Friday, April 30, 2010

Bear with me...

I'll ask you all to bear with me over the next couple of weeks. I am moving soon and most of my kitchen is packed for travel. The good news is that my new kitchen is huge. It has ~60 sq ft of counterspace, 5 burner gas stove, built-in humidity controlled wine fridge (aka "the curing chamber"!!!).

I will also be replacing the log-burning barbeque pit that I lost to that damn hurricane... So I ask you to bear with me as I resettle. I will make it up to you. I am keeping a list. To date, I owe my readers a batch of Chaurice, Saucisse, and Tasso. If you can hand on, I have an 100 year-old recipe for Creole Boudin that is wildly different from modern Cajun-Style Boudin.

Posts will be forthcoming,

David

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Sad Day for Andouille Fans

Yesterday Jacob's World Famous Andouille and Sausage store in LaPlace, LA caught fire. It appears that they may have be able to salvage their original 82 year-old smokehouse. Fortunately no one was injured. Hopefully they will be back in business soon. LaPlace wouldn't be the same without Jacob's and Bailey's 50 yards apart.

David

Monday, April 19, 2010

Help Me Win!

Friends,

A small group of Louisiana rice farmers got together to market the variety of jasmine rice that was developed by the Louisiana State University Ag Center under the name "Jazzmen Rice". I have been selected as a finalist in Gambit Weekly contest to develop a new recipe to help promote Jazzmen Louisiana Rice. Online voting runs through April 29. If you are willing, I'd appreciate your support for my Crispy Jazzmen Rice Cakes in Crawfish-Tasso Cream. (Click HERE to vote) Feel free to tell your friends as well. One lucky voter will win a new commercial blender!!!

I literally developed this recipe from scratch. I set out to create a recipe that would showcase the rice and incorporate local ingredients. I decided that would give myself bonus points if I could incorporate my pork products as well. I came up with the rice cakes first. Most people treat rice as an afterthought. I wanted it to be front and center in my submission. Then I decided to thoroughly "localize" the recipe by creating a Crawfish-Tasso cream. I am still in the process of perfecting my own tasso, but my current iteration is pretty darned good. The store-bought versions are good, but mine is a tad more assertive. Here is my entry into the contest:




Crispy Jazzmen Rice Cakes in Crawfish-Tasso Cream

Crawfish-Tasso Cream

Ingredients:

Directions:

Melt butter over a medium heat. Add Tasso and Vidalia onions. Stir until onions are translucent. Sprinkle flour over the tasso-onion mixture and stir until the flour becomes lightly fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth. Season to taste with a grating of nutmeg and salt. Add crawfish tails, fat, and shallots. Return to a low simmer. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes until desired consistency is reached.

Rice Cakes

Ingredients:

2 Cups cooked Jazzmen Rice
1 Large Egg
1 TBS All Purpose Flour
1 TBS Whole Milk
1/4 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp Sweet Paprika
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
3-4 TBS Canola Oil

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over a medium high heat. Divide rice batter into four equal portions approximately 1/2 cup each. The batter will be fairly loose, but will set during cooking. Take one portion of batter and form a ball in your palm. Place the ball into the skillet and press down lightly to flatten. Repeat for other portions, being careful no to crowd the pan. Once cakes begin to brown around the edges, carefully flip them over. The cakes are finished when they have a crispy golden exterior and a soft, moist center.


Louisiana Crawfish Tails


To serve:

Ladle about a cup of Crawfish-Tasso mixture onto a plate and place a hot crispy Jazzmen rice cake on top. Garnish with chopped parsley and a side of cold beer.


Don't even think about using Chinese crawfish, they are and unacceptable substitute. If you can't get crawfish, substitute shrimp instead.


Thanks,

David

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saucisses

Last week I mentioned the wonderful Picayune Creole Cookbook when discussing Chaurice (see here). Another "lost" Creole sausage from the late 1800's and early 1900's is Saucisse, or more appropriately "Saucisse Creole". I generally do not reprint recipes, but since this was originally published in 1902 I assume that it is public domain.


This screenshot is from the 1922 edition. It is hard to explain the opulence of this sausage in its day. Spices such as allspice, nutmeg, mace, and clove were luxuries in the 1800's. Traditionally, this sausage was stuffed into sheep casings and fried in lard. I have made this as described and it is wonderful. Don't forget to brine the sausage. I am thinking about making a batch of this in the near future. Standby for updates...

David

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chaurice, Revisited

About two years ago, I realized that "hamburger" apparently means something different to New Orleaneans than to most of the rest of the country. In most places, hamburger means beef, ground and formed into a patty, then grilled. It might be seasoned with salt and pepper. In New Orleans, hamburger is more accurately described as a beef sausage formed into a patty and grilled. The beef is usually contains minced onions, garlic, and parsley. It is also may be seasoned with little salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, and Worcestershire. Some people add an egg as well. I grew up eating this type of burger, and didn't know any different until I was in a restaurant in Virgina that advertised "New Orleans-style hamburgers". Then I noticed that everywhere else I went, burgers were predominantly just beef with different toppings. Like nearly everything else, we do it differently (and people in Texas thinks they're like a whole other country...).

So what does this have to do with Chaurice? Well, in the last 10 years or so, somebody got the bright idea to mix bulk Chaurice with ground beef to make a hot sausage burger. I have an 11 LB sausage stuffer that generally has about a pound of sausage in the piston and tube after stuffing. When I make Chaurice, I take this remainder and mix it with about two pounds of ground chuck to make burgers. They are really good. If you make Chaurice, I recommend that you try it.

David

Note: I failed to mention in the previous post that some people who still make Chaurice do not stuff it at all and use it in bulk form.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Bambi, Now It's Skippy


Australia's budding kangaroo meat industry is promoting the meat as a healthy and environmentally conscious alternative to pork, beef, or lamb. The article touts benefits of kangaroo because of their minimal emissions of greenhouse gas: "Cows fart, kangaroos don't."

Of course they make kangaroo sausage, called Kanga Bangas. I cannot find a description of the sausage. There is no mention of the seasonings, but I assume it is a contraction of "Kangaroo Bangers". The company website touts the sausage as being gluten free and 98% fat free. Pardon me for being skeptical.

I would bet that kangaroo meat tastes just fine, but the word "taste" does not appear in the article one time. I have a hard time worrying about kangaroo emissions when I would probably cook the sausage over charcoal or wood. It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

David

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A tour of Jacob's Andouille

In a complete coincidence, I stumbled across this website tonight:


It seemed apropos in light of my last two posts. I hate to send you elsewhere, but this guy has already done the work for me. No point in recreating the wheel. He is from Detroit, but appears to be fairly knowledgeable about Louisiana. He made the trek to LaPlace to see the Andouille Capital of the World. He has great pictures and pretty good descriptions of Jacob's Andouille. I don't have the heart to tell him that he was 50 yards from Bailey's as well.

Stay tuned for a posting on Creole Saucisse and Saucisson.

David

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creole Sausage

I mentioned in the previous post that I became interested in making sausage by finding historic recipes in old cookbooks that I collect. That prompted an inquiry about the recipe for Chaurice. I'll share my personal recipe that was developed based on the few recipes I was able to locate in older books. Before I do that, I would like to give a brief overview of charcutrie in Louisiana.

In simple terms, you can separate "Cajun" and "Creole" into "Country" and "City" (it's an oversimplification, but it will suffice for our purposes here). The Cajuns were of predominantly French decent with a sprinkling of German heritage. The very best Andouille is found in LaPlace, LA which is adjacent to Des Allemands (literally "The Germans" in French) along a stretch of the Mississippi river known as the "German Coast". The lore is that the Germans brought additional sausagemaking skills to the Cajuns. The Cajuns claim ownership of such products and Andouille, Boudin, Chaudin, Ponce, and Tasso. Because Cajun culture remains relatively undiluted, these traditional products are still made as they have been for 100+ years. West of Baton Rouge, one can spend a full day driving the coutryside and pondering the finer points of Boudin (save that argument for another day).

If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, it is worth the 40 minute drive to LaPlace to visit the twin meccas of Andouille, Jacob's and Bailey's. Both claim to be the "original". As I understand it, Bailey worked for old man Jacob. After the old man retired (died?) the kids changed the recipe to meet USDA regulations so that they could ship across state lines. Bailey was so disgusted, that he quit and opened up 50 yards away with the old recipe. So technically, both are correct. Jacob's has the original location and Bailey's has the original recipe.

In the late 1700's, the 1800's, and into early 1900's New Orleans was a city of great wealth. The Creoles built grand restaurants, such as Galatiore's, Antoine's, and Arnaud's, that are still with us today. The Creole culture has been diluted by wave upon wave of immigrants to the port city. Their cultural impact significantly eroded from 1900-1980, and was probably irreversibly damaged by hurricane Katrina. In books written from 1890-1960, you will find numerous references to "the good old days". I mentioned the Picayune Creole Cookbook in my prior post. I actually have two copies, the 1910 edition and the 1966 edition. The latter edition contains the same early sausage recipes, but adds that they are rarely made anymore and were only included "for historical interest".

In the 1950's, New Orleans chef Scoop Kennedy wrote the following reference to "the good old days":

"He remembers when the French Market of New Orleans was world famous. He remembers a lady who sat on a bench in the market at Madison and Decatur. She sold three articles and none other: pate de foie gras, hogshead cheese and hot sausage all homemade.
Most astonishing (and typical of the "old days") was the lady's personal pride in her products. Her stock was small and she sold it only to those whom she thought would appreciate them. In other words, she selected her customers. It was a type of beneficient snobbery. Like a queen she bestowed her favors with discrimination."
I think that it is important to remember the historical context of the old Creole recipes. In the 1800's and early 1900's, spices were very rare and expensive. The wealthy residents of New Orleans had the port to give them access to exotic spices and the money to afford them. In Jackson Square of the French Quarter, there is a restored home called the "1850 House" that is operated as a museum. In the house, one of the more interesting features is the spice safe. Highly seasoned food was a sign of affluence. One of the products of such seasoning was Chaurice. Here is my recipe for it:

Chaurice
  • 10 LBS of Boston Butt
  • 3 Cups of Onions, minced
  • 2 Cups of Green Onions, minced
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Garlic, minced (or run through a garlic press)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, minced
  • 4 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon of Crushed Pepper Flakes
  • 8-12 oz of Ice Water (as needed)
Grind all ingredients through a medium plate. Mix thoroughly and stuff into medium hog casings. Arrange on a sheet pan and allow the sausages to mature overnight in the refrigerator.

Chaurice is used numerous ways. It can be smoked and used to make gumbos and jambalayas. To make a poor boy, it is grilled and sliced lengthwise, then served on toasted crusty French bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. It is also served just grilled with Creole mustard for dipping.

Enjoy,

David

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why Make Your Own?

I may have posted this before, but I originally got interested in making sausage after I started collecting old cookbooks. One in particular, the Picayune's Creole Cookbook (2nd ed. - 1910), contains recipes for forgotten Creole sausages. Most people know Cajun andouille and boudin, but few are familiar with chaurice, and I know of no one that makes Creole saucisses or saucissons. My fist attempt to make sausage was chaurice. I was stunned by the difference in quality that I could produce at home and began to realize how poor the quality was in most store-bought sausage. I was surprised at how much "stuff" was in store-bought sausage. I appreciated the simplicity of homemade sausage; meat, fat, seasoning, salt.

If your experience with sausages is similar to mine, you may be interested in the book I am currently reading, Polish Sausages, by Stanley Marianski (2009). The book begins with a history of polish sausagemaking, explaining that the Poles originally learned the craft from the Romans. They then spent several centuries perfecting recipes for the many regional varieties through trade associations and unions. After World War II, the communist Polish government established a commission to formally document the traditional recipes. They identified and defined over 100 specific varieties in a book that was only distributed to licensed union butchers. After the fall of communism in 1989, most butchers absconded with their copies of the book. Mr. Marianski obtained a copy and has translated the standards, methodologies, and recipes for over 60 traditional Polish products.

I am still reading the book, but thus far I am impressed with the high level of detail and content. Of particular interest to me was a passage where the author compares a traditional recipe to the ingredient lists for four brands of store bought Polish sausage. He goes on to say that the only chemical or additive the Polish government allowed was saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate) and that there were severe punishments for butchers who used other additives or inferior meats in there sausages. The author notes two cases where butchers who used inferior meats were sentenced to death and executed. He concludes the section by saying, "if today's recipes and manufacturing methods were somehow introduced to the meat inspectors in 1959-1989 Poland, there wouldn't be enough jail cells to accommodate meat plant managers."

It is amazing to realize that the basic recipes for sausages and cured meats are ones that worked just fine literally for centuries and that in the last 30-50 years they have changed radically, usually at great expense to the quality. If you are a purist at heart, I strongly recommend this book.

David