Organic Cajun Seasoning
Organic Cajun seasoning comes from a style of cooking named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It is what could be called a rustic cuisine; locally available ingredients predominate and preparation is simple.
An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, with one pot dedicated to the main dish, one dedicated to steamed rice, special made sausages, or some seafood dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful or available. Shrimp and pork sausage are staple meats used in a variety of dishes.
The aromatic vegetables green bell pepper (poivron), onion, and celery are called the holy trinity by Cajun chefs in Cajun and Creole cuisines. Roughly diced and combined in cooking, the method is similar to the use of the mirepoix in traditional French cuisine which blends roughly diced onion, celery and carrot. Characteristic aromatics for the Creole version may also include parsley, bay leaf, green onions, dried cayenne pepper, and dried black pepper.
Around 1755, Acadians were forced out of their settlements by the British, and as a result, they migrated in 1755 in what was called le Grand Dérangement, eventually settling in Southern Louisiana. Due to the extreme change in climate, Acadians were unable to cook their original dishes. Soon, their former culinary traditions were lost, and so, these other meals developed to become what is now considered classic Cajun cuisine traditions (not to be confused with the more modern concept associated with Prudhomme’s style). Up through the 20th century, the meals were not elaborate but instead, rather basic. The public’s false perception of “Cajun” cuisine was based on Prudhomme’s style of Cajun cooking, which was spicy, flavorful, and not true to the classic form of the cuisine. Cajun and Creole label have been mistaken to be the same, but the origins of Creole cooking began in New Orleans, and Cajun cooking came 40 years after the establishment of New Orleans down south on the bayou. Today, most restaurants serve dishes that consist of Cajun styles, which Paul Prudhomme dubbed “Louisiana cooking”. In home-cooking, these individual styles are still kept separate. However, there are fewer and fewer people cooking the classic Cajun dishes that would have been eaten by the original settlers.
Cajun cooking methods
- Barbecuing – similar to “slow and low” Southern barbecue traditions, but with Creole / Cajun seasoning.
- Baking – direct and indirect dry heat in a furnace or oven, faster than smoking but slower than grilling.
- Grilling – direct heat on a shallow surface, fastest of all variants; sub-variants include:
- Charbroiling – direct dry heat on a solid surface with wide raised ridges.
- Gridironing – direct dry heat on a solid or hollow surface with narrow raised ridges.
- Griddling – direct dry or moist heat along with the use of oils and butter on a flat surface.
- Braising – combining a direct dry heat charbroil-grill or gridiron-grill with a pot filled with broth for direct moist heat, faster than smoking but slower than regular grilling and baking; time starts fast, slows down, then speeds up again to finish.
- Boiling – as in boiling of crabs, crayfish, or shrimp, in seasoned liquid.
- Deep frying
- Smothering – cooking a vegetable or meat with low heat and small amounts of water or stock, similar to braising. Étouffée is a popular variant done with crayfish or shrimp.
- Pan-broiling or pan-frying.
- Injecting – using a large syringe-type setup to place seasoning deep inside large cuts of meat. This technique is much newer than the others on this list, but very common in Cajun Country
- Stewing, also known as fricassée.
Deep-frying of turkeys or oven-roasted turduckens entered southern Louisiana cuisine more recently. Also, blackening of fish or chicken and barbecuing of shrimp in the shell are excluded because they were not prepared in traditional Cajun cuisine. Blackening was actually an invention by chef Paul Prudhomme in the 1970’s, becoming associated with Cajun cooking, and presented as such by him, but is not a true historical or traditional Cajun cooking process.