In This Menu:
- Chicken Gumbo
- James’ Shrimp Creole
- Banana Pudding Cake
I, like most people, love Cajun food. My only trip to New Orleans really opened my eyes to the complexities of Cajun cooking as well as the myriad of subtle differences from other similar cuisines. My dad and I made the shrimp Creole, one of our favorite dishes, a million times which was inspired originally by a recipe called “Major Hollander’s Shrimp Creole”. I no longer know what cookbook it came out of or who Major Hollander was. I have recreated the dish from memory and I doubt it is exactly the same, but it certainly is tasty! The main thing I remembered about the original recipe is that it called for the zest and juice of one whole lemon. The lemon zest gives this version the signature taste I have come to love.
I want to thank Chef William Mauk from New Orleans for first making me true Gumbo and showing me how to make the best, dark, roux. I hope you like it. AAAIIIIEEEEEE!!!
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 large chicken (young hen preferred), cut into pieces
- 1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, cut into ½” pieces
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
- Filé powder to taste
- ½ bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown thoroughly on both sides. Make sure that the fat is cooked out of the skin on the chicken and that it is crispy. Remove chicken to baking dish and place in oven at 350° for 30 minutes. While chicken is cooking, brown the sausage then remove from pan and set aside. Pour all excess fat but 2 tablespoons from skillet into a small, heavy bottomed, saucepan. Set skillet aside.
Add the flour to the oil, blending with a whisk. Cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux is almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you’re nervous about burning it.
Add the vegetables to skillet and cook over medium heat, scraping bottom of skillet as vegetables cook to get all of the brown bits of flavor off pan. Remove chicken, let cool, and cut the meat off of the chicken into ½ inch pieces. Add the chicken along with the sausage to the pan.
Add the stock, seasonings, and parsley to pan. Bring to a boil, add the roux, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.
Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. Top with chopped green onions. Accompany with a good beer and lots of hot, crispy French bread.
YIELD: About 12 appetizer-sized servings.
James’ Shrimp Creole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced green bell peppers
- ½ cup diced onions (reserve ends and skins)
- ½ cup diced celery (reserve ends, hearts, leaves)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning*
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 oz. shrimp stock
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ pounds peeled and deveined shrimp (reserve shells)
- Green onions, for garnish
*Available in our spice aisle
Place shrimp shells and reserved vegetable peelings on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400° oven until light brown. Place shells and veggies in a medium sauce pan, add 2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 4 cups of water to pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour stock into another saucepan through a fine, metal strainer. Place stock back on high heat, bring to a boil and continue to boil until the stock is reduced by 2/3.
In fry pan, heat olive oil. Add peppers, onions and celery and garlic. Cook until softened. Add Cajun spice and sauté until caramelized. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, shrimp stock, hot sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, and white sugar.
Cook for 3 hours. Add shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes. Serve over rice. Top with chopped green onions.
Banana Pudding Cake
I decided to do an easy dessert for you since cooking in this heat can be tiring! I created this recipe very recently and originally did it with a homemade custard and cake from scratch. I don’t think that using the pre-made mixes will hurt the integrity of the dish much. If you would rather use from scratch products, feel free!
- 3 bananas
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 box vanilla pudding mix
- Whipped cream
- Mint for garnish
Slice bananas into ¼ inch slices. Prepare cake per package directions. Bake, let cool, and cut into pieces. Prepare pudding according to package directions and set aside. In several large ramekins or wine glasses layer the dessert in this order:
- Whipped Cream
The last and top layer should be whipped cream with banana slices around edge. Top with mint for garnish. Chill and serve.