Northeast Times

Cajun cuisine

En­joy au­then­t­ic cajun cook­ing without hav­ing to leave Phil­adelphia.

“How do we get to Marks­ville?” With that ques­tion answered, we were on our way.

Marks­ville, in Louisi­ana, was the ho­met­own of my fath­er-in-law, George. My hus­band, dur­ing his child­hood, vis­ited Marks­ville fre­quently with his dad. We were on our way to vis­it fam­ily still in Louisi­ana. My hus­band was happy to be able to see his aunt, uncle and cous­ins, again, and I wanted my guys to know a little about their Louisi­ana roots.  

Roots are a big thing these days. There seems to be an in­sa­ti­able hun­ger to know where you came from – to know your roots. With the In­ter­net and An­ces­try.com, you can learn about your fam­ily tree and even have your DNA de­ciphered. But to really get to your roots, you may have to break a sweat, so we went on a sum­mer va­ca­tion to Cajun coun­try to meet Aunt Hazel, Uncle Lloyd and the fam­ily.

To say I was ex­cited was an un­der­state­ment. For want of a bet­ter word, I was ex­cited to meet the people and ex­cited to sample the foods — beignets loaded with powdered sug­ar, caf&ea­cute; au lait, craw­fish, shrimp, grits, red beans and rice, gumbo, Jam­balaya, Po Boys, pralines, pies, cakes and hot sauce(s) galore. These foods were every­where when we landed in New Or­leans. The cli­mate was cer­tainly warm enough (Louisi­ana in the sum­mer is really hot), and it amazed me to see a ba­nana tree grow­ing in the middle of the city in Jack­son Square. 

We ren­ted a car and left the land of Bour­bon Street jazz, voo­doo dolls and above-ground cemeter­ies, and headed in the dir­ec­tion of Bat­on Rouge. After passing miles of rice fields we ar­rived, to our sur­prise, in Bor­de­lon­ville. Since the Bor­de­lon­ville Post Of­fice was closed, we shared our name­sake en­thu­si­asm with a lady (can you guess her name?) who ran the Bor­de­lon­ville Gen­er­al Store. She offered us pickled pig ears (c’mon, we eat scrapple here) from a big glass jar that was on the counter. We thanked her, but didn’t want to take the last one.

After an­oth­er half-hour drive around the bay­ou, we fi­nally ar­rived in Marks­ville.   

At the base of Cajun/creole cook­ing is the “holy trin­ity” of onions, green bell pep­per and cel­ery. A re­cipe for Jam­balaya is no ex­cep­tion. Jam­balaya, a spicy rice dish, is usu­ally cooked with meat(s) and sea­food. I al­ways in­clude shrimp, but vary the meats us­ing leftovers or what I have on hand. You can’t really go wrong!

When Mardi Gras time rolls around, I think of our trip to Louisi­ana. Jam­balaya was cook­ing on the day we ar­rived in Marks­ville. I was glad to try a new din­ner en­tr&ea­cute;e, but was cer­tain we took home more than a re­cipe.  

JAM­BALAYA

1/2 lb. smoked saus­age links, cut in­to ¼ inch slices

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced cel­ery

1 cup green bell pep­per, chopped

1/8 cup jalapeno pep­pers, chopped

1 Tb­sp. minced gar­lic

1 can whole to­ma­toes, cut up (28-ounce)

2 cups chick­en broth

1 cup cooked chick­en, cubed 

1 cup ham, cubed

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. basil leaves

1/4 tsp. black pep­per

1/2 tsp. thyme leaves

1/4 tsp. cay­enne pep­per

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup pars­ley, chopped

1 cup un­cooked long-grain white rice

1/2 lb. fresh or frozen raw shrimp, shelled and de­veined

Hot pep­per sauce

- In a Dutch oven over me­di­um heat, cook saus­age, onion, cel­ery, pep­pers and gar­lic un­til tender.  

- Add re­main­ing in­gredi­ents ex­cept rice, shrimp and pep­per sauce.

- Stir and bring to a boil.

- Re­duce heat, add rice, stir once, cov­er and sim­mer about 15 minutes un­til rice is al­most done.

- Add shrimp.

- Cook 2-3 minutes or un­til shrimp turn pink.

- Re­move bay leaf.

- Serve with hot pep­per sauce on the side.

Serves 6

Mardi Gras (Fat Tues­day) is next Tues­day. Don’t for­get the dough­nuts! 

Lais­sez Les Bon Temp Roul­ez - Let The Good Times Roll!

Eat well, live long, en­joy!   

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­NEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053.)

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