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Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana Hardcover – April 21, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307395812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307395818
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If bacon does not immediately come to mind as an essential ingredient of Cajun cooking, then clearly you have been missing Link, the chef-owner of two New Orleans restaurants, Herbsaint and Cochon. He not only begins his premiere cookbook with instructions on making four pounds of homemade bacon, he includes such tempting items as a fried oyster and bacon sandwich, tomato and bacon pie, and catfish fried in bacon fat. Even in his vegetarian twice-baked potatoes, he cannot help mentioning, Normally I like crisp bits of bacon in stuffed potatoes. And where bacon leads, the rest of the pig is sure to follow. A classic boudin recipe is rich in pork liver and shoulder; deer sausage combines venison with pork butt; and a hearty/scary breakfast dish, oreilles de cochon (pig ears), is boudin-stuffed beignets. There is also plenty of crawfish, be it in a crawfish pie, a traditional boil or in a boulette (deep fried balls of crawfish meat and stuffing). A bourbon cherry lemonade or a plate of fresh peach buckle would cleanse the palate nicely, Eighty color photos enhance Link's efforts, as do his brief meditations on crawfish farming, family gatherings and the joys of making a perfect roux. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Donald Link’s book simply makes me hungry the way I used to be around my grandmother’s kitchen down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is more than a chef. He is a southern artist using tradition as a canvas and acquired culinary magic as his box of paints, with which he brings to life masterpieces of southern cuisine that ignite our taste buds as well as reminding us of who we are and where we come from.”
—Jimmy Buffett

“Donald Link’s childhood in Cajun Country taught him that cooking is all about family, local ingredients, and, most important, taste. There's no blackened redfish here, just delicious recipes (think Crispy Softshell Crab with Chili Glaze or Satsuma Buttermilk Pie) and great memories, informed by his wry sense of humor and passion for food and place. Real Cajun is the real deal and proves, once again, that Link is not only the soul of New Orleans but also one of the most talented chefs in the country.”
—Julia Reed

“Donald Link is rediscovering traditional Cajun food in all of its diversity and simplicity. His flavors come from backyard organic vegetables, local fish, and heritage breed pork. The essence of Cochon’s cooking is beautifully revealed in this inviting book.”
—Alice Waters

"Donald Link's cooking embodies the very best–the heart and soul–of New Orleans cuisine; there's no one in the business with more credibility. Real Cajun captures the straight-up, un-cut, raw, and wonderful rustic classics in all their unvarnished, unprettified glory."
—Anthony Bourdain

“Real Cajun tells Donald Link’s captivating story of growing up in southwest Louisiana and shares with us the incredible no-holds-barred type of cooking and eating that Cajuns live for. With great traditions, vivid tales, and passionate cooking from a real Cajun chef, this cookbook will be a treasure for all who turn its pages.”
—Frank Stitt

“Real Cajun
is honest, gutsy, and proudly provincial. Read this book and you'll want to mainline shrimp and crab gumbo. Cook from this book and you'll rationalize an all boudin diet.”
—John T. Edge, general editor of Cornbread Nation

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 80 customer reviews
The fried chicken is perfect.
Jay P. Francis
I loved this cookbook from the great tasting recipes to the pictures and his stories behind the recipes.
I've cooked at least half the recipes from this book and each one is better than the last.
D. Connor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Trepidation on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My sister wanted "a gumbo cookbook;" knowing a few things about Cajun/Creole cooking, I figured I could cover that one.

Visiting a bookstore, I spent a good 20 minutes reading a lot of the recipes and some of the commentary... and I was severely impressed. It makes plain the point that Cajun cooking is far from pretentious, and suggests certain types of paprika and other spices with the assurance that whatever says "paprika" in the grocery store will work fine. There's a lot of very practical advice on basic ideas like roux (and some reasoning for using butter in some cases and oil in others), three really great gumbo recipes, a good jambalaya recipe, even tasso, a simple sausage recipe, and at least three recipes that depend on homemade boudin -- for which he provides what seems to be a pretty good recipe and technique. There is cornbread.

The recipes are great, the text is very honest and... earthy... and the whole thing just exudes "this is what works, it's not that complicated, and this is how to do it." I bought my sister a copy for her birthday (didn't leave myself time to wait for shipping), and after wrapping it, used the web browser in my cell phone to hit Amazon and buy myself a copy -- as well as a cast iron pan, which I've needed for a while, and of which this book makes excellent use.

This is right up there with James Peterson's 'Sauces' in terms of useful culinary references. It's a solid, enthusiastic 5/5.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By RouxBDoo on September 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I won't drag this out, I cook Cajun and Creole foods nearly exclusively. This book is the best in my collection. I met Chef Link in his Butcher establishment and he is quietly friendly, and non-pretentious. So is his book. The recipes are authentic and exciting at the same time. The story of making his grandmother's gumbo, for his family, after her death is indicative of the tone and heart of this book. It is amazing. Chef, you are a culinary treasure.

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By K. Hawkins on February 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love this book. When I read it I really wished that I had a childhood just like Chef Link's, with a grandfather who loved to cook and lots of food-loving extended family.

I made several of the recipes over Thanksgiving and Christmas. They all turned out well, but I do have a few comments.

The very first recipe is for bacon, which I actually made for Christmas presents. I purchased 30 pounds of Kurobuta pork belly and made the recipe exactly as written. The bacon turned out more a lot more salty than I expected. It was delicious in flavoring applications, like soup or greens, but on its own it was too salty to eat more than one slice by itself and this is from someone who LOVES salty food. Next time I think I'll cure for half the stated time and see how it turns out.

Maybe I just picked the recipes that he seemed the most nostalgic about but the recipes I made for Christmas all required extra elements to be made before starting the main recipe. For instance, the "Chocolate Yummy" requires you to make 1) pecan shortbread, 2) chocolate pudding and 3) whipped cream before you assemble your Chocolate Yummy with softened cream cheese and the other three elements. It was totally delicious and worth the effort, but it took me over two hours to make this.

Also, I don't know if Chef Link just has a much hotter stove than I do, but after making two recipes from the book, I automatically started cranking my heat higher than the recipe stated. If he said medium, I went to medium high, if he said medium high, I turned up the gas to full high.

Those things aside, I really enjoy making Chef Link's recipes and the love and care you need to expend making this food is obvious to anyone lucky enough to eat it.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By D. Foss on May 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book was released coincidental with my last visit to New Orleans. Cochon has become my favourite restaurant there... and since my last visit "Butcher" has opened to compliment the already excellent homestyle fare available at Cochon.
Thanks to Chef Link for sharing his excellent heart-warming cuisine with the rest of us! I'm looking forward to digging into this book and creating a little Cajun love up here in Canada!
Probably the best souvenier of my visit to New Orleans yet...
(The recipes are well-written and look like they are simple enough for the home cook. The background family stories are charming and add a very special southern ambience. I would definitely recommend that this book be added to your culinary library... File it under "comfort")
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Donald K. Bulliard on October 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was born and raised in the heart of Cajun Country. St. Martinville, La. This book captures the essence of Real Cajun Cooking just as it's titled. I've been cooking since I was a kid in our commercial kitchen and still do so for a living. Not only a great book, it's a great read!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Madame Magpie on August 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After visiting Cochon and Butcher and having some of the best charcuterie I've ever eaten, I couldn't resist this book.. Wise decision! REAL CAJUN is not only well-written and charming, it is distinctly empowering. I never expected that I might ever consider making my own bacon. I had no idea that it was at all within the realm of possibility of a nonprofessional. Nor did i ever think that I might make my own sausages. I have now persuaded my local WholeFood to GIVE me sausage casings, and I'm ready to go at it. Thank you, Chef Link!

His recipes are rock-solid, and so carefully drawn up that a whole range of well-prepared dishes can be tackled by even a cook just recently introduced to the kitchen. Simple foods become extraordinary - for example his recipe for Post-Katrina Meatloaf is terrific. While I changed breadcrumbs to pancko crumbs (a real improvement), this recipe worked so well because of the careful simplicity with which it was developed. Precooking the veggies, plus the introduction of his beloved bacon turn this recipe from a tired kitchen warhorse into a glorious act of ...cuisine! For those of us who don't live anywhere near New Orleans, a most useful product availability list turned me into someone who's considering a crawfish feast, possibly even featuring crawfish boudin or crawfish sausage homemade from Link's recipes. I didn't know, before reading his cookbook that crawfish and other local Louisiana products could be successfully ordered and sent cross-country.

Chef Link makes his recipes simple, uncluttered and delicious. What a wonderful treat for the whole country! Go for it.
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