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Potato soup is friendly and familiar—just like that old high-school BFF that visits once a year. The recipe has become a comfortable (and predictable) interpretation of a thick and creamy bowl of pulverized potatoes loaded up with cheese. And yes, I love it as much as you do. But with my Potato and Brussels Soup recipe, I set out to make friends with a potato-based soup with a fresh approach.

Chunks of potato and Brussels sprouts combine in this broth-based soup. (All photos credit: George Graham)

No stick blender-pulverized, creamy, cheesy, chowder-like soup here. Let’s break this recipe down:  the smokiness of bacon, the herb-infused notes of thyme and rosemary, a pungent punch of Cajun spice, the freshness of Brussels, and it’s all combined with the comforting familiarity of tender potatoes. What’s not to like?

In this soup, the potatoes remain in chunks and the Brussels take on a unique flavor that compliments the bold ingredients. Be sure to save the petals (leaves) that fall off the sprouts when slicing them. When added back to the soup at the end, the bright green leaves wilt in the hot stock for a distinct finish. And the crispy bacon garnish just seals the deal for me.

Give this Potato and Brussels Soup a try and cozy up to your new best friend.

Potato and Brussels Soup
 
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
70 mins
Total time
1 hour 40 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 4 strips smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Cut the woody end off the Brussels sprouts and cut lengthwise in half. Reserve the green leaves that fall off the sprouts for later use.
  3. In a large pot with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, add the bacon and sauté until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon and add the Brussels sprouts (do not add the loose leaves), and cook until they are browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté just until the onions turn translucent and add the thyme, rosemary, garlic, white pepper, onion powder, and Cajun seasoning. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken stock and the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the potatoes and the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. Add the reserved sprout leaves to the soup and let simmer until the leaves have wilted but are still green, about 15 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and paper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the crispy bacon pieces.
Notes
I like regular russet baking potatoes for this, but you can use the smaller Yukon Gold or new potatoes if you like.
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Comfort in a bowl!

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this cooking story and recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick, painless, and FREE.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new cooking stories and recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

The post Potato and Brussels Soup appeared first on Acadiana Table.

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A simple sandwich just hits the spot. But one thing that’s not simple is making a choice among all my favorites. If you’ve been a part of my Acadiana Table for some time, you no doubt understand my pursuit of the perfect sandwich—so many sandwiches, so little time. So here’s a list of my Top 10 Favorite Sandwiches (in no particular order) and links to my recipes for how to make them.

Roast Beef at R&O’s

For me, a sloppy, gravy-drenched roast beef po’boy is the definitive statement of what this famous South Louisiana sandwich is all about. And let me say it loud and clear: R & O’s roast beef is po’boy perfection. Crispy, crunchy French bread dipped in rich brown gravy hugging a generous mound of roast beef dressed with shredded lettuce and ripe tomatoes and just a slather of Blue Plate is po’boy nirvana and a sensory overload for a Louisiana boy with childhood memories.  Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Oyster Loaf at Cassamento’s

Lightly breaded and flash-fried, these oysters reach that perfect balance of crispy golden brown but not overcooked.  Then they are sandwiched between two buttered, toasted slices of thick pullman loaf sandwich bread slathered with a generous amount of Blue Plate mayonnaise and topped with a slice of ripe tomato.  With a few shakes of hot sauce and an ice-cold glass of Dixie beer, the Casamento’s oyster loaf is a one-of-a-kind sandwich experience.  Get my step-by-step recipe here:

The Melted Muffuletta at Napoleon House

While the Mecca of the muffuletta is Central Grocery in New Orleans, I prefer another version of the classic Italian sandwich. It is the hot, melted muffuletta at Napoleon House in the French Quarter that I crave.  Crispy Italian bread blanketed with an herb-spiked olive salad, piled high with classic deli meats and a crown of melting cheese (it’s okay to salivate) is perfection indeed.  Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Pork Jowl BLT

Pork jowl is simply the fat, cheeky mound of flesh taken from each side of a pig’s head.  When sliced thin into bacon-type strips, it becomes a superior stand-in for bacon.  And in this recipe, pork jowl, when peppered and paired with fried green tomatoes, makes an especially tasty elevated version of a BLT sandwich.  It’s an all-natural use of farm-to-table ingredients celebrating Southern culture and the importance of the whole hog as a food source. Indulge.  You deserve it.  Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Short Rib at Joan’s on Third

This combination comes from a little joint called Joan’s on Third, a bakery/café in West Hollywood, California. By now, you should be familiar with my culinary infatuation with beef short ribs. And with this shredded beef sandwich, I have now crossed over to obsession. It’s a simple little sandwich: Short ribs are wine-infused, cooked fork tender, and piled onto crusty sourdough, and then griddled to a crisp finish oozing with melted pepper jack cheese ‑- this is sandwich perfection.  Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Chic Steak at the Acme Café

Pork is the answer to a sandwich version of a chicken-fried steak. Cutting ¾-inch-thick slices of the lower-priced pork loin and running them twice through a tenderizing machine creates a magnificent sandwich cut — tender, tasty, and huge. With a dredge of flour and simple seasonings, the pork fries up to golden brown crispy perfection.  Just a slather of mayo, pickle slices, and all dressed on a sesame bun, the Chic Steak Sandwich is a big hit.  Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Beer-Braised Smoked Sausage Po-Boy with Griddled Vidalia Onions

Smoked sausage is a familiar food item throughout Acadiana, and not a festival goes on without a booth serving up a sausage po’boy. It doesn’t get any simpler and don’t look for me to complicate it…much. First, the basics: My bread is classic – a soft po’boy bun from Evangeline Maid Bread in Lafayette. And my smoked pork links are from the smokehouse of Kermit Lejeune’s sausage-making operation in Eunice, Louisiana in St. Landry Parish. Nothing complicated so far. Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Wagyu Beef Slider on Brioche with Jalapeño Pimento Cheese

Presented ceremoniously on a brioche bun, my Wagyu Beef Slider on Brioche with Jalapeño Pimento Cheese combines the best of hybrid Japanese beef with the down-home comfort of pimento cheese–a contrast of rich new flavors with more familiar tastes. Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Heirloom Tomato Sandwich on Sourdough with Garlic Aioli

With the crisp snap of the first bite of grilled sourdough, I can taste the dual combination of smooth goat cheese, and creamy garlic aioli as the intense juice of the heirloom tomato flows over my tongue. My taste receptors are in overdrive as the flavors meld together into my Heirloom Tomato Sandwich on Sourdough with Garlic Aioli–the perfect sandwich bite. Get my step-by-step recipe here:

Cajun Cuban Sandwich

With the crunchy snap of your first bite into my Cajun Cuban Sandwich, you just know this one is special. With the unmistakable punch of Creole mustard and the ooze of melted pepper jack blending with all the traditional ingredients in this multi-cultural version of the famous sandwich, this recipe will up your kitchen cred for sure. Get my step-by-step recipe here:

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this story and recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick and painless.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new stories and recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

The post Top 10 Favorite Sandwiches and How To Make Them appeared first on Acadiana Table.

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This weekend, when I saw the flashing sign announcing “BOILED CRABS” in big, bold letters outside Randol’s restaurant, I knew that things were heating up in South Louisiana, and I’m not talking about the weather. Propane burners and stovetop boiling pots are firing up as crab season ushers in on the tail end of crawfish season. It’s just the natural order of things and reason enough to fall in love with the Cajun food culture.

A bucket of blues. (Photo credit: George Graham)

Fat blue crabs (they turn red when boiled) are salty and sweet when boiled to perfection. A backyard crab boil is always a sign of summer in Louisiana, and firing up the propane burners is the call to friends and neighbors that a party is underway. Boiling fresh blues in a spicy cauldron of seasoned water is not just for home cooks, but many Acadiana restaurants specialize in the dish as well.

Frank Randol outside his Cajun restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Ed Lallo)

There’s only one place in Acadiana that I’ll eat boiled Louisiana blue crabs — Frank’s place.  With his friendly smile and infectious laugh, my good friend Frank Randol rules the dining room of Randol’s Restaurant and Dancehall. He is a smart, talented entrepreneur with a knack for finding opportunity. He built his restaurant from the shell of a landscaping nursery into a world-class tourism destination. It is not uncommon to see busloads of French and German tourists dancing alongside neighborhood locals. Frank was one of the first to tap the potential of cultural and culinary tourism by marrying the two together.

Randols, Lafayette, Louisiana....Real Cajun music, food, dancing and people.... - YouTube

The French-speaking culture of Acadiana has a rich tradition of music, with Cajun two-steps, waltzes and African-influenced zydeco music. Over the past 50 years this unique musical mish-mash has created “swamp pop”, a funky rhythm & blues music heard throughout Acadiana’s music clubs and dancehalls. Like Randol’s, many of these concert halls are also restaurants that pack in the tourists and locals alike. Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons are host to hoards of dancers–adults and kids–crowding the corn meal-covered dance floors to sashay to live Cajun music.

Frank cranks up the live music seven nights a week and cranks out a terrific menu of Cajun and Creole classics. But, it’s the boiled crabs that keeps folks coming back. Frank is one of the largest crab processors in Louisiana shipping fresh-picked lump crabmeat to restaurants in Chicago and other markets. His operation focuses on Vermilion Bay blue point crabs that are plentiful once the bay waters heat up.

Louisiana blue crabs turn bright red when boiled.  (Photo credit: George Graham)

I urge you to make a trek to Randol’s and try his boiled-to-perfection Louisiana blue crabs, but if you can’t, then instead of singin’ the blues, just follow this recipe. But, you’ll have to provide your own music.

A Cajun crab boil is as easy as well, boiling water. Don’t overcomplicate this; it’s just seasoned water and the freshest live blue crabs available. Be sure to have a really big pot, long-handled tongs (for handling the live crabs), gloves, and pliers or shell cracking implements to dismantle your cooked crabs. Oh, and ice down your favorite beer; it’s a party, after all.

Big blues going into the pot. (Photo credit: George Graham)

Boiled Louisiana Blue Crabs
 
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
45 mins
Total time
1 hour 15 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup liquid crab boil seasoning
  • 3 (3-ounce) bags dry crab boil seasoning spice or 3 cups dried Cajun seasoning spice
  • 6 lemons, halved
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes (about a dozen)
  • 12 ears frozen corn on the cob, shucked and cut into thirds
  • 6 medium yellow onions, halved
  • 2 dozen live blue crabs
Instructions
  1. In a large, tall stockpot with basket insert, fill halfway with water, 2 to 3 gallons, and bring to a boil. Add the crab boil seasoning along with the lemons, potatoes, corn, and onions, and continue boiling until the potatoes become tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the crabs and cook on a rolling boil for 5 minutes; turn off the heat. Let everything soak in the seasoned water for another 20 minutes or so, and then remove and serve family-style on a newspaper-covered table.
Notes
Here in Louisiana, crab boil spice bags, bulk dried boiling spice, or liquid crab boil are readily available; feel free to mix up your own spice combination by using your favorite Cajun seasoning or order the commercial seasoning options online here. Rather than fresh, I like the taste and texture of frozen corn on the cob when boiled; I believe it soaks up the flavor better. Go figure. Feel free to add whatever you like to the pot (sausage links, etc.), but don’t crowd the pot before you add the crabs. Some like to dunk their crabmeat into drawn butter (a bit highbrow for me), cocktail sauce (too overwhelming for me), or without any sauce whatsoever (oh yeah, the natural sweetness shines through). Some folks add a bag of crushed ice to the boiling water, but I don’t; I save my ice for chilling a glass of bourbon to celebrate the occasion.
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YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick and painless.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

The post Boiled Crabs at Randol’s Dancehall appeared first on Acadiana Table.

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Ice-cold shrimp and chilled lump crabmeat need nothing more than a tasty dressing or two to complete a casual springtime meal. And my recipe for Chilled Seafood Salad with Two Dressings keeps it simple and light—two ingredients for an easy dinner.

Gulf shrimp and crabmeat take center stage in this classic salad combination. (All photos credit: George Graham)

Anytime Roxanne and I visit Biloxi, Mississippi, we make a beeline to our favorite old-school eatery, Mary Mahoney’s. When I say old-school, I mean it with the utmost respect for this historic restaurant that is as relevant today as it was when it opened in 1962.

On Hwy 90 in Biloxi, Mary Mahoney’s is a culinary trip back in time.

Housed in the Old French House circa 1737, I love the feel of this place: the warren of passages, the exposed Creole brick walls, the white-tablecloth attention to detail, and the tuxedoed waiters scurrying to fill glasses of sweet tea. It is a return to a genteel, Southern sensibility; it is a dining aesthetic that has been lost to the hurried pace of our chain-ravaged culinary landscape.

House in the Old French House, the restaurant is an aged beauty.

And their famous George Salad still delivers. This is not your edgy, chef-driven, artistically plated salade maison of pretentiously small portions. No, this is simplicity on a plate—piled high and reasonably priced. Gulf shrimp and white lump crabmeat are accented by a minimum of garnish. And the two dressings—a spicy rémoulade and a red wine vinaigrette—bring it all together.

When in Biloxi, make a stop at Mary Mahoney’s, and in the meantime, make my version of this salad. It will become a favorite.

Chilled Seafood Salad with Two Dressings
 
Prep time
40 mins
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
1 hour
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Red Wine Vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more if needed)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rémoulade
  • 3 cups mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Seafood Salad
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 tablespoons liquid shrimp boil
  • 2 pounds small, raw peeled Gulf shrimp
  • 1 pound jumbo lump, Gulf blue crabmeat
  • 2 cups spring mix lettuce greens
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, stems removed
  • 2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1 cup pitted olives
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 cup canned baby corn
  • Old Bay seasoning
Instructions
Red Wine Vinaigrette
  1. In a mixing bowl, add the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk the mixture while slowly drizzling the olive oil. When the emulsion is complete, add salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Rémoulade
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise. Whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, seasoning blend, paprika, lemon juice, horseradish, and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.

Seafood Salad
  1. In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil and add the shrimp boil seasoning. Add the raw shrimp and cook until they turn pink and are done, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain. Cover and chill.
  2. Place the crabmeat into a mixing bowl and gently pick through and discard any shell pieces. Cover and chill.
  3. In a large salad bowl, combine the spring mix, spinach, iceberg lettuce, and cherry tomatoes.
  4. On individual chilled plates, place a generous serving of the salad mixture. Mound a 4-ounce serving of lump crabmeat and a pile of boiled shrimp to either side of the salad mixture. Place hard-boiled egg, olives, lemon wedges, and canned baby corn around the salad. Lightly sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning.
  5. Remove the dressings from the refrigerator and pour individual portions in small cups or ramekins.
Notes
This is my recipe for Mary Mahoney’s version, but get creative and feel free to use any fresh Gulf seafood you can find for your version. This dish is all about short prep time and light summer dining, so keep it casual. A crisp, cold Pinot Grigio would pair perfectly with this dish.
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A cold glass of white wine is the perfect pairing for this classic seafood salad.

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this Southern cooking story and recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick, painless, and FREE.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Southern cooking stories and recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

The post Chilled Seafood Salad with Two Dressings appeared first on Acadiana Table.

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You might approach your first spoonful of this Carrot Ginger Soup with a bit of culinary doubt, but trust me. When the flavors explode on your tongue, you’ll be back for a second, third, fourth, well, you get the message. And you’ll be getting compliments galore from family and friends.

Sweet and spicy, a tasty combination. (All photos credit: George Graham)

And I call it 24-Carrot Puréed Gold. Well, maybe not twenty-four, but two pounds, for sure. This easy Carrot Ginger Soup sets the gold standard for taste, and with the combination of carrot and ginger as the base, you’re in for a wealth of bold flavor.

Shortcuts abound in this tasty soup. First, I don’t peel the carrots; the peel has flavor and nutrition and will purée along with everything else. Next, instead of peeling and chopping ginger, I use the squeezable pureed ginger that I keep in my fridge. I use it often and am hard-pressed to tell the difference. Finally, if you don’t already own a stick blender, buy one immediately. The ease and convenience of “plug and pulverize” as well as the simple clean up are worth the minimal investment.

I get an Asian vibe here; I guess the ginger hints at a familiar Thai flavor profile, but the combination is much more than that. With its sweet and spicy notes, my Carrot Ginger Soup delivers a unique taste explosion.

24-Carrot Puréed Gold: Carrot Ginger Soup
 
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
47 mins
Total time
1 hour 17 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Cut the ends off the carrots and cut in 1-inch pieces. If applicable, reserve some of the leaves from the stems for later use as garnish.
  2. In a large pot with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, and white pepper. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock along with the carrots and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the carrots are tender, about 40 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), pulverize the carrots until puréed with no lumps. Season with salt to taste.
  5. Ladle into bowls and add a sprinkle of grated lemon zest. Garnish with a carrot leaf, if applicable.
Notes
Don't leave out the lemon zest; it finishes the dish with a bright flavor boost. I substitute the squeezable ginger paste and get delicious results. Don't get heavy handed with the spice, but rather, let the flavor of the carrot and ginger shine.
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A taste explosion!

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this cooking story and recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick, painless, and FREE.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new cooking stories and recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

The post 24-Carrot Puréed Gold: Carrot Ginger Soup appeared first on Acadiana Table.

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For Cinco de Mayo, South of the border meets South Louisiana in this Pulled Pork Tacos with Creole Crema–a taco taste sensation. I love how the citrus flavors of the orange-brined pork shoulder are elevated by the spike of jalapeños and Cajun seasoning that work so deliciously with farm-fresh vegetables. And the cool and creamy horseradish and lime-infused Creole Crema tops it all off.

My Pulled Pork Tacos are just as easy as they are tasty. (All photos credit: George Graham)

Backyard get-togethers don’t always have to be exhausting, dragging out the barbecue pit and slaving over a blazing fire. Sometimes outdoor entertaining can be cooked indoors. That’s what I had in mind with my Pulled Pork Tacos recipe.

With just a little pre-planning, this recipe is a cinch. Brined in a salty orange juice bath and slow-roasted to fall-apart tender, a 4-pound pork shoulder is delicious cooked in a conventional oven. With precise heat control in a tightly covered vessel, the roast maintains moisture for perfect pull-apart pork just begging for a tortilla.

Festive and fun, dinner becomes a party with my Pulled Pork Tacos.

This recipe is all about contrasts. The crisp vegetable garnishes provide a crunch factor that plays against the crema, and the citrusy flavors of orange, lime and pineapple cut the richness of the pork. All wrapped up in a neat little package, all you need is a top-shelf margarita, and you’re set for a backyard bash. No sweat!

Don’t forget the margaritas–the perfect accompaniment for these Pulled Pork Tacos.

Pulled Pork Tacos with Creole Crema
 
Prep time
1 hour
Cook time
3 hours
Total time
4 hours
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 6
Ingredients
Pork
  • 1 quart orange juice (with pulp), plus 2 cups
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1 (4-pound) pork shoulder (Boston butt) roast, bone-in
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crema
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Creole mustard or grainy brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Tacos
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 12 flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple salsa
  • 4 jalapeños, sliced
  • 4 sweet mini-peppers, sliced
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
Instructions
Pork
  1. In a large container with a lid, pour in 1 quart of orange juice and salt, and stir to combine. Add the pork along with 2 cups of ice. If needed, add water to cover the meat. Cover the container and let refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Remove the pork roast and pat dry.
  2. Preheat your oven to 300ºF.
  3. Rub the roast with oil and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, add the roast. Brown on all sides including the fat cap. Add the onions and bell pepper and continue to cook until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and cilantro to the pot. Add another 2 cups of orange juice to deglaze the pot. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the roast fat-side-up on top of the vegetables; cover and roast for 2 hours. Uncover and roast for 1 hour longer until the fat cap browns, and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 170ºF, or until fork tender. Remove the pork roast from the pot and place on a platter to rest covered with foil. Reserve the cooking liquid for later use.

Crema
  1. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients and whisk until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tacos
  1. Move the pork to a cutting board and shred. Place the pork in a mixing bowl and moisten with 1 cup of cooking liquid from the pot along with the lime juice. In each plate, add 2 tortillas along with a portion of pulled pork. Garnish with red onion, cilantro, and salsa. Add a drizzle (I use a squeeze bottle) of the Creole Crema on top. Serve with sliced jalapeño, sweet peppers, sliced avocado, cheese, and lime wedges on the side, along with more of the crema.
Notes
Cooking time does not include brining. I prefer flour tortillas, but you might want to go with the corn tortillas. I have a reliable supermarket source for fresh refrigerated pineapple salsa, but you may opt to make your own. Either way, use fresh ingredients; no jarred salsa here. And if you want to make your salsa from scratch, check out my Tropical Salsa recipe here.
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Cool and spicy, these Pulled Pork Tacos have a contrast in taste and texture.

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick, painless, and FREE.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

The post Pulled Pork Tacos with Creole Crema appeared first on Acadiana Table.

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Louisiana’s crawfish season is in full swing, and no doubt, folks are coming to town to belly up to a table full of boiled crawfish for the first time. My daughter Lauren’s friend Gunner from Los Angeles recently visited us, and he couldn’t wait to taste his first boiled crawfish. I gave him a list of my 6 Things to Know Before You Go, and he dove into a 5-pound order like a champ. An hour later he came up for air with a smile on his face. Yep, a new convert to the gospel of Cajun crawfish. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of my “rules” for eating boiled crawfish.

For some, tackling a platter of steaming hot boiled crawfish is unfamiliar territory; follow my rules!  (All photos credit: George Graham)

This is a recipe for success. Instead of giving you detailed Cajun recipe instructions for boiling crawfish (there are hundreds of them online), I’m giving you the essential first-timer rules for eating boiled crawfish.  A more apt name for my story is “How to Eat Boiled Crawfish Without Looking Like a Tourist,” and while my tutorial is sure to provoke controversy or at least stoke commentary, I believe the “art of the boil” is long overdue for discussion.

As far as local culinary traditions go, eating boiled crawfish in the springtime is a Cajun/Creole seasonal social outing that is second nature to anyone raised on the bayou. But I have lots of out-of-towners that are anxious to eat boiled crawfish for the very first time. And they all want to know in advance what the “rules of engagement” are for this mysterious culinary ritual. How to dress?  How to prepare?  How to keep from making a fool of yourself?  These are good questions, and if you follow these six simple rules you will look, act, and peel like a local, not a yokel.

6 Things to Know Before You Go

1-    Dress Appropriately.

No fancy schmancy Charleston seersucker, socialite, dressy duds.  Dress down, not up.  Jeans are perfectly fine. Don’t wear a white shirt – darker the better, and short sleeves are recommended.  By the way, you may be offered a  bib (yes, some waiters can recognize a newbie from across the room) and feel free to use it as many experienced locals do.  Although I’ve seen 300-pound oilfield roustabouts wearing bibs (usually with a picture of a lobster on it), I find it unnecessary.  It’s a personal thing.  Besides, that’s why I’m wearing the dark shirt.  And for goodness’ sake, take out your contact lenses and wear your glasses, the spice on your hands will linger no matter how many times you wash them.

2-    Beer in Hand.

No wine.  No sweet tea.  No mojito-rita-tini frappe.  Just an ice-cold bottle of beer.  Or two.  And if you’re a teetotaler, opt for water, which you will need anyway.

3-    The Order of Things.

If at a backyard crawfish boil, the standing position along a long table covered with newspaper is the usual method.  If eating crawfish for the first time in a restaurant, sit.  Order the five-pound tray (trust me, you’ll want it all).  Order it seasoned “mild,” — remember, you are a first-timer; don’t go kamikaze on me.  “Mild” is boiled in seasoned water and is plenty hot to most neophytes, and I’ve seen a lot of brutes buckle under the pressure of a “spicy hot” mound of mudbugs.  Anyway, you can always sprinkle on a little Cajun seasoning at the table.  Ask for another beer.

4-    The Add-Ons.

Stick with tradition.  Get the corn and potatoes, and especially the onions (they are not like any onions you’ve ever eaten – spicy, yet sweet).  Pass on the trendy mushrooms, artichokes, sausage links, and any other add-on du jour taking up room in the boiling pot (and your stomach).  Sauce is optional, but if you’re a “dunker,” make your own dipping sauce–ketchup, mayo, horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and hot sauce–in any varying intensity that strikes your fancy.  Order another beer.

5-    The Steaming Hot Tray.

With a mountain of screaming hot, just-out-of-the-pot boiled crawfish sitting right in front of you, you are now in uncharted waters.  As you take a whiff and your sinuses open up, it’s time to wipe the fog from your glasses and survey the massive mound of steaming mudbugs in front of you.   Your first primal instinct is fear of the unknown.  Don’t panic.  Don’t run.  Resist any inner urge to scream for help.  Roll up your sleeves and take a long drink of ice-cold beer.

Don’t even think about asking someone to peel your crawfish for you.  The bayou rule is “you’ve got to peel your crawfish bayou self.”  Look around the restaurant, and you’ll even see five-year-old kids peeling their own; it is a Cajun rite of passage.

Survey your tray of crawfish; it’s okay if the sizes vary, but they should all look uniform in color (red) with curled tails.  Old-school locals swear that a straight-tail crawfish is dead before it is cooked, but that is debatable.  I always listen to experience and suggest removing and discarding them anyway.

Inspect your crawfish for color, clarity, and curling of the tail.

Tackle the tray head-on.  Align your sauce bowl to one side and your shell basket to the other.  Take the first crawfish with the tail in your left hand and the head in your right.  Break off the head and in one motion bring it to your waiting mouth and squeeze.  Sucking the head juices spiked with crawfish fat and spicy seasoning is a ceremonial entry into the Cajun world.  With that one act of legitimacy, you have now removed any trace of being a tourist and have firmly established yourself as a crawfish-eating local.

Next, you have several tail-peeling options.  First up is the impressively skillful, one-handed bite-pull-and-pinch technique that you will see many seasoned Cajuns use.  Even I haven’t mastered this one, so let’s move on to more manageable methods for getting the tail meat out of the shell.  My wife subscribes to the two-thumbs technique of splitting open the tail down the middle and lifting out the meat.  I am more methodical:  Hold the tail in your right hand and with your left hand, peel the first and second rings of shell from the tail while squeezing the bottom of the tail with the thumb of your right hand.  This pinching action will free the tail-meat.  Take a quick look at it and remove any black vein (similar to a shrimp) along the back of the tail.  You can now dunk it into your bowl of dipping sauce and devour.  Take a swig of beer and repeat about 50 more times.

Watch the repetitive action of others around you and find your rhythm – your peeling pace. And have fun; it’s a party. As crawfish juices run down your arms (you should have worn short sleeves) and your tongue tingles from the peppery heat, you will be overcome with a sense of joy and understanding of how delightfully delicious this culturally significant culinary ritual is.  And you will feel victorious in your accomplishment.

Congratulations.  You are now a bona fide, head-suckin’, tail pinchin’, boiled crawfish expert.

6-   After the Boil.

You will inevitably have a mound of leftover crawfish (that’s why you ordered five pounds).  While sipping your beer, invite everyone to continue peeling until you have a big pile of tail meat.  This is for the crawfish étouffée you will be making the next day, and I can assure you this Cajun recipe will be the best smothered crawfish over rice you’ve ever tasted.  I even like to bag up all the discarded heads and shells to make a flavorful crawfish stock.  Simply wash off the excess spice and add them to a stockpot filled halfway with water.  Simmer for two hours and strain off the rich stock.  The essence of fat and flavor from the crawfish are perfect for any seafood gumbo, bisque, or étouffée.

And once you’ve finished peeling, clean your hands like a local by crumbling a couple of saltine crackers (they are most always on the table) between your hands.  Squeeze a lemon in your palms and wipe your hands with a fresh napkin.

And one more thing: I want to hear from you.  What did I miss?  Please comment on this story and let us all know your take on eating boiled crawfish with any “dos and don’ts” that will add to the discussion.

And finally, here’s my Cajun recipe for Classic Crawfish Étouffée.

Simmered down in a rich, buttery mixture of spice and aromatics, my classic Cajun recipe for crawfish étouffée showcases deep Cajun flavors.

5.0 from 7 reviews
Classic Crawfish Étouffée
 
Prep time
45 mins
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
1 hour 5 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds Louisiana crawfish tail meat
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup crawfish stock or seafood stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup diced green onion tops
  • 4 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onions, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté until tender and add the garlic. Lower the heat to simmer and stir to combine. Season the mixture with cayenne and add the crawfish tail meat stirring to combine.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to incorporate and begin cooking the flour. Add some of the stock and continuing stirring until it begins to thicken. Add more stock until you get a stew-like thickness.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve over a mound of white rice garnished with chopped parsley and green onion tops.
Notes
It is best to peel your own, but packaged tail meat is a huge time saver and works just fine. If you use the packaged, be sure to add a little water to the fat inside the bag to get all the flavor out.
3.5.3217

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick and painless.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

 

 

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Louisiana’s crawfish season is in full swing, and no doubt, folks are coming to town to belly up to a table full of boiled crawfish for the first time. My daughter Lauren’s friend Gunner from Los Angeles recently visited us, and he couldn’t wait to taste his first boiled crawfish. I gave him a list of my 6 Things to Know Before You Go, and he dove into a 5-pound order like a champ. An hour later he came up for air with a smile on his face. Yep, a new convert to the gospel of Cajun crawfish. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of my “rules” for eating boiled crawfish.

For some, tackling a platter of steaming hot boiled crawfish is unfamiliar territory; follow my rules!  (All photos credit: George Graham)

This is a recipe for success. Instead of giving you detailed Cajun recipe instructions for boiling crawfish (there are hundreds of them online), I’m giving you the essential first-timer rules for eating boiled crawfish.  A more apt name for my story is “How to Eat Boiled Crawfish Without Looking Like a Tourist,” and while my tutorial is sure to provoke controversy or at least stoke commentary, I believe the “art of the boil” is long overdue for discussion.

As far as local culinary traditions go, eating boiled crawfish in the springtime is a Cajun/Creole seasonal social outing that is second nature to anyone raised on the bayou. But I have lots of out-of-towners that are anxious to eat boiled crawfish for the very first time. And they all want to know in advance what the “rules of engagement” are for this mysterious culinary ritual. How to dress?  How to prepare?  How to keep from making a fool of yourself?  These are good questions, and if you follow these six simple rules you will look, act, and peel like a local, not a yokel.

6 Things to Know Before You Go

1-    Dress Appropriately.

No fancy schmancy Charleston seersucker, socialite, dressy duds.  Dress down, not up.  Jeans are perfectly fine. Don’t wear a white shirt – darker the better, and short sleeves are recommended.  By the way, you may be offered a  bib (yes, some waiters can recognize a newbie from across the room) and feel free to use it as many experienced locals do.  Although I’ve seen 300-pound oilfield roustabouts wearing bibs (usually with a picture of a lobster on it), I find it unnecessary.  It’s a personal thing.  Besides, that’s why I’m wearing the dark shirt.  And for goodness’ sake, take out your contact lenses and wear your glasses, the spice on your hands will linger no matter how many times you wash them.

2-    Beer in Hand.

No wine.  No sweet tea.  No mojito-rita-tini frappe.  Just an ice-cold bottle of beer.  Or two.  And if you’re a teetotaler, opt for water, which you will need anyway.

3-    The Order of Things.

If at a backyard crawfish boil, the standing position along a long table covered with newspaper is the usual method.  If eating crawfish for the first time in a restaurant, sit.  Order the five-pound tray (trust me, you’ll want it all).  Order it seasoned “mild,” — remember, you are a first-timer; don’t go kamikaze on me.  “Mild” is boiled in seasoned water and is plenty hot to most neophytes, and I’ve seen a lot of brutes buckle under the pressure of a “spicy hot” mound of mudbugs.  Anyway, you can always sprinkle on a little Cajun seasoning at the table.  Ask for another beer.

4-    The Add-Ons.

Stick with tradition.  Get the corn and potatoes, and especially the onions (they are not like any onions you’ve ever eaten – spicy, yet sweet).  Pass on the trendy mushrooms, artichokes, sausage links, and any other add-on du jour taking up room in the boiling pot (and your stomach).  Sauce is optional, but if you’re a “dunker,” make your own dipping sauce–ketchup, mayo, horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and hot sauce–in any varying intensity that strikes your fancy.  Order another beer.

5-    The Steaming Hot Tray.

With a mountain of screaming hot, just-out-of-the-pot boiled crawfish sitting right in front of you, you are now in uncharted waters.  As you take a whiff and your sinuses open up, it’s time to wipe the fog from your glasses and survey the massive mound of steaming mudbugs in front of you.   Your first primal instinct is fear of the unknown.  Don’t panic.  Don’t run.  Resist any inner urge to scream for help.  Roll up your sleeves and take a long drink of ice-cold beer.

Don’t even think about asking someone to peel your crawfish for you.  The bayou rule is “you’ve got to peel your crawfish bayou self.”  Look around the restaurant, and you’ll even see five-year-old kids peeling their own; it is a Cajun rite of passage.

Survey your tray of crawfish; it’s okay if the sizes vary, but they should all look uniform in color (red) with curled tails.  Old-school locals swear that a straight-tail crawfish is dead before it is cooked, but that is debatable.  I always listen to experience and suggest removing and discarding them anyway.

Inspect your crawfish for color, clarity, and curling of the tail.

Tackle the tray head-on.  Align your sauce bowl to one side and your shell basket to the other.  Take the first crawfish with the tail in your left hand and the head in your right.  Break off the head and in one motion bring it to your waiting mouth and squeeze.  Sucking the head juices spiked with crawfish fat and spicy seasoning is a ceremonial entry into the Cajun world.  With that one act of legitimacy, you have now removed any trace of being a tourist and have firmly established yourself as a crawfish-eating local.

Next, you have several tail-peeling options.  First up is the impressively skillful, one-handed bite-pull-and-pinch technique that you will see many seasoned Cajuns use.  Even I haven’t mastered this one, so let’s move on to more manageable methods for getting the tail meat out of the shell.  My wife subscribes to the two-thumbs technique of splitting open the tail down the middle and lifting out the meat.  I am more methodical:  Hold the tail in your right hand and with your left hand, peel the first and second rings of shell from the tail while squeezing the bottom of the tail with the thumb of your right hand.  This pinching action will free the tail-meat.  Take a quick look at it and remove any black vein (similar to a shrimp) along the back of the tail.  You can now dunk it into your bowl of dipping sauce and devour.  Take a swig of beer and repeat about 50 more times.

Watch the repetitive action of others around you and find your rhythm – your peeling pace. And have fun; it’s a party. As crawfish juices run down your arms (you should have worn short sleeves) and your tongue tingles from the peppery heat, you will be overcome with a sense of joy and understanding of how delightfully delicious this culturally significant culinary ritual is.  And you will feel victorious in your accomplishment.

Congratulations.  You are now a bona fide, head-suckin’, tail pinchin’, boiled crawfish expert.

6-   After the Boil.

You will inevitably have a mound of leftover crawfish (that’s why you ordered five pounds).  While sipping your beer, invite everyone to continue peeling until you have a big pile of tail meat.  This is for the crawfish étouffée you will be making the next day, and I can assure you this Cajun recipe will be the best smothered crawfish over rice you’ve ever tasted.  I even like to bag up all the discarded heads and shells to make a flavorful crawfish stock.  Simply wash off the excess spice and add them to a stockpot filled halfway with water.  Simmer for two hours and strain off the rich stock.  The essence of fat and flavor from the crawfish are perfect for any seafood gumbo, bisque, or étouffée.

And once you’ve finished peeling, clean your hands like a local by crumbling a couple of saltine crackers (they are most always on the table) between your hands.  Squeeze a lemon in your palms and wipe your hands with a fresh napkin.

And one more thing: I want to hear from you.  What did I miss?  Please comment on this story and let us all know your take on eating boiled crawfish with any “dos and don’ts” that will add to the discussion.

And finally, here’s my Cajun recipe for Classic Crawfish Étouffée.

Simmered down in a rich, buttery mixture of spice and aromatics, my classic Cajun recipe for crawfish étouffée showcases deep Cajun flavors.

5.0 from 7 reviews
Classic Crawfish Étouffée
 
Prep time
45 mins
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
1 hour 5 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds Louisiana crawfish tail meat
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup crawfish stock or seafood stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup diced green onion tops
  • 4 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onions, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté until tender and add the garlic. Lower the heat to simmer and stir to combine. Season the mixture with cayenne and add the crawfish tail meat stirring to combine.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to incorporate and begin cooking the flour. Add some of the stock and continuing stirring until it begins to thicken. Add more stock until you get a stew-like thickness.
  3. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve over a mound of white rice garnished with chopped parsley and green onion tops.
Notes
It is best to peel your own, but packaged tail meat is a huge time saver and works just fine. If you use the packaged, be sure to add a little water to the fat inside the bag to get all the flavor out.
3.5.3217

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick and painless.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

 

 

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With its creamy depth of seafood flavor accented by white wine and the rich flavor of artichoke hearts, my Seafood Bisque is a rich and decadent Louisiana dish that is as historical as it is delicious.

A Creole classic: Seafood Bisque. (All photos credit: George Graham)

This Seafood Bisque is what I like to call “Haute Creole.” It’s a classic, time-honored, New Orleans specialty served in the finest white-tablecloth eateries in the city. I obsess over this dish and order it most anytime I see it.

I suspect the Creole cooks of the 1800s were influenced by the European taste for cream, butter, and wine (ingredients seldom seen in black culture of the time), and the inclusion of artichoke came from the Sicilian migration of the period. All along the Louisiana coast, a bountiful supply of fresh Gulf shrimp and blue crab was readily available, and the dish was embraced widely by the aristocratic society of of the region.

Meanwhile, over in Acadiana, the farm-to-table diet of Cajun families was more attuned to meats (mostly pork and wild game) and the coastal seafood catch, which was cooked simply and without the flair and flavors of the city. Artichokes were non-existent at the time, and it would be years later that Italians began to influence the Southwest Louisiana region. Even to this day, you rarely see this cream-based Seafood Bisque on Acadiana kitchen tables, and only occasionally in restaurants.

For me, this beloved dish is a special treat, and with this simple recipe, you can easily bring my Seafood Bisque to your table, too.

Seafood Bisque
 
Prep time
30 mins
Cook time
1 hour
Total time
1 hour 30 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 (14.50-ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered and packed in water, drained
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon diced green onion tops
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
  • Kosher salt
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 pound medium (41/50 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound lump crabmeat
Instructions
  1. In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, add the butter and onion, and cook until the onions turn translucent about 5 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts, garlic, green onions, and parsley. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a straight-edge spatula to prevent burning. Add the wine to deglaze and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine reduces to just a tablespoon or two, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in the flour and stir it into the mixture. Cook to the blond roux stage or just until the raw taste of the flour is gone, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and cream, and stir the mixture to combine. Let the mixture come to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to simmer.
  3. Add the lemon slices, pepper, Cajun seasoning, and a dash or two of hot sauce. Let the mixture thicken—about 10 minutes—and add kosher salt to taste.
  4. This base can now be held until you are ready to serve; it can also be made the day before and refrigerated.
  5. For serving, bring the mixture back to a simmer, and add the shrimp and crabmeat. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve piping hot in bowls with more hot sauce on the table.
Notes
I like the combination of shrimp and crab, but feel free to use just one. Claw crabmeat (it's cheaper} works great in this creamy dish, but feel free to break the bank with jumbo lump. This bisque should be a thick, chowder-like consistency; if too thick, add a bit of water. I like serving this simply with toasted baguette croutons, but traditional dinner rolls or mini-croissants would be an elegant touch. If you have leftover soup, I recommend you create a pasta dish by serving it over linguine noodles.
3.5.3217

An elegant starter or a complete entree, this Seafood Bisque is a hearty dish.

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this Cajun cooking story and Cajun recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick and painless.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new Cajun cooking stories and Cajun recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

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This carb-friendly Cheese-Crust Shrimp and Mushroom Pizza is the best thing since sliced you-know-what. The crackle of the cheddar crust is the first signal that this is no ordinary pizza dough. As the ooze of the melted mozzarella cloaks the earthy and ocean combo of Gulf shrimp and button mushrooms, this simple (and quick) recipe is guaranteed to redefine pizza forever.

Crispy cheese crust is topped with melted mozzarella and tasty toppings. (All photos credit: George Graham)

I love to cook low-carb. Not only do excessive carbohydrates sap my energy (read: nap time) but they pack on the pounds. Fortunately, a ketogenic (low-carb) diet is one weight-loss program that actually works for me, since I have always had a lifelong dislike of carbs and sugars. But there is a catch, and it’s one you can relate to: I have cravings. And the one craving that always sneaks up on me first is—you guessed it—pizza. I love the taste, the texture, the smell, and the party that takes place when I eat pizza. The crust is the culprit here; meats, vegetables, and cheese are low-carb, but the crust…what to do about the crust?

The trick: The bottom cheese crust melts to a crispy texture that holds all the ingredients together, but without the carbs or gluten.

I tried the thin bread crust (too many carbs), cauliflower crust (still too many carbs), the kibbe crust (too complicated), and I even tried “skinning” the pizza where you just eat the top and leave the crust behind (too messy and disgusting). I was at my wit’s end when I found a recipe for a little carb-free cracker made by melting tablespoon clumps of cheddar cheese in a hot skillet. Light bulb moment! Why not spread an entire 10-inch, non-stick skillet with cheddar and let it crisp up to a crunchy foundation for layering on the pizza ingredients. Oh, yeah!

Use tomato paste sparingly.

Here’s the key to making it work: No oven necessary; this is cooked on the stove top, but that necessitates that any raw ingredients be pre-cooked before topping the pizza. Use ingredients with very little moisture since the added liquid will make the crust soggy. For instance, if you prefer a tomato taste, use tomato paste (I buy it in the tube) and add it on sparingly (tomatoes have carbs); liquid tomato sauce will cause the cheese crust to soften.

The ingredients are simple; the combinations are endless.

This invention is the quickest and easiest way to make pizza, and if I weren’t on the keto diet, I would still prefer it over traditional doughy bread crust. It’s just that good. I’ve made dozens of versions depending on what I have on hand, but with some Gulf shrimp and button mushrooms, I’ve stumbled on a winning combination.

Whether you are on a low-carb diet or not, give this inspired new way of making pizza a try; my Cheese-Crust Shrimp and Mushroom Pizza just might become your favorite, too.

Cheese-Crust Shrimp and Mushroom Pizza
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
15 mins
Total time
35 mins
 
Recipe by: George Graham - AcadianaTable.com
Serves: 6 slices
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 large button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ pound medium (36-40) Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Pinch of Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. In a 13-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and the mushrooms. Saute until the vegetables have browned, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until done, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the mixture lightly with Cajun seasoning. Move to a plate and keep warm.
  2. In the same skillet wiped clean over medium-high heat, add the cheddar cheese and spread it evenly across the surface. As the cheese begins melting, add small amounts of tomato paste in spots and sprinkle on the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. After the cheese has fully melted and begins forming a crust underneath, add the mozzarella along with the shrimp and mushrooms, distributing evenly.
  4. Tear the basil leaves and distribute on top.
  5. With a spatula, lift an edge of the cheddar cheese crust and look to see that it is forming a brown crust. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking on the stove top until the mozzarella melts. Once the bottom cheese crust turns golden brown, but before you begin to see wisps of smoke or smell burning, turn the pizza out of the pan and onto a cutting board.
  6. Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes as the bottom crust hardens to a crackly crunch. The top layer of cheese will be melted and gooey.
  7. Slice and enjoy.
Notes
The size of your pan dictates the size of the pizza, so for a personal pan pizza, use a 8-inch non-stick pan. I buy the spice jar of Italian dried herbs (oregano, rosemary, etc.) for the convenience, but feel free to mix up your own herbs. You can use mild or sharp cheddar, but do not buy the low-fat cheese. Get creative: crawfish tails, boudin, andouille, crabmeat, and pulled pork are all versions that I have made.
3.5.3217

Low in carbs, and big on taste. This pizza rocks!

YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE:  If you like this cooking story and recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page.  It’s quick, painless, and FREE.  You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new cooking stories and recipes are added.  Thanks, George.

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