We’re still in full celebration mode for the release of Ellen’s Cajun Country debut novel, PLANTATION SHUDDERS. And what better way to celebrate than to share our favorite dishes from Louisiana’s legendary cuisine?
You’d think it would be hard to choose one favorite Cajun/creole dish, considering all the fantastic options. But hands-down, my favorite dish is jambalaya. Afficionados may argue over brown or red jambalaya – brown being roux-based, red being tomato – but I love it all. You want the easiest, no-fail recipe this dish? Here you go:
Take a box of Zatarain’s jambalaya rice and cook it according to the instructions on the box. Throw in a cup each of chopped chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage, and mix it all together.
That’s it. As they say in Luzianne, talk about good!
As I mentioned, I’ve never been to Louisiana—but I already have my food plans in the works for my first trip. Top of the list: Fried chicken. Since I’m not a seafood gal, I will be eating beaucoup poultry. But I’m also looking forward to the famous beignets—those fluffy little doughnut things—and pralines (see Kellye’s post below), preferably washed down with NOLA’s famed chicory coffee. And, even better, a side of dark chocolate. (I had to look up “chicory,” which I thought was some kind of lettuce. Technically, it is a blue-flowered Mediterranean plant from the daisy family. Yum.) Anyway, Laura Fuentes offers a great, super-easy recipe for Café au Lait, based on the kind served by New Orleans’ famed Café du Monde, here. Don’t forget to include that side square of chocolate! And don’t worry, if you don’t have any chicory, you can use a coffee blend that already has the ground-up-daisy stuff in it. Can you tell I worked (very briefly) at Starbucks? Didn’t think so.
My favorite Cajun dish? Whichever one is sitting in front of me! I’ll confess, it’s hard for me to take sides, especially when it comes to food. My philosophy when ordering is, “You get this and I’ll get that, and we’ll throw in a side of that other thing and then we’ll share.” I can, however, tell you my favorite Cajun meal: When I lived in Austin, there was a place called Catfish Station that served fried catfish with jambalaya, red beans and rice, and hush puppies on the side—meaning I didn’t have to choose! I used to go there for lunch with my co-workers, then we’d come back to the office and be in a food coma for the rest of the afternoon. Aaaaand, now I’m hungry.
Anytime you ask me my favorite food, I’m going for something sweet. So my favorite dish has to be pralines. According to Wikipedia: pralines are a form of confectionery containing at a minimum nuts and sugar.
According to me: pralines are a form of crack. It always starts the same. “I’ll just have a bite,” I tell myself. Next thing you know, I’m throwing pralines in my mouth like layups at a basketball camp. You’d think I’d learn that no matter what I tell myself, there is simply no way I’m eating just one. But I’ve mastered the art of lying to myself. (I’m also utterly convinced that the only reason I don’t get mistaken for Beyonce is because I don’t own a blonde lace-front wig.)
I don’t have a recipe for pralines, but let me know if you do…so I can invite myself over.