Posts tagged ‘cajun seasoning’

Mardi Gras Inspirations: Mock Turtle Soup & Red Beans and Rice

Between the Saints winning the Super Bowl and recent Mardi Gras celebrations, I’ve had New Orleans on my mind. My family visited NOLA a year or so ago and was truly inspired by the people and the food, and I’ve enjoyed trying to recreate some of our favorite food experiences from that trip. Two that we’ve particularly enjoyed are Mock Turtle Soup and Red Beans and Rice. Turtle soup was new to me when we visited New Orleans, but it was very tasty. However, turtle meat isn’t really a common staple here in Austin, Texas, so this recipe substitutes lean beef of stew meat in place of the turtle. The beef-based dish is a little more kid-friendly too. Red Beans and Rice is one of those dishes that is so simple in concept that can go so wrong in execution. Every restaurant in New Orleans has it on the menu, and the subject of who has the best is one of the most fiercely debated things in the Crescent City. After playing with the dish I’ve found one has the right balance of flavor for me and mine. Give both of these recipes a try and laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

Recipe: Mock Turtle Soup

Details

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz, lean stew meat, cut into ½ in cubes
  • ½ stick butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • ½ c. onion, medium diced
  • 1 stalk celery, medium diced
  • 1 bell pepper, medium diced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 c. beef stock
  • 1 cup dry sherry (not cooking sherry), divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¾ c. canned chopped tomatoes
  • 3 oz. chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 3 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 or 3 dashes of hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Dredge the meat in the flour and add to the pot along with the rest of the flour. Brown the meat, moving it around in the pot to avoid burning the flour.
  3. Add the onions, celery, and peppers, stirring constantly. Once the onions are slightly translucent (after about 5 minutes) add the garlic, thyme, oregano and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the stock and stir to combine, making sure you scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan up and integrate them into the soup.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil and add ¾ of the cup of sherry. Stir to combine and bring the soup back to a boil.
  6. Reduce the temperature to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Skim any fat or foam that comes to the top of the soup. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, tomatoes, spinach and egg. Bring to a simmer, taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  8. Divide the soup among four bowls. Serve with a light splash of the reserved sherry for the adults.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks

  • Don’t be afraid to caramelize the vegetables and meat, but remember that brown is good, black is bitter and bad.
  • The soup should thicken nicely from the flour you added to the meat, but won’t reach its full thickness until it has been boiled. Don’t panic if it stays slightly thinner than a stew, you can always simmer it longer than the 20 minutes before adding the additional ingredients to thicken.
  • Serve crusty French bread and a spinach salad to make a full meal.

Recipe: Red Beans and Rice

Details

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans red kidney beans
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into ¼ inch thick strips
  • ½ lb. smoked sausage, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 Tbsp. Cajun mixed seasoning
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 c. cooked white rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium heat until brown and crispy. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan, drain on paper towels, and reserve.
  2. Add the sausage to the pan, searing until crispy and brown. Remove, drain, and reserve.
  3. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the grease from the pan. Add the onions, celery and bell pepper to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cayenne, garlic, bay leaf, and Cajun seasoning to the vegetables and stir.
  5. Pour both cans of beans into the pan and mix vigorously to make sure that all of the vegetables are evenly distributed into the beans. Break up enough of the beans to thicken the entire mix.
  6. Lower the heat, add the liquid smoke and the cooked meat back to them pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  7. Serve over cooked white rice with hot sauce and crusty French bread.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks

  • Almost any meat or sausage can be used when making this dish, so go crazy! Try smoked turkey, drumsticks, salt pork, jalapeno sausage, or any family favorite. Experiment with your own blends to personalize this dish.
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February 18, 2010 at 11:42 am Leave a comment


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