What is Cajun ingenuity?

inkognitoJune 15, 2010

There seem to be some of us who have been handed everything on a plate and others who have had to struggle against the odds. The Cajun mongrels were put on a boat and pushed off into the tide heading.. away from us. And yet there is a style particular in the music that has come from these people who have something of us all in them that we secretly admire. Could it be that these resilient people and their ingenuity carry the real dream?

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nancyanne_2010(Z 8 / WA)


    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 9:01PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Nancy, have you ever met the Cajun people? Talked to, ate with, worked with, rode in a boat in the Atchafalaya with?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 9:22PM
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ink, I really spent some time thinking about your question. I'm a transplant, but I was married to a cajun and assimilated into his large family, and still have a connection through my two oldest children. Most people in the coastal area's of Louisiana consider themselves cajuns, simply because they embrace the culture and lifestyle. They work hard, play hard, and are deeply religious. Most continue to live where they were born and raised. Family is very important, as well as friendships which may have begun in grade school and lasted a lifetime. When hurricanes hit and they return to nothing, it's not in their nature to look around and say, "where is the government?". They just roll up their sleeves and get busy putting their lives back together, and helping their neighbors and family do the same. If they meet a roadblock, they find a way around it, they don't wait for someone to show them the way. I found this blog, some people who spent a couple of weeks down here and wrote about it from their perspective.

Here is a link that might be useful: cajuns

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 5:16AM
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Oh - fantastic link mrskjun! And looks to be accurate.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 5:50AM
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mrskjun, what a great article! I know they have made a fantastic contribution to American cuisine and I admire their distinctive culture and music.

Sounds like the 2nd poster on this thread needs to read the poignant history of the Acadian people....

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 11:14AM
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I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans before Katrina struck... we have friends living within the city and up in Covington.

We spent two wonderful weeks exploring the city and surrounding areas, and we found quite a bit to like. It's not just the wonderful food or the very interesting music... it's the people.

I have always disliked city living... but I could easily set down roots in New Orleans.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 11:42AM
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The disaster in the gulf is even more poignant when you think about the "all good from the sea" foods they create.

They created Jambalaya and the holy trinity.
Food for the soul, love it!
Recipe time/lunch time and I'm hungry!

I have a few versions, mix a few versions.
Here's one from Emeril, Cajun Jambalaya:

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 ounces chicken, diced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper
In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well. In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 12:17PM
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I love the Cajuns, they are unique and their sense of humor can't be beat - and the food? OMG, wonderful. Except for etouffee, I just can't do etouffee. But gumbo? I make simple chicken and sausage gumbo several times during the winter but once a year I make a big pot of seafood gumbo and invite a friends to share.

For those who can't stand the smell when making roux (hand raised high - can't STAND it), make up a big batch and freeze it in the proportions you are most likely to use in your future recipes. I cook slowly, stirring constantly for 45 minutes to an hour, but the results are worth it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 1:51PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Mylab, I don't waste my time making roux anymore. It's too convenient to grab a jar of Savoie's.

You don't like any etouffee? Have you ever made your own?

Crawfish Etouffee

1/4 cup butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, chopped

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
14-15 ounces chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1 pound cooked, peeled crawfish tails

Hot cooked rice (I use Popcorn rice.)

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 4 ingredients; saut5 minutes or until tender. Add flour, salt, and red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until caramel colored (about 10 minutes). Add next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Stir in crawfish; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Savoie's

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 3:20PM
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I an attest to Natal's recipe! Too die for! That and her LA BBQ shrimp....oh my!

Cajun's are LA's gain and Canada's loss.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 3:42PM
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I'm sure for etouffee lovers yours is wonderful but I just don't care for it, don't really know why though! I have made my own after trying some again in a N.O. restaurant when we lived there and still just didn't like it, so my BIL told me I should make my own since it really is so beloved (he gave me his recipe)so I did - but no, just didn't like it! This recipe sounds so familiar, his must have been very similar to your own recipe.

I'm living practically on the other side of the country now and there are no wonderful jars of roux to be had here - oh but if there were I'd do a lot more southern style cooking. I just really do hate the smell of roux while it's cooking. I might try cooking it outdoors on a gas camping grill next time, it takes all day to air the house out - but I don't know if I can get the heat low enough on it, I'll have to try it.

There are days when I'd kill for a good shrimp po-boy or a pressed roast beef sandwich!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 4:06PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Cajun's are LA's gain and Canada's loss.

I think you're right! ;)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 4:57PM
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Hmmm, I just treated myself to one of the best shrimp poboys I've ever had last week! I could only eat half, though.

I have a quick and easy recipe for etouffe:

Sautee chopped celery, onion and bell pepper in a stick of butter. Add cayenne pepper and garlic powder, or Tony Chacere's Seasoning and 1 heaping T of flour. Stir over medium heat until thickened as in preparing a roux (about 2 minutes).

Add one can of V-8 Vegetable Juice and one can of diced tomatoes and stir. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add peeled and deveined shrimp and cook a few minutes until the shrimp are done. Add lemon juice and serve over rice, garnish with parsley.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 5:06PM
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rilie(Z5 Eastern Canada)

Natal, would you share the BBQ shrimp recipe? thx!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 9:31PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Happy to.

Louisiana BBQ Shrimp

1 2 lbs. large shrimp
1 stick butter, melted
3 tablespoons Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil

Dehead shrimp if necessary, but don't peel. Place in a shallow dish (I use a pie pan). Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over shrimp. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 2-3 hours.

Bake in preheated 350° oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Serve with French bread to sop up all the wonderful juice.

NOTES: Sometimes I add whole mushrooms before marinating.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 9:52PM
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I've got to print this recipe out, it is making my mouth water! It wouldn't hurt to serve with long grain white rice would it? This would make for an amazing "company" recipe, especially around here - my friends love to try different things.

Thanks Natal, I've really enjoyed this thread.

If you have any other favorite recipes cajun style (or otherwise) I'm sure nobody would complain if you post them along with a pic - because oh - YUM!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 11:57PM
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When a person doesn't live near a coast, obtaining really fresh shrimp with which to make these wonderful dishes is very nearly an impossibility... frozen and thawed shrimp are not quite the same.

The best oysters I've ever had came from the Gulf. We stopped in at a lovely little oyster bar and ate our share of the cheapest oysters on the half shell with homemade horseradish cocktail sauce and crackers that I've ever had... washed down with Voodoo Dark. $5 a baker's dozen... shucked right there in front of you...

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 8:17AM
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1 1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, head on (preferred for more fat and flavor) and rinsed.

1/2 to 1 stick butter
about two to three tablespoons italian dressing
couple of squirts of mustard - or more to your liking.
Salt and red pepper

Melt butter and mix with other ingredients in oven-appropriate baking dish.
Add shrimp.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until shrimp are pink - don't overbake! Shouldn't take more than six minutes, if I remember correctly.

This is SO MUCH BETTER than glancing at the recipe would indicate.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 9:40AM
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rilie(Z5 Eastern Canada)

Thank you Natal. Hubby and I visitied NO in April, and I had BBQ shrimp in a restaurant. I'd read lots about them while doing restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor, etc., and was anxious to try them. Hubby wasn't a fan but I certianly was. I have a good friend who I'm sure would love them too, so I'm going to make them for her with your recipe. Thanks again. :) BTW - NO, and the all the rest I saw of your state while touring around, was absolutly beautiful and unique - we combined our visit with a cruise down through the Gulf - it's been our favorite vacation to date. Loved NO and will certainly go back. My heart goes out to you and MrsKjun and all the many, many others affected but the current disaster. The pictures just take my breath away.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 10:36AM
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The French speaking Cajuns were exiled from Canada because they refused to denounce their Catholic religion and would not swear allegiance to the King of England. In defiance, they left for Louisiana. When they arrived, they WERE NOT welcomed by the French speaking Creole people in New Orleans and had to settle in the virgin frontier areas of the state........the marshes, prairies, and swamplands that existed at that time. They learned how to cope with their new environment and struggled to make a living in these isolated areas. They overcame great odds and developed a very vibrant culture. Their cooking style is so unique that it evolved into its own category. It is known and appreciated around the world. In recent years the ingenuity of Cajun cooks has given us the Blackening technique, deep fried Turkeys, and the Cajun microwave for roasting whole hogs.

The Higgins boats, which were so successful for US troop landings during WWII, are a good example of Cajun ingenuity. These boats were built in New Orleans and utilized the shallow water boat technology that was developed by the Cajuns in South Louisiana. Cajuns had to learn how to survive in the swamps and marshlands. Along the way they became excellent boat builders. They pioneered shallow water boats. The Cajun designed Higgins boats is what made the D-day landings of WWII possible. This same shallow water navigation technology is what allowed the Petroleum Industry to develop the vast oil and gas reserves in the offshore marshlands of Louisiana and Texas. Google "gator tail" and will see some videos on how the modern day Cajuns navigate the shallow water marshes of Louisiana......new technology that was developed through Cajun ingenuity. Few people would believe it possible to navigate through such obstacles. Watch the videos on the "gator tail" website and you will be simply amazed at what these belt drive motors can do.

Our "wannabe Cajun" governor.....Bobby Jindal is one of the few politicians displaying any REAL LEADERSHIP on this oil spill crisis. What we are getting from the President and Washington is absolutely pathetic.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 3:43PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Mylab, ok, a few more.

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

6 boneless thighs
Salt, pepper, and cayenne

Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped green bell peppers

1 cup chopped celery

Half a bottle of dark roux

about 8 cups chicken stock, heated
1/2 pound andouille, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
Hot cooked rice
green onions, sliced

Remove excess fat from the chicken pieces. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne in paper bag. Toss in thighs and shake to coat.

In a large cast iron skillet heat about 1/2 inch of oil until very hot (375° to 400°). Fry the chicken pieces until crust is brown on both sides, about 6-8 minutes per side; drain on paper towels. Let oil cool, then remove from skillet, leaving as many of the browned particles in the pan as possible.

In a medium-size bowl combine the onions, bell peppers and celery.

Place the stock in a 5 1/2-quart stock pot or large Dutch oven and let simmer while you cook the veggies.

Add roux to skillet over low heat and stir while it melts down. Then add veggies and cook till soft, stirring constantly. Takes about 10 minutes or so.

Bring stock to a slow boil, then add the roux mixture by spoonfuls, stirring until dissolved between additions. Add the garlic and sausage and let simmer for 40 minutes.

While gumbo is simmering remove meat from chicken in bite size pieces. Last 5 minutes add chicken.

Serve over rice and top with green onions.


Blackened Tuna

fresh tuna cut into 1 inch thick steaks
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Paul Prudhommes Blackened Redfish Magic
1 teaspoon Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cut tuna into steaks. Place in shallow dish.

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat; add olive oil and seasonings. Stir well. Pour over tuna. Flip tuna after covering with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat a cast iron skillet for approximately 10 minutes till smoking hot. (This can be done outdoors over a propane burner or indoors with adequate ventilation.) When pan is hot, add tuna and marinade. Cook, turning once, a total of 1 3/4 - 2 minutes for rare, 3 minutes for medium-well done.


Crawfish-stuffed Portobellos

4 -6 large portobello mushrooms

3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
2- 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound crawfish tails

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
2 Tablespooons minced parsley
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Creole mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
hot sauce to taste (optional)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375°. In a sauté pan melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and bell peppers. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add garlic last 30 seconds. Stir in crawfish and continue to sauté 5 minutes. Then set aside and allow crawfish mixture to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, egg, parsley, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, Creole mustard, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Blend well then stir in crawfish mixture. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs and mix well. Set the stuffing mixture aside.

Mushroom prep:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Scrape the underside of each mushroom with a spoon to remove the black gills. Brush each mushroom inside and out with olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Fill each with equal amounts of crawfish stuffing.

Top stuffing with Parmesan cheese and paprika. Place on cookie sheet and bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until heated through.

~adapted from Chef John Folse

Ready for the oven:

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 8:36PM
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All these photos of crawfish are making me hungry. That etouffee looks divine.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 9:13PM
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What is that bottle of Molson doing there. It should be replaced immediately with a bottle of Abita Turbodog!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 9:17PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Dh is from Boston. He loves Molson! But he does drink Abita Amber when it's on tap.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 9:42PM
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incognito, the culinary offerings are certainly mouth-watering but to return to the original question.
I am singularily incompetent to say what the answer is but I have seen two examples of initiative/ingenuity. (I have a difficulty differentiating the two.)
One is the Louisiana Governor pleading to construct a dam against the oil incursion. The Dutch built such a dam (out of clay/mud, mind you) against the Atlantic in the land of my birth. They planted mangrove trees to hold it and to this day, sections of this "sea-dam" exist... and the most productive area of Guyana continues to be habitable because of variations (concrete & steel) on their original theme.
I clapped my hands when I saw a barge with two tankers aboard, apparently skimming oil.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 5:45AM
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If you build a dam wouldn't it cause other problems because of the way the Mississippi flows and deposits its silt?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 8:42AM
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That fish looks kinda rare... as in raw. Fish carry a lot of parasites... I'd never eat any fish, poultry, or pork that wasn't fully cooked... but that's me.

Oysters and beef are the only things I ever eat not fully cooked... and I'm picky about those things and their origins...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 10:57AM
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Wonderful thread! I'm a bit confused about what "Roux" is. (I thought it was a white sauce, but one recipe calls for a "dark Roux)?

There was talk after Katrina hit NO to consult the experts on reclaiming land from water, e.g. the Dutch, with their ingenious system of dikes. I wonder if anything was ever done in that direction?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 12:49PM
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1 cup flour
1 cup oil

...in a cast iron pot. Constantly stir over medium heat (gas is way faster and produces a better roux than electric heat) until brown--light brown, or dark brown, depending on the type of roux you want.

I like mine dark--which means stirring until just the seconds before the roux burns--after practicing you learn the texture, the gloss, and the amount of smoke, and even the smell, when it's just right. I can produce a dark roux on my gas burner in about 25 minutes; when I used an electric burner it was closer to 40 minutes.

Roux gives the gumbo or whatever dish you are making that rich taste.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 12:58PM
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If you've never seen a roux before, get a regular Hershey's chocolate bar and aim for that color. You could go a little darker, but there's a fine line between dark and burnt! Personally, I prefer the slightly lighter color.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 3:48PM
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1 cup flour
1 cup oil "

Does it matter what kind of oil?

I would personally be inclined to use peanut oil, unless someone recommended not to.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 4:38AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Peanut or canola would be my choice. I made a dark roux once. When Demi said "stirring until just the second before the roux burns" she wasn't kidding. A second too long and it ends up in the trash. That's why I use bottled roux. ;)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 11:45AM
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LOL natal, it's sort of a sport with me, like testing how close you can ride your tricycle to the edge of the porch when you're a kid!

Peanut oil has a higher burning point, so my time recommendations are based on canola oil, which is what I use.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 11:48AM
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Then if I follow your time recommendation but use peanut oil I will probably be safe...


    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 2:29AM
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Yes, you are less likely to burn a dark roux with peanut oil anyway--if dark specks develop within the roux, it's burned and no good.

I'm just used to my canola oil because I know how it develops and how long it takes.

Remember, when you add your Holy Trinity (celery, onion and bell pepper) to the roux, stand back because it generates a lot of steam towards your face--and stir like crazy before adding the broth.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 8:37AM
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This old Cajun cook ALWAYS uses plain ole corn oil for making a roux. However, both peanut and canola oil work just fine. Many years ago, lard was the only oil that was readily availble to the Cajuns.

It quite easy, fast, and nearly foolproof to make an excellent tasting true Cajun type roux in a microwave oven......FAST is the keyword in this technique. Too, a fat free version can be made by browning all purpose flour in a heavy pan in an oven without using any oil whatsoever. In South Louisiana jars of light, medium, and dark roux made in the traditional way with oil are readily available at the supermarkets. This product will last a very long time if kept in the refrigerator. (Refrigeration helps keep the oil that is in the roux from going rancid.) Likewise, packages and jars of light, medium, and dark oven-made (fat-free) dry powder roux are readily available too.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 2:05PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Jerzeegirl, thought of you when I read about this. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: SOS Abita

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 12:33PM
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I have a gas cooktop and still I will stand there stirring for about 45 minutes or even longer - I do it on very, very low heat and get it to look just like a hershey bar - but I can't stand the smell.

If it burns, it's nasty so if you see those little black flecks, throw it away.

Doesn't anybody ever use salt free butter when making roux anymore? That is all I've ever used, it was how I was taught to make roux by my grandmother.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 2:29PM
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No, but I'll have to try it.

I'll bet the flavor is more rich.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 2:30PM
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Here's a little something to listen to, as you salivate over those recipes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Eddie LeJuene, DL Menard, & Ken Smith

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 3:40PM
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"It quite easy, fast, and nearly foolproof to make an excellent tasting true Cajun type roux in a microwave oven......FAST is the keyword in this technique."

Dan, can you provide exact times and amounts, or do you just nuke a few moments at a time and then stir?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Microwave Cajun Roux Recipe:

2/3 cup corn oil
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cups onion -- chopped
1 cup celery -- chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper -- chopped
4 cloves garlic -- minced
1/4 cup parsley -- chopped
1/4 cup green onion tops -- chopped
1/4 cup hot water (approx)

Mix oil and flour together in a 4 cup GLASS measuring cup. Microwave uncovered on high (100%) 6-7 minutes. Stir at 6 minutes - roux will be a light brown at this time and will need to cook only 30 seconds to 1 minute longer to reach the dark brown color so important in making Louisiana gumbos and stews. The roux is now ready to be used or stored for later use.

Note: The seasoning vegetables can be immediately added to the roux and partially cooked using the microwave as follows: The Roux inside of the measuring cup will be very hot, but usually the handle on your measuring cup will stay cool enough to touch. Add onion, celery and bell pepper to Roux in measuring cup. Stir and return to microwave. Saute on high (100%) 3 minutes. Add garlic, parsley and green onion to Roux, stir and return to microwave. Saute on high (100%) 2 minutes. You should have about 3 3/4 cups of Roux now. If any oil has risen to the top, pour this off. Slowly add enough hot tap water to bring Roux to the 4-cup mark. Stir and you will have a smooth dark Roux with vegetables in only 12 minutes total time. This roux/vegetable mixture is ready for use or can be stored (frozen) for later use.

To the roux/vegetable mixture add the meats or seafoods that are called for in the particular recipe. Finish cooking the dish on the stove as directed by your recipe. Additional water will need to be added to get the right consistency for stews and gumbos.

Roux freezes very well (at least 6 months) and you are ready at any time to put together a delicious gumbo or stew. Recipe mostly from "Voila!" - Jr League of Lafayette, LA.


PS......I never use Butter or Margarine to prepare a Cajun roux, mainly because it is too easy to burn. There is nothing worst tasting than a burnt roux. The above microwave procedure is real fast and almost foolproof. Give it a try......

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 12:05AM
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What would happen if you used olive oil instead?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 12:02PM
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Pure olive oil (the type used for frying) works just fine. I wouldn't use extra virgin olive oil (the type used for salads) because of its lower smoke point and much stronger flavor.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 12:30PM
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We are having guests for supper tomorrow night so I decided upon chicken/sausage gumbo - simple meal served over long grain white rice with just a cold, crisp salad and some hot, crusty french bread on the side with homemade sorbet for dessert. The heat has landed here and it's just too hot for much more than that - those at the table can eat as lightly or more heavily as they wish.

I'm not adding shrimp, it's only a chicken and sausage gumbo. One of my guest is allergic to shell fish, but I've had it without shrimp before and it's delicious.

I decided to give Dan's nuking recipe for the roux a try and make it up today so it can sit in the fridge until tomorrow evening - and it worked very well, I'm very impressed - thanks Dan, I will probably make it this way from now on.

One thing I would do differently though - that stuff foams up to the point where if there was the tiniest bit higher nuking power (and microwaves do fluctuate in this) then it would have overflowed. It foams up and then collapses - I think a big bubble forms under it all and when it reaches the top, it all goes down again, but I don't know this for a fact.

I was holding my breath because I was POSITIVE it was going to overflow and make a huge mess in my microwave, but it actually never did. However - there was a layer of it on the very rim of my measuring cup - no kidding, it got that close.

Next time I think I will use my trusty 8 cup measuring cup. That way I won't have to worry at all.

I've noticed in Natal's recipe for gumbo that it contains no okra! I'm surprised, I've never seen a recipe for it that contains no okra - which is just the grossest stuff ever grown, so it's certainly no loss to me. I never use it, it's just GROSS. To me. ;)

Also, does anyone ever use a can of diced tomatoes in their gumbo? I really like it with a can of that added, I use the type that has herbs added, I think basil and oregano - but it's certainly not necessary to the dish.

Thanks Dan, it really was so much easier than standing there and stirring. It didn't stink nearly as badly either. I wonder if it's because I use butter (unsalted) and cook it on an incredibly low heat (my gas cooktop as a burner for just this purpose) and it's the butter mixed with flour that maybe tended to stink. This really didn't at all. If I do make roux on the cooktop again, I think I'll stick to vegetable oil.

Another note: I had to nuke the roux about three minutes total more than Dan's recipe calls for to get it dark enough. I'm not sure why, I've got a fairly new, high power microwave. For those new to roux, you have to watch this stuff like a hawk especially when using the microwave just a few seconds can ruin it. Better to have it a tad bit on the light side than to have to throw it all away. There is no way to save burnt roux - black flecks and it's trash time.

Also, it continues to cook just a bit even off the heat (cooktop or microwave) so you should allow for that also.

Wonderful thread, thanks everyone for their input! And thanks Dan, this is a method I find really works well.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 12:29PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Interesting about nuking. More than likely if I tried it it WOULD overflow, lol. I'm sticking with the jar of Savoie's.

The Creole version of gumbo has tomatoes. I'm not a fan of okra. Have never cooked with it, but I am growing some of the burgundy variety in the garden right now. I heard the flowers were gorgeous, so when I pulled the tomato plants I seeded a little okra in one spot. I may try roasting the okra ... I've heard that makes a world of difference. We'll see.

I'm so ready for gumbo weather, but that's many months away.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 12:50PM
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In Cajun country, before okra is added to a gumbo, it is first cooked until it loses ALL of its slime. (I hate slimy gumbo.) This is done by smothering sliced okra (you can add diced onions at this time too) in a bit of oil (just enough to coat the vegs) in the oven, stove top, or microwave (fastest). I like to cook it until the okra is falling apart and beginning to brown a bit. I like to cook mine until it shrinks and looks almost dry. It will rehydrate beautifully when later added to the gumbo......this makes all the difference in the world for both texture, and flavor!!


    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 2:51AM
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