m. and runs all day long! Wish I was there! Here are some pics of the block party on their website.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!

Gaston from The New Orleans Creole and Cajun Cuisine Blog sent us this video which shows the owner of Parasol’s making their famous Roast Beef. They should have given the host a Po Boy to keep him from talking so much through the video, that clown annoys me. (**Update – Upon my second viewing of this video, I’ve concluded that this guy from the Food Network, is THE biggest stooge on TV! Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp, and even the elusive Curly Joe, have nothing on this guy.) Thanks for the link Gaston, and keep up the great blogging! Here is the video:

Related Posts:

Parasol’s Style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe
Roast Beef Po Boy with Debris Gravy Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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Cochon Butcher

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From Cochon Butcher

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas
New Orleans LA 70130
504-588-PORK

Upon entering Cochon Butcher, which is right around the corner from Cochon Restaurant and in the same building on Tchoupitoulis and Andrew Higgins, the first thing that I laid eyes on was their Andouille. Nicely laid out in the deli case, deep brown from hours of smoking, and as a true Andouille should be, huge as it’s stuffed into a beef middle casing.

From Cochon Butcher

The first thing that I thought of is that New Orleans locals, thanks to Chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, and Warren Stephens, will no longer have to make the commute out to Laplace, Louisiana (read my Jacob’s Andouille post) to get Andouille if they don’t want to, the real article is right in the city now, along with scores of other wonderful products. All of the sausages, salamis, Mortadella, confits, terrines, rillettes, pickles, Creole Mustard, EVERYTHING is made in house! This place is a Mecca for all things swine, even more so than Cochon Restaurant. Feel like making a Cassoulet? Hell, stop into Cochon Butcher, get your Duck Confit, fresh sausages, cured sausages, whatever you want to include, they will probably have it.

On a related but somewhat side note, I just read that Donald Link has a cookbook coming out next month called
Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana. I already preordered mine, needless to say, that should be a keeper. (Read my review HERE!)

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

I was greeted at the deli case by Chef partner Warren Stephens holding out a sample plate of the house made Bacon Praline, which, as my friend Tim at Roux-B-Doo’s says, is like sugary crack. Seriously, it is. This isn’t the Praline Bacon at Elizabeth’s, awesome in it’s own right, rather it’s an actual Praline with chunks of the house made Kurobuta Bacon inside of it in place of the traditional Pecans. Awesome flavors.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

After coming off of the rush of the Bacon Praline, I asked Chef Warren if it would be alright to take some pics around the store/sWine bar. He said sure and asked if I would like to go upstairs to see the curing room. I said hell yes, of course. He led me upstairs through the upstairs kitchen to the temperature controlled curing room, one of them actually, there is another one at Herbsaint, as well as the ones in the downstairs display cases.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

Inside of the upstairs room was a treasure trove of Salamis, blood sausages, you name it, in various states of cure.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

A new batch of Duck Pastrami was recently hung.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

Chef Warren told me that when the cured products reach their maturity, they are Vacuum sealed to stop the curing process, and also package for sale or storage.

From Cochon Butcher

While we were upstairs he also gave me a tour of Calcasieu the also newly opened catering facility for private events (I will do a separate post on Calcascieu).

The Sandwich board:

From Cochon Butcher

The Wine board:

From Cochon Butcher

We headed back downstairs so that I could order something for lunch, looking at all of that great food was killing me. I decided to order the Muffuletta, with all house made meats no less. Any loyal reader of my site knows that I would HAVE to order the Muffuletta on my first visit knowing that I am a Muffuletta junkie, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint.

From Cochon Butcher

Cochon Butcher’s Muffuletta has an olive salad that is very finally chopped which I didn’t know if I would care for, as I usually prefer the olives pretty much just crushed a la Central Grocery, but it actually was a perfect accent to the finely cured meats and the cheeses without being overpowering. The olive salad was on the top and bottom of the sandwich. The bread was also perfect, light and crumbly as it should be. The Muffuletta could easily feed 2, in some cases 4, and at $12, especially considering everything is made in house, it’s a steal.

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

While I was gorging myself on the above awesome Muffuletta, Chef Warren brought me over a Lagniappe to try out, his Tartiflette that he was featuring as a small plate item. It was a lovely pairing of fingerling Potatoes, housemade Kurobuta Bacon, sweet onions, and a touch of heat, baked in a Gratin with of course the wonderfully stinky Reblochon cheese. Phenomenal flavors; the smokiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the onion, tender gold and buttery fingerlings, woodsy Thyme, and the spice of the peppers all tied together with the Robust creamy flavor of the Reblochon. Awesome job.

From Cochon Butcher

I can’t thank Chef Warren Stephens enough for the gracious tour, I will always remember it!

I will let the pictures do the talking for all of the wonderful items Cochon Butcher has to offer!

From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher
From Cochon Butcher

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipe featured on this site!

Related Posts:

My new friend Su-Jit’s Post on her trip to Cochon Butcher
Cochon Restaurant
Central Gorcery
Andouille Sausage Recipe
Tasso Recipe

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Casamento’s Restaurant

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From New Orleans Restaurants

Casamento’s Restaurant
4330 Magazine St.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
504-895-9761

Well, I finally made it to Casamento’s. After several attempts over the last few years, for one reason or another, every time I’ve showed up to their door on Magazine Street with an empty stomach just moaning and groaning for Oysters, I would inevitably be met with a sign to crush my hopes and dreams for that meal period. CLOSED. Granted, it would have helped if I had checked their website or bothered to call, but honestly, I’m not that bright.

On the other hand though, sometimes New Orleans takes you where she wants to take you, or just gives you a nudge in the direction that you want to go. In my experience, this is not a town for itineraries, not if you want to do it right. Go with the wind, come back often, and eventually you will see everything that you want to see. Yesterday the wind finally took me to Casamento’s, and I have to say that it was well worth the wait. I now rank Casamento’s among the best places that I have eaten Oysters in the city, raw or cooked.

From
From New Orleans Restaurants

Casamento’s was opened in 1919 by Joseph Casamento an immigrant of Ustica, Italy, who decided to tile the whole restaurant for easy cleaning, the restaurant is often likened to an empty swimming pool. Here is a pic of the front of the restaurant section of the restaurant and Oyster bar (sorry for the blurry pic):

From New Orleans Restaurants

The floor tiles:

From New Orleans Restaurants

The back section of the restaurant where I had lunch (I wanted to sit near the kitchen):

From New Orleans Restaurants

CJ cooking in the kitchen, you can see the Pan Bread in the oven:

From New Orleans Restaurants

The restaurant has long been loved by locals and when Joseph Sr. died the restaurant was passed on to his son Joseph Casamento Jr. Sadly after years in the restaurant (which he lived above) Joseph Jr. passed away the night Hurricane Katrina hit. Here is a pic from one of my favorite books, the long out of print Time-Life book American Cooking: Creole and Acadian which shows both Joeseph Casamento Jr. and Sr. shucking Oysters for their hungry customers back in the seventies. (I didn’t know who to contact for permission for this pic, as the book is so long out of print. If the owner has any problem with me posting this image, email me and I will take it down immediately!)

From New Orleans Restaurants

The restaurant is now owned and run by Joseph Sr’s grandson, and Joseph Jr’s nephew CJ and his wife Linda Gerdes, he runs the kitchen and she runs the front, carrying on the traditions of the restaurant and fine cooking that locals and travelers have come to rely on from Casamento’s.

I started my lunch, with a half dozen on the half shell, beautifully shucked, plump, and delicious Louisiana Oysters. Casamento’s has ketchup, horseradish, and Louisiana hot sauce on the tables for mixing your own sauce.

From New Orleans Restaurants

Detail of one of my Oysters:

From New Orleans Restaurants

My favorite part of the meal, or my first favorite that is, is the Oyster Stew, simply done with the best Oysters, perfectly poached in the milky broth, succulent with onions, green onions, with a hint of celery and thyme, and glistening pearls of butter of floating on top of the stew as it arrives.

From New Orleans Restaurants

This is a simple soup, perfectly executed, one of the best things I have eaten in the city. By the way, I’m a Gourmand if you haven’t noticed, not a gourmet.

From New Orleans Restaurants

By the way, Cassamento’s Oyster Stew Recipe is contained in Kit Wohl’s book
New Orleans Classic Seafood, page 42. I ate a similar Oyster Stew at Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar in New York when I was a younger lad and didn’t really appreciate it’s simplicity, although Casamento’s version immediately reminded me of that day. I actually ate that Oyster Stew while sitting next to the now late Al Lewis a.k.a Grandpa Munster who was celebrating his birthday at his favorite restaurant. I remember quietly whispering to my friend in between slurps of soup, ‘is that Grandpa Munster??’ (quietly), as he slurped his Oyster stew and casually glanced over and nodded in affirmative, ‘M’hmm, THAT’s Grandpa Munster.’

Anyway, back to the meal at Casamento’s, last stop was the famous Oyster Loaf, perfectly fried Velvety Oysters served, not on the New Orleans French Bread, but rather on Casamento’s signature pan bread, thick slices of toasted bread which serves as a cradle for the perfectly fried Oysters. You can order it dressed or not. Casamento’s Oyster Loaf is dressed with Iceberg lettuce, tomato, and Mayonnaise, quartered sweet pickle on the side. I’m patting myself on the back for this picture, if you would like to do so also, please return my arm to it’s regular forward position to do so. 🙂

From New Orleans Restaurants

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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Chicken Fricassee Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

Well, Carnival is in full swing in New Orleans and I am in Detroit. Instead of beads, doubloons, or other trinkets, the Krewe of Mother Nature just threw us another helping of snow, and I have to say……This parade sucks.

Oh well, there is no reason that we can’t at least have some good food to remind us that winter does serve a purpose, at least in my kitchen; slow braised or stewed, stick to your ribs (and arteries) comfort food. Inexpensive cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken, whatever, slow cooked in a liquid or gravy of some kind until so tender that it practically melts off of the bone.

Tonight was Chicken Fricassee, Louisiana style with a roux, and the holy trinity. My roux here is a little lighter than some would prefer in some parts of Louisiana; I prefer a peanut butter colored roux for this dish. Also note that like a lot of my recipes I add the holy trinity in two stages, about 3/4 goes into the roux after it reaches the peanut butter stage, and the remainder goes in with the liquid. It is a layering of flavor and texture.

It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all of the flavor of the sauce, although I would just slightly under season with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit.

Chicken Fricassee Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

5-6 lbs Chicken Leg and Thigh Quarters

For browning the chicken:
1 Cup Flour seasoned with:
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
A few turns of Black Pepper
A healthy pinch of Cayenne

For the Fricassee:
1 Cup Home Rendered Lard, Bacon Drippings, Duck Fat or Vegetable Oil (if you must)
3/4 Cup Flour
2 Cups Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Cup Mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Quart Chicken Stock, preferably homemade
1 Bay Leaf
1 Bundle of Fresh Thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne to taste
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Hot sauce
1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate.

When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside.

Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.

When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled Thyme and Bay leaf and stir in the chopped Thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with Green Onions.

If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.

Serves 4.

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured on this site! Also be sure to check out the sister site to Nola Cuisine called American Gourmand!

From Nola Cuisine
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Praline Sweet Potato Recipe

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This is my play on Candied Yams for the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving Holiday. It’s kind of like Candied Yams on PCP, and could easily play as a side dish or a dessert on the holiday table. I gave this one a test run a few weeks back when I cooked the Turducken feast when trying out the Cajun Grocer Turducken.

Praline Sweet Potatoes Recipe

5 Large Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Pecan pieces, toasted until fragrant

For the sauce:

1/2 Cup Bourbon
1/4 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 tsp Kosher Salt
A few turns of freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Pecan pieces, toasted until fragrant

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the Sweet Potatoes in their Jackets until fork tender, about 45 minutes to one hour. Peel while still warm and let cool. When cool slice into 1/2″ rounds.
Layer the sweet potatoes in a large buttered casserole dish. One layer of sweet potatoes, then sprinkle with some of the pecans, another layer of sweet potatoes, then pecans, etc… until the sweet potatoes are all used up, top with the remaining Pecans.

To make the sauce:

Warm the Bourbon in a saucepan over medium heat and ignite to burn off most of the alcohol. When the flames subside add the water, brown sugar, cane syrup, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and sesame oil. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium low and whisk in the butter, until all is incorporated and melted. Pour over the sweet potatoes in the prepared casserole.

Bake in the 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

Thanksgiving Related Posts:

Turducken
Oyster Dressing Recipe
Turkey Bone Gumbo Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured here on Nola Cuisine!

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