Home Cooking 21

Cajun Rice & Gravy

cowboyardee | Dec 14, 201112:32 PM

Ok, so last night I made some rice & gravy, cajun style (AFAIK). It was delicious - this isn't quite one of those 'what did I do wrong' threads. But the problem is, I've never been to Louisiana, and never tried the dish before making it. So I want to compare notes with someone more familiar with the dish than I am.

First off, how spicy is it supposed to be? I used a good bit of seasoning, and the spice was still far from upfront. It is supposed to hit you with a lot of cayenne? Or a bit herbal flavor?

Another question - what is it normally served with? Besides rice I mean. It seemed to need a little acid the way I made it, so I added some with the garnish. What do people do in Cajun country?

Anything I should know about the rice?

Does the method and ingredients I used look about right? I really love the technique. Like baking a great loaf of bread or a really excellent pasta pomodoro from scratch, there's sort of an element of alchemy to this kind of cooking, where you use a few simple ingredients to create flavors and textures that would seem impossible. It's like you're creating something out of nothing. Probably my favorite kind of cooking.

For reference here is the basic recipe I used

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a stainless/aluminum pan until it just starts to brown.

Then add:
1 slivered onion (medium large)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1.5 pounds of chicken thigh cut into chunks (bones removed)
A pinch of salt.

Cook over medium heat, stirring very often. THE IMPORTANT PART: The vegetables wilt and give up their liquid, and then eventually the whole thing starts to brown on the bottom, forming a stuck layer of dark brown fond on the bottom of the pan. As this layer gets thick, just before it starts to burn, deglaze the pan with maybe 1/4 cup of cool water. Cook off that water, brown again, and repeat. Repeat this browning and deglazing many times - I did this for maybe 45 minutes, deglazing the pan maybe 8 times total until I had a dark brown sauce where the vegetables had fully disintegrated. I added about 3 cloves of garlic (minced) for the last deglazing.

Add a couple cups of water, along with spices (I used black pepper, dried thyme (decent quality), dried oregano (not so great), a good bit of paprika right at the end, a pinch of cayenne, some mustard powder, and salt to taste). Simmer it down to desired thickness - for me, that was something akin to an Indian curry.

Serve over rice (I used white arborio - no it wasn't cooked creamy like a risotto). I served it with fresh parsley and quick-pickled onions on top.

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