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Cajun Comfort

Overview

Published: 06/26/2012

by ROSLYN RALPH

When you think of the city of New Orleans, three things come immediately to mind -- the Mardi Gras, jazz and Cajun cooking. Gumbos, jambalaya, blackened catfish, pralines, beignets served with café au lait and Bananas Foster are some of the dishes that make the city a food lover's paradise.

The spicy warmth of a hearty jambalaya or blackened catfish served with collard greens and black-eyed peas will conjure up the mood of the South. Fat Tuesday may have come and gone but why not put on some Zydeco music and laissez bon temps roulez.

Jambalaya

A Cajun classic! This one has sausage and ham but you can substitute shrimp for the ham if desired.
Serves 8.

Ingredients:


1 Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. each cayenne, salt and pepper
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, with liquid
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb andouille sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 lb lean diced ham or raw, peeled medium shrimp
3 cups long grain rice.

Directions
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and cook for 3 minutes to soften. Add green pepper, garlic, oregano, thyme, bay leaves cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add sausage, ham (if using), tomatoes, broth and rice.
Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until rice is tender.
If using shrimp instead of ham, these can be added toward the end of the cooking time. Stir shrimp into hot rice mixture and cover and cook for 10 minutes, until shrimp are pink. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Blackened Catfish

As with any fish, you want to make sure that the catfish is fresh. If catfish is not available, another firm, white fish, like tilapia, will do nicely.
Serves 4.

Ingredients:
2-3 catfish fillets (about 1-1/2 lb)
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne or to taste
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter.

Directions
In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Pat the fillets dry and sprinkle both sides with the spice mixture to coat. In a large fry pan, heat the oil and butter over moderately high heat. Sauté fish for about 6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Transfer to warmed plates and serve.
Tip: Since catfish fillets tend to be thicker at one end, cut the fillet in half, crosswise. The thicker portion will take longer than the tail portion to cook, so give it a couple of minutes head start before adding the tail portions to the pan. That way all the fish can be finished cooking at the same time.

Sautéed Collard Greens

An under-appreciated vegetable, collard is full of vitamins and great taste.
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 lb collard greens, washed, with stems and ribs removed
1/2 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.

Chop collard leaves into 1-inch pieces. In pot of boiling water, cook collard greens for 10 minutes, drain in colander, pressing out remaining liquid. Heat oil and butter in a fry pan over medium-high heat, add garlic and onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Add in collards and sauté for 5 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice and serve.

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