Lately, I’ve been struggling with the food of the great state of Louisiana. I love the idea of Cajun food. I love the history, the influences, the spices. But, apparently, I suck at making it. Just in time to give me a hand is the Donald Link book Real Cajun. It hits on the swamp classics (etouffee, gumbo, oysters and the like), with personal stories to back them up.
The James Beard Foundation recently gave Real Cajun top honors for the category of ‘American Cooking’. It also wins the Austin Food Journal award for ‘Kick-Assness’ due to its local ties. Chef McClung at Jeffrey’s cut his teeth at Link’s top notch New Orleans restaurant Herbsaint. And, it’s co-written by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Austinite Paula Disbrowe.
First out of the gate, Chicken Sauce Piquant (page 123). It is a spicy chicken, pepper and tomato stew. The dish starts out as fried chicken, with the sauce started in the same pan. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies are cooked down with chicken stock and herbs. Gutsy, rich, satisfying.
I may be getting over my fear of Cajun cooking. This book is a push in the right direction. Or, it could be the altar to Emeril Lagasse I set up in the pantry. Either way, I’m back on track.