Louisiana-Style Cooking: 6 Cajun and Creole Recipes

Louisiana takes its food heritage seriously; so seriously that the Louisiana Office of Tourism has a page on Travel Louisiana in order to explain the difference between cajun and creole cooking. The lines separating the cuisines of these two distinct cultures have grown increasingly hazy over the years, as people use them interchangeably, which makes identifying dishes difficult. It states one ultimate, steadfast rule: When you use tomatoes, the dish is no longer really considered Cajun. Diving into the deeper differences, each culture was shaped by nationalities, circumstances, and location. Selling Louisiana travel to its fullest, it does say you need to be in the state to really experience authentic cajun and creole cuisine, but if a visit to the Bayou State isn’t on your travel itinerary, you can make any of these six recipes for foods inspired by these iconic cultures at home.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

1. Cajun Chicken Pasta

Give your Italian pasta a hefty dose of Cajun influence with Southern Living‘s cajun chicken pasta. Make the dish when you’re pressed for time, but don’t want to sacrifice flavor to the persistent ticking of the clock; ready in under 30 minutes, it makes four servings.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 2 pounds chicken breast (cut into pieces or strips)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package fresh mushrooms
  • 2 green onions (white and light green parts only), sliced
  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • chopped green onions, to garnish

Directions:  Prepare pasta according to package directions. Sprinkle chicken evenly with Cajun seasoning and 1 teaspoon salt. Melt ¼ cup butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until done. Remove chicken.

Add bell peppers, mushrooms, and green onions to skillet, and sauté 9 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates. Return chicken to skillet; stir in half-and-half, next 3 ingredients, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat 3 to 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add linguine; toss to coat. Garnish, if desired, and serve immediately.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Shrimp Creole

When making the Shrimp Creole from SparkRecipes.com, it is important to remember that shrimp cooks very quickly, and overcooked shrimp is a rubbery bite that no one wants to take. Check out SeaPak for tips on cooking shrimp and other basic information.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion (about 1½ cups), chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, no salt added
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, (18 or 19 count per pound)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

Directions: Sauté the onions in a large pan set over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and celery, cook another two minutes, then add the peppers, spices and tomato paste to the pan, stirring as the mixture cooks another two minutes. Slowly add the tomato sauce and stock to the saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for two minutes. Serve over brown rice.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Jambalaya

When providing this recipe to NOLA.com, culinary instructor Marcelle Bienvenu stated that the dish shows not only cajun and creole influences, but what kind of jambalaya a person enjoys most is often dictated by what they grew up eating. For anyone who is a fan of tomatoes in their jambalaya, Bienvenu has this dish to offer; it serves four to six people.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and julienne
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound cubed boiled ham
  • ½ pound smoked sausage, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices (optional)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed with the can juices
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
  • Hot sauce, to serve

Directions: Heat the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until they are soft and lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the shrimp and ham, and sausage if using. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink. Stir in the tomatoes and chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and cayenne. Add the bay leaves and the rice. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

4. Cajun Jambalaya 

Prefer not to see tomatoes in your jambalaya? Test out Emile Stieffel’s Cajun jambalaya from the Food Network. Stieffel is a Chef and caterer, and this jambalaya took down Bobby Flay on an episode of Throwdown. A a 2-gallon cast iron Dutch oven is recommended for cooking, as is Manda’s sausage. It makes ten to twelve servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds mild smoked pork sausage, or any lean high-quality smoked pork sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thigh meat
  • 1½ pounds onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 pound tasso, cubed
  • ¾ tablespoon whole fresh thyme leaves
  • ¾ tablespoon chopped fresh sweet basil leaves
  • ½ tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon white pepper
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • ⅓ gallon chicken stock
  • 1¼ pounds long-grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped curly parsley leaves

Directions: Use high heat to preheat the Dutch oven and add the sausage. Using a chef’s spoon or large spoon, constantly move the sausage from the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to burn the meat. Add the thigh meat and brown the chicken on all sides. Again use the spoon to scrape the meat from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pot. Browning the sausage and chicken meats should take 20 minutes. Be careful not to over cook the thigh meat to the point that it shreds.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic; saute for about 15 minutes or until the onions are very limp and “clear”. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove all the “graton”. This is where the jambalaya gets its distinct brown color and taste. Add the tasso, thyme, basil and black and white pepper. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. This will give the seasonings time to release their oils and flavors.

At this point the jambalaya concentrate can be transferred to smaller containers, cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated for future use.

When you are ready to cook the jambalaya, add the stock to the concentrate and bring to a rolling boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium and gently break up the rice. Using the stainless steel paddle, continue to insure that the rice is not sticking to the bottom of the pot; this is very important!

After about 5 minutes, fold in the parsley. Continue to scrape the pot to insure that no rice sticks to the bottom. When the jambalaya returns to a boil, reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer, covered, for at least 25 minutes. Do not remove the cover while the rice is steaming.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

5. Creole Okra

According to Time, okra probably first made its way into the U.S. from Africa over three centuries ago. That long history hasn’t translated to popularity, with okra being trendier in other countries than America. Buck this tradition, and give a side dish a touch of Louisiana flair, by making the Creole okra from AllRecipes.com.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • ⅜ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen cut okra

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until limp. Add the green pepper; cook and stir until tender. Drain the tomatoes, reserving juice, and pour them into the skillet. Season with thyme, parsley, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Add the frozen okra, and pour in enough of the reserved juice from the tomatoes to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until okra is tender.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

6. Corn Maque Choux

A Cajun-styled side can be made using Bon Appetit‘s take on Corn Maque Choux. Nashville City Paper says that maque choux is pronounced “mock shoe,” and was likely first made by Native Americans before being influenced by Louisiana cooks, settlers, and residents.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 medium ears of corn)
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Coarse kosher salt

Directions: Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Mix in green onion, parsley, and basil. Season to taste with coarse salt, pepper, and more hot pepper sauce, if desired.

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