Cooking Louisiana - Newsletter - October 2008

Bonjour my fellow home chefs! 

Summer is leaving us and the Great Pumpkin is on the way along with the grand old Turkey! This will be the last newsletter for the season and I'll be back after the New Year. I wish you all well.

Wash the meat good!

We buy chops, steak, roast, chicken, etc. Before we cook it we wash it like there is a meat show coming up and your meats' chrome plating needs a big shine. What about ground meat? Do you wash that? No, you plop it into the bowl and start working it. What's the deal? Washing meat simply gets any saw remnants and lingering dirt off of it. Cooking it is what sterilizes it (makes it fit for consumption). What's my point? Quit freaking out!!!

Sausage Secrets

Many of us coonies eat sausage at least once a week in one way shape or form. We use it in Gumbo's, red beans and the like, and, sausage is just another seasoning in some instances. So what makes sausage so special? That depends on which brand and type of sausage you use. For the most part smoked sausage is used for the seasoning effect. Homemade or fresh sausage pretty much keeps to itself, but, is also good in a dish. So now we have two trains of thought... sausage "the seasoning" and sausage "the independent". 

After saying all of that I don't want you to think each scenario is "cooking law"! If you're a sausage connoisseur you know what I mean.

Brand name and price have a direct effect on the final product. In general the cheaper the price the more filler there will be. Fillers include fat and water. Fat is cheap and water is cheaper! When you cook low price sausage on the grill or Q and it splits apart within 5 minutes it's full of :explosives (fat and water). A quality smoked sausage won't normally do that. Now you can have explosive sausage and have great taste too. Is this confusing or what? Fat makes flavor and I like the flavor of flavor... write that down in your book of things to remember. Cows don't have a lot of fat... but guess what? Pigs do. So what is the most common filler? Pork fat. 

What's my point in the writings above? Try different sausages for different dishes. Test, test, test... To me the best "first" sausage test is the grill or BBQ. That gives you a starting point. For me heavily smoked sausages are best for gumbos. The smoke taste adds "body" to a gumbo. Heavily fatted sausage doesn't appeal to me not so much that it doesn't taste good, I just don't like all the grease. Commercial smoked I assume is smoked but you can't really taste the smoke. Local meat markets do a much better job... search them out; it's well worth your time.

One more point then I'll leave this alone. Boudin is not sausage although it looks like sausage. Boudin is pretty much rice dressing but with the perfect combination (ratio) of meat and rice and stuffed in sausage casing. Now, I'm going to let you in on another little secret. There is a place just north if Lafayette called Scott. Many of you know where I'm going with this so just be patient please. The place is called "The Best Stop". The name say's it all but here's my point. I mentioned smoking (smoked meats) above. If you want some if the best smoked stuff they have it! Let me add to that... If you never had smoked Boudin you've got to put this stuff on your list of things to do or eat. Here's the website... it's simple but the contact info is there They ship all over the U.S.  I've never been in the place when there wasn't 15 people in there at the meat case! I'm not kidding you... I've never seen anything like it. And when the customers walk out they look like they just scored a big one at the day after Thanksgiving Wal-Mart sale! I don't know how else to put it. 

To read a lot more about sausage try this link (funny huh? sausage... link). I'll get a grip tomorrow... I'm having flavor withdrawals right at the moment.

Ballard Cornbread Mix

Many of you old timers to the site know this already so y'all can skip on to the next subject; this is for the newcomers. Ballard Cornbread Mix is well known throughout the South as "The" cornbread mix to use in Cornbread Dressing. It was missing for a while but now it's back in a new form.

Read more here...Click

Site for Sale

This site is for sale. If you would like to own the rights to this site with all of it's content simply write a check out to me for 10 Million dollars. If you can't afford that then simply keep coming back and forwarding the site to your friends. Maybe Donald Trumpodeaux will make me an offer! Let's be serious now, we all know the Trumpodeaux's never had no big money. I don't make my money as a comedian as you can well see. 


Pepper is hot right? Well, it can be and can't... you know that so here's the point of the subject matter. Let's go to a simple dish of gumbo (again). What type of pepper would you use in a gumbo? Answer: all four. Huh? Okay, we have Bell Pepper (that's a pepper) cayenne pepper, black pepper and Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco (I prefer LHS). Why four you ask? Because each type of pepper abounds from a different source and each has its' place on the tongue (learned that from Leah Chase). Here's what separates true Cajuns and Creoles from the rest. True Cajun/Creole dishes are never really "pepper hot", they are "pepper enhanced". What that means is that the right combination of peppers can take the tongue and make it dance with delight; that takes practice. If your mouth burns or you're sweating because of the heat produced by various peppers then the cook didn't take into consideration the fact that all folks' tongues are not created equal, it makes them mostly feel BIG. You cook a dish with a full flavored body and put the pepper stuff on the table and let them burn themselves to a frazzle if they wish . I want to impress the kids...!

Turkey Time

Oh Lord, the Turkey is going to catch hell again pretty soon... Thanksgiving, Christmas. I'm surprised Turkeys are even around anymore given their sad state of affairs during the season! But, they hang in there and show up when the time is right. Some folks do the "T" bird on both occasions. Let me throw a curve to you newcomers...Rotisserie Turkey. Let me tell you what I did last year. I may have told some you this already but whatever. I did the R.T. and sliced it all up nice and pretty. Put the bones in a pan and added a few coals and a few pieces of pecan wood and smoked the bones for about 3 hours. Nice and brown they were and had a very nice smoked flavor. My next objective (have many of those) was a turkey & oyster gumbo...something about those two that just goes together. Anyway, boiled the bones to make the stock, took the leftover meat and made us a big gumbo. I wish I had a big bowl of it now instead of the tacos I'm fixin' to eat.... I hate it when I do that to myself! 

Bouquet Garni

We're going to step back in time a little here and review an old French seasoning method. The Bouquet Garni  was (and still is) a combination of fresh herbs and/or spices (disputable) either tied together or placed in a cheesecloth bag. Well why not just sprinkle the seasonings from the little jars in my spice cabinet? Years ago they didn't grind seasonings and if they did the store near your house possibly wouldn't have them! Therefore you grew your seasonings. Then, you know that fresh is best right? 

So let's move on... the popular combination used bay leaf, parsley and thyme. There are other combinations (look it up), but, I'm going to assume that the choices were based on spices that you wouldn't want to chew, spoon out of your dish and naturally would season the dish in the way you wanted it by your choice of the herbs or spices.

Power Outage Lights

This has nothing to do with cooking but I can't help to pass on a little household info that might help you. Bear with me. When the lights go out (a common occurrence down here) we're left in the dark right? Unless of course you have an "automatic generator" set up. I don't have that. Here's the deal folks. Sam's Club sells a Sylvania (trusted name in light bulbs) device that is a combination nightlight, power outage light and flashlight. It will be in a display all by itself so you'll have to look for it. There's three lights in a pack for about $20...Here's the link.... click here.

Me to you

I'm going to leave you with this old story/recipe


This writing is from the Mme.(Madame) Begue's (Bag-gay's) recipes of old New Orleans Creole Cookery published in 1937. 

The following is as it is written:

The praline, a crisp candy made from the the kernels of nuts boiled in sugar, has been a distinctive candy of New Orleans from the time of its settlement. In France, the praline was made by cooking almonds in sugar called, "amande rissolée dans du sucre." When Louisiana was settled by the early colonist the housewife substituted the native pecans for the almonds of the mother country. The name praline is derived from that of French army man and diplomat, Ceasar du Plesses-Praslin, later the duc de Choisuel. It was Marshal Praslin who, according to tradition, first ordered his almonds cooked in sugar int the belief that served in this fashion they would not cause indigestion. As Praslin is pronounced "pra-lin," that name was adopted as the name of the candy.

In the old days only brown sugar was used in the making of pralines in New Orleans, Today however, white granulated sugar and cane sirup makes the nutty confection. Into an ordinary aluminum pot pour a cup of sirup (such as Brer Rabbit or similar brand) and three cups of Domino granulated white sugar. A little salt is added. When the sirup and sugar comes to a boil stir in two cups of hulled pecan kernels-halves and broken pieces mixed. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Prepare beforehand long strips of waxed paper and with a large spoon drop the mixture on it in plats or cakes about the size of a small saucer. As they cool and harden, lift up the paper and turn them upside down.

(noticed the spelling of Syrup?) You can get this book from some online book stores. Copy and paste this into your search bar... Mme.Begue's recipes of old New Orleans Creole Cookery. You'll also read about Mme. Begue's history here and might be surprised... click here.


I will wish you all a Great and God filled Thanksgiving and Christmas. I hope for you that these economic hard times don't take the spirit of the season away. My father told me of getting apples and oranges as Christmas gifts.  We're not doing so bad! Thanks you all many times for visiting the site!!! Please pass it on to others....See ya' next year.




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If you've go a subject you'd like me to research, or, you've done a little fact finding yourself, don't hesitate to contact me... this is about us, not me!  Cooking is fun, and, that's what we do here... have fun cooking! 


Till next time... eat well.

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