Tag Archives: cajun cuisine

Live Louisiana Crawfish from Cajun Grocer

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!

Soft-Shell Crabs

I purchased some Soft-Shell Crabs today which I will prepare for dinner tonight, and of course feature as a recipe later tonight or early tomorrow. I only buy soft-shells fresh when they’re in season, I don’t believe in frozen soft-shells personally, it leaves me something to look forward to in the spring.

Soft-Shell Crabs are not a different species of crab as some may believe but simply a Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus, which has molted. Like many other crustaceans, crabs outgrow their shells and grow new ones. The prime soft-shells are called busters, as they have just busted from their shells and are at peak softness. Not long after the crabs have busted from their shells, the new shells will start to form and have more of a leathery texture.

Soft-shells can be fried, sauteed, broiled, grilled, you name it. Later I will share one of my favorite ways to prepare and serve them, I’m really looking forward to it.

Soft-shell crabs should not be cleaned until shortly before you’re ready to cook them as they will spoil faster.

To clean a Soft-Shell Crab cut off the eyes and nose portion of the front of the crab with kitchen shears. Next, lift the corners of the top shell and remove the inedible gills. Lastly, turn the crab over and remove the Apron which is a soft way of saying the genitals. Sorry, but it is what it is…just remove it. :-)

Your soft-shells are now ready to be cooked, and so are mine…until later today.

Update – Here is my recipe for Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Creole Choron Sauce.

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

Natchitoches Meat Pies Recipe

From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)

These tasty turnovers, along with the Festival of Lights, are native to Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-uh-dish), Louisiana and are traditionally served on Christmas Eve. They’re usually made bigger, more of a hand pie, but I like them as an Hors d’oeurve for holiday parties. I served these tonight with a Creole Mustard Aioli for dipping. The recipe:

Natchitoches Meat Pies Recipe

For the Filling

2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Pork
1/2 Cup Spanish Onion, finely diced
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
1/4 Cup Celery, finely diced
1/2 Cup Green Onions
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Crystal Hot Sauce
Kosher salt, black pepper, and Cayenne to taste.
1/2 Cup Beef Stock
1/8 Cup All Purpose Flour

Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat, when hot add the ground meats, cook until browned and cooked through. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and green onions, cook until the vegetables are wilted. Add the garlic, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and seasonings, cook for 2 minutes more. Make a slurry of the stock and flour, add to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

For the dough:

4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Iodized Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Lard
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk

Combine the dry ingredients in the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, with the speed on low add the lard to the dry ingredients and let the mixer cut it in until the fat is broken up into pea sized pieces. Beat the egg and combine with the milk. Add the wet to the dry with the mixer on low, in a slow steady stream. Mix until the dough just comes together. The key is to not overwork the dough.
Cut the dough in half then roll it out to 1/8 inch thickness on a floured counter. Cut into either the more traditional 5 inch circles or as I did about 3 circles, I used an empty French Market Coffee can.

To assemble and cook:

Place 1 heaping Tablespoon (doubled for the larger size) of the cooled mixture to each circle. With your finger wet the edge with a little water, fold over and crimp with a fork. Set aside on a floured surface until ready to fry.

Heat 4 inches of oil in a dutch oven to 360 degrees. Fry the meat pies in small batches until golden brown on each side.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes!

Andouille Sausage Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

I started making my own Andouille a few years back because the stuff they sell in the grocery stores here in Michigan is a joke, you may as well break open a package of Oscar Meyer hot dogs for your Gumbo.
You know the kind I mean, basically Alpo, stuffed into a casing and injected with liquid smoke. I can’t use that garbage, so I make my own. Andouille is a cornerstone to many great New Orleans & Louisiana dishes, so you really need a good one! I would rather use a good quality Kielbasa, than a cut rate Andouille. The better the Andouille, the better the dish! Luckily, I enjoy making sausage, it is a very worth while investment of time if your finished product turns out well. Here is how I go about it.

I used a nice fatty, 5# boston butt, trimmed of tough connective tissue. Fat is good for sausage, especially Andouille. You want about 75% lean/25% fat. Here I hand chopped half of the meat into 1/4 inch pieces for texture, and ground the rest. The recipe:

Andouille Sausage Recipe

5# Pork (I prefer a Boston Butt) Trimmed of tough connective tissue and cut into 2 inch cubes.

Combine the following in a bowl:
2 tsp of Cayenne or to taste (Remember, if you make it too hot, every dish you make with it will be too hot! Start off with a little, you can add more after you taste the finished seasoning)
1 Tbsp Paprika
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Garlic
1/8 Cup Fresh Ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 healthy pinch Cure #1 (1 tsp. of “cure” per 5# of meat)
1/2 Cup Ice Water

Toss this mixture with the meat, making sure it is well coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

**Note – Prague Powder#1 is used for wet curing meats, to retain color and freshness. It is a ratio of 16 oz. salt to 1 ounce sodium nitrate.

Chop half of the meat into 1/4 inch pieces and grind the other half with a coarse grinding plate. Mix the two together with:

1/8 Cup Non-Fat Powdered Milk (this is a binder)

Stuff the sausage into prepared Hog Casings (Beef middle casings if you can find them). Here is my method of Linking Sausage.

Tie each sausage link with kitchen string to make a loop for hanging. Hang uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. This step is to let the casings dry out to allow smoke absorption, very important.

I smoked this in an inexpensive upright barrel smoker, with charcoal as the heat source, and unsoaked Pecan chips for the smoke. The sausage was hung beneath the top rack, no water pan.

I smoked this at 130º F for 2 hours, then increased the heat to 165º F for another 2 1/2 hours, refreshing the wood chips as needed. The trick here, is to get as much smoke flavor into the sausage before it is actually cooked through, and too hot of a temperature will render the fat out of your sausage. I controlled the temp by the number of coals, and keeping them piled up and pushed to one side. When you spread your coals out the temperature will increase. I added more coals to reach the 165º F mark.

The internal temperature of the sausage should read 155º F on an instant read thermometer. Remove at this point and immediately spray with cold water. Hang at room temperature in front of a fan for 1 hour then refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

Portion and store in vacuum sealed packages in the freezer.

Other recipes for Sausages and Seasoning Meats at Nola Cuisine:

Here is my Latest Batch of Andouille Sausage!

Chaurice Sausage Recipe
Cornbread and Andouille Sausage Recipe
Tasso Recipe
Pickled Pork Recipe

My post about my visit to Jacob’s Andouille.

Check out Egullet’s, Eating Louisiana Andouille page, with pics from Wayne Jacob’s, and Jacob’s Andouille, in the Andouille capital, Laplace, Louisiana.

Homemade Tasso Recipe

Tasso (TAH-so) is a smoked seasoning meat used to flavor dishes like Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice. Tasso used to be made from the trim after an Acadian Hog Boucherie, thin strips, heavily seasoned, dried, then smoked for hours. These days however, most of the Tasso that is available is a little more fancy, more of a ham than the style of the old days, mine is somewhere in between. I always find it amazing how ingredients and recipes, that basically came from scrap and the poorest times evolve into Gourmet, I love it. Tasso will keep in the freezer and is pretty easy to make, but you have to do a little planning.
A few Tips:
After seasoning it, I recommend keeping it in the fridge, at least 3 days to let it cure, look at how nice and pink the center is.
Take it easy on the Cayenne when making your seasoning blend, start off with a small amount, then add to your taste, the amount here is moderate. It should have some heat, but I don’t like losing control of the heat in a dish I’m cooking because my Tasso was too hot, so I cut it back a little, for the same reason that you don’t salt stocks.
Here is my recipe for Tasso. I used a Boneless Pork Roast cut into about 4-5 inch long, 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. This is seasoning for about 5 lbs of pork:

Homemade Tasso Recipe

5 lbs Pork cut as described above
Seasoning:

3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cayenne or To Taste (see above)
4 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp White Pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Mix the seasoning together well. Rub the seasoning into the meat, you want a lot on there, call it 1/8 inch, use it all. Place on a plate or tray, cover and refrigerate 3 days.

Before smoking put the Tasso on an elevated rack so that air can circulate around it, then put a fan on it for about 2 hours to dry it out. I also don’t use a water pan when smoking Tasso, this is something that I actually want to dry out during the smoking process.

I hot smoked this batch in an inexpensive upright barrel smoker using charcoal as the heat source (heated with a chimney starter, no lighter fluid or matchlight coals please.) I used Pecan chips that were soaked in water for 1 hour for the smoke.
I smoked this a total of about 4 hours, the first 2 hours at about 150-160 degrees F. The second two hours at 180-190 degrees F.
The object is to get as much smoke into the meat, before cooking it all the way through. I brought the internal temperature of the meat to 150 degrees F in the last 2 hours of smoking.
When finished I again put the Tasso in front of a fan for about 1 hour. Refrigerate. When completely cold portion and store the Tasso in vacuum sealed packages. Freeze.

Makes 5 lbs of Tasso

Related Links:

Andouille Sausage Recipe
Chaurice Sausage Recipe
Pickle Meat Recipe
More on Tasso:
Check out these Pics at Egullet of Wayne Jacob’s beautiful Tasso and Andouille, made the old way in LaPlace, Louisiana.