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Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen Hardcover – April 17, 1984
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Anyone looking for a primer on Cajun cooking need look no farther. Chef Paul takes the reader by the hand and opens up a world that includes four kinds of roux, Jalapeno and Cheese Rolls, Shrimp Étouffée, and the to-die-for Cajun Meatloaf. Good old-fashioned Red Beans and Rice and Sweet Potato Pecan Pie are not forgotten either.
Chef Paul tested all of his recipes in a home kitchen using common culinary tools--no professional equipment needed here. These are recipes that are high in spice, so remember to have a large vat of water on hand! --Schuyler Ingle
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Many other reviewers have stated this, but it can't be said enough - follow the directions exactly, no matter how incredulous you may be (and on some recipes you will be). It always works out. THAT SAID, there are a few recipes that to my tastes (and probably 99% of other people on this Earth) that have far too much oil. I noted them - well, at least the ones I've tried - at the bottom of my review.
Although I grew up in New Orleans and continue to live there, my parents passed no cooking skills on to me worth mentioning, as they, like most New Orleanians who are not professional cooks, only knew how to make a few things well and never wrote anything down. After a few years of being unsuccessful learning to cook from books that were not meant for learners, I finally bought this one in the early 1990's. This book will teach you how to cook, so long as you let it. Follow the directions. No substitutions. The amount of work that went into testing these recipes must have been daunting, especially with regard to seasoning.
This book isn't just for Gulf South dwellers. There are a great many recipes here that can be made anywhere in the world; for the seafood oriented ones, you're probably out of luck.
Another note: please do use parboiled rice in Louisiana dishes. Stop calling it "processed" - it isn't any more processed than any other rice. All it means is that the husk has been blown off with steam rather than mechanical threshing. It retains the bran this way and the grains make perfect al dente rice. I personally like Zatarain's, but any will do.
Some of my personal favorites -
Crawfish Etoufée - this version is made with roux, which is not a common way to make it in New Orleans. It's one of those you think couldn't possibly turn out right, but it is sublime. This was my favorite dish in the world as a child and continues to be in my top ten! This is the best version I've ever tasted.
Turtle Soup - One of the best recipes in this book, and the best turtle soup I've ever had (and I've eaten plenty of turtle soups around town).
Shrimp Diane - shrimp and butter with mushrooms. Delicious over pasta.
Barbecued Shrimp - Whole, head on shrimp broiled in butter with black pepper, rosemary, etc. Remember to snip the antennae, eyes and horn off the shrimp's face before cooking them. The antennae will make a gross mess in your pot. You're welcome for this advice. Don't eat this more than once a year if you want to live past 40. This is one of the best versions I've ever had.
Shrimp, Chicken or Rabbit Sauce Piquant - VERY hot. If you can eat very spicy Asian food, you will be fine with it. If you want to make a less hot version, make shrimp creole instead.
Seafood Stuffed Shrimp - A royal pain to make, but worth it! I like to make this with his Shrimp and Crabmeat butter cream sauce.
Cajun Prime Rib
Chicken Curry - doesn't taste anything like an proper Asian curry, but is delicious anyway. This has actually been a traditional New Orleans dish for a long time, although out of fashion now, it was very popular in the 1940's - 1970's. Made with a great deal of butter and fruit (raisins, apples, coconut and bananas here) and very spicy.
Corn Maque Choux - this is a delicious version which is sweet. It isn't commonly made like this in Louisiana, but I like this one better than the normal, savory way with tomatoes.
Potato Salad/Green Onion Salad Dressing - I'm not kidding. Make this.
Gumbos - all of them. Especially Seafood, but all of them are excellent.
Jambalaya - all of them, except the ones where he wants to put oysters in them. No one puts oysters in jambalaya down here, and I find it very weird and off putting, and I don't think it really works. Just my opinion.
Roast Pork Loin - GOD
Now for some of the ones I don't care for, or rather just don't work for me. The big man, as much as I love him, has Cajunified these particular New Orleans classics with too much oil -
Stuffed Merliton - this version is somewhat greasy and I don't think the sauce does much for it. The merlitons (chayote squash) Americans find in the store are about 1/4 the size of the ones grown here, which also have spiny, husky skins which stuff well. The store bought ones from Central America aren't big enough, so don't try them.That said you can make a casserole version of this with them, but there are better recipes.
Red Beans and Rice - way too greasy with those ham hocks. The seasoning is just right though. You could make this same recipe, except sautéing the trinity with seasoning first, then adding to the pot of boiling water (better: ham stock) with a smoked ham shank. Do away with the ham hocks and use a equal amount of pickled pork shoulder meat as you do beans. Pickled pork is a must in red beans for most New Orleanians.
Oyster Dressing - too much oil! Yikes.
Chicken Big Mamou (not a New Orleans dish) - too much butter again.
The book includes a wide variety of entree's such as seafood (obviously), chicken, beef, rabbit, sausage and pork as well as desserts, appetizers, breads and soups/gumbos. Many of the recipes also include instructions on proper presentation of the dish, how to garnish the items, etc. which is wonderful when hosting guests.
For those who live inland, it may be hard to come by certain seafood items. Although I live relatively close to the coast, it is still a 2-hour drive, thus I have had many issues with trying to obtain certain ingredients. Through trial and error, I have substituted crawfish recipes by using shrimp instead, which has always worked decently. Another issue I have encountered is obtaining the ingredients necessary to make a proper seafood stock, (yes, for those unfamiliar with Cajun cuisine it may sound odd boiling shrimp or fish heads but the book explains its purpose and why it is necessary). It's easy to purchase fully intact fish at a local grocery store however, a fully intact shrimp is not as easy to come by. I have found that if you drive to a fishing area or marina (I go to the DC Warf) and look around or ask if you can have just the heads of the shrimp (they typically throw them away anyway), you may get lucky. I have also found that when I have frequented these places, the people don't mind and will many times give me the heads for free.
Although majority of the recipes are complex, as well as time consuming, the chef also includes chapters that provide step-by-step instructions and pictures which explain how and why certain steps are necessary.
Again, this book is a must have for anyone who enjoys the art of cooking and eating amazing food. It also makes for a great gift.
The gumbos are a great treat for any one person who can follow directions, and in return they are gifted with the knowledge of basic gumbo technique.
Chef Paul teaches in this book how to make a roux. A roux is the a very important part of Cajun cooking. This book teaches that method.
Top international reviews
It is interesting to see the Southern French roots in many of the dishes, and many similar recipes can be found in Basque cookbooks.
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dishes I had in his restaurant twenty five years after this book was written. This alone shows his recipes have staying power.