Tag Archives: jamie shannon

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

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!

Crawfish Boil Recipe

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

Pepper Jelly Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

Pepper Jelly, while not an ingredient specific to New Orleans is a staple of the South, including Louisiana. You can probably find a jar of Hot Pepper Jelly in your local grocery store, probably a green or red Jalapeno version, made with food coloring.

The most interesting Pepper Jellies to me are the fancier versions that have been created by some Chefs and home cooks in New Orleans and across the South that have been woven in with other wonderful local flavors to create some fabulous new dishes.

The crown jewel of these dishes, in my humble opinion, is Shrimp and Tasso Henican created by the late Chef Jamie Shannon of Commander’s Palace. Louisiana Shrimp larded with Tasso, sauteed and coated with Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc served on his 5 Pepper Jelly with pickled Okra. Seriously folks, this is one of the greatest dishes I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Here is the Commander’s Palace Recipe, and a pic of my recreation of the dish at home.

From Nola Cuisine

A few other dishes in New Orleans restaurants that include Pepper Jelly are Cochon‘s Fried Chicken Livers on Pepper Jelly Toast (read my Cochon Post), and Bayona‘s Smoked Duck “PB&J” with Cashew Butter, Pepper Jelly, and Apple Celery Salad.

I love making a batch of Pepper Jelly to keep around the house because it is such a diverse ingredient. Recently I served it to some guests at a dinner party as a dipping sauce with Spring Rolls.

Recipe Notes:
To Brunoise (very fine dice) the peppers, trim the ends of the peppers and cut the peppers so that you have a relatively flat piece. Lay the pepper flat on the cutting board, press the knife horizontally on the pepper and cut away the ribs and whiter parts of the pepper, pressing down the pepper to the board as you cut, until you have a brightly colored piece of pepper about 1/8″ thick. Now cut into brunoise.

Save all of the trim from the red and yellow peppers, discard the green trim.

Here is the recipe:

Pepper Jelly Recipe

1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into brunoise, discard trim
1 Red Bell Pepper, brunoise, trim reserved
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, brunoise, trim reserved
2 Jalapeno, seeded with ribs removed, brunoise
1 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Fresh Bay Leaf
1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
6 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Liquid Crab Boil
1 Package Liquid Pectin (optional)
Sterilized glass Jelly Jars with lids.

Cut all of the fresh peppers into brunoise and combine.
Combine the trim from the red and yellow peppers with the vinegars in a small saucepan, bring to almost a boil and turn of the heat. Let the pepper trim steep in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Puree the peppers and vinegar mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
Add the strained vinegar back to the saucepan with the sugar, Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the black pepper, crushed red pepper, crab boil, and the bay leaf. Simmer until reduced by about 1/3.

In the meantime, in a stainless steal saute pan over medium heat, sweat the peppers until very dry, stirring constantly, do not allow to brown. Set aside.

When the sugar and vinegar mixture is reduced remove from the heat. Remove the bay leaf and add the brunoise peppers and the liquid Pectin to the mixture. stir well.

Place in the sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2 inch of room and put the lids on snugly.

Process in a hot water bath with enough water to cover the jars for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature. When cool, check to make sure that the jars created a seal, and tighten the screw lids. Store in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening.

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

Bread Pudding Recipe

If you’re ever in the neighborhood of Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, you can almost follow your nose to the front door by the aroma of bread pudding which wafts across the neighborhood. I always picture a looney tunes character, closing their eyes, nose to the air, flapping their hands and floating along the scent trail to the source. I always think of that when I make this recipe and my kitchen smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Bread Pudding is a combination of two things that I hold dear, great cooking spawned from frugality, and comfort food. What is more comforting than a plate of warm bread pudding covered in spiked and sweet Whiskey sauce?

I based this recipe loosely on the Commander’s Palace recipe from one of my absolute favorite books Commander’s Kitchen by Jamie Shannon and Ti Adelaide Martin, by one of my absolute favorite restaurants. I will also be featuring the Commander’s style Bread Pudding Souffle in the next few days, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best desserts around. Anywhere.

The recipe:

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce Recipe

For the Bread Pudding:

1 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Freshly grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Cups French Bread, cut inot 1 inch cubes (be sure it’s a light bread, meaning not too dense)
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Butter a square cake pan with the butter.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large Mixing bowl whisk the eggs, add the sugar mixture, then whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the bread cubes being sure to not break them up too much. The trick to this recipe is to make sure all of the bread soaks up the custard, and that you don’t overcook it.

Place the prepared mixture into the cake pan, cover with foil and place the cake pan into a larger pan, sufficient enough to allow for a water bath which will cover the smaller pan by half way.

Place the pans into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove the foil and raise the temperature to 300 degrees for 1 hour more or until the top of the pudding is golden brown.

The finished pudding should be slightly firm, while moist, but not runny.

Serve warm with Whiskey sauce, recipe below.

Makes 4 servings.

Whiskey Sauce Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
a few drop of Vanilla extract
1/3 Cup Bourbon
1/3 Cup Sugar

Mix together the water and cornstarch. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. While boiling slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry, when the sauce is thickened remove from the heat and add the vanilla, bourbon and sugar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Be sure to visit my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! It provides a link to all recipes featured on Nola Cuisine.