Blog of an aspiring foodie

Emeril's not so bad – maybe even an inspiration? (BACKPOST)

Posted by beer_chris on 12-August-2004

I don't really like Emeril Lagasse that much. Don't really know why, nothing personal I guess. I'm like that with some celebrities. Something about them sometimes rubs me the wrong way, and then I personally don't like them. It's not really fair I guess, to judge someone personally by their public image, but I fall into the same trap of most other people and do it anyway. When my parents bought me his most famous cookbook on a trip to New Orleans a few years ago, it took me a few years just to pick it up off the shelf. I think I even had the nerve to frown at it when my Mom handed it to me. I'm not generally ungrateful, but my unjustified dislike of celebrities can sometimes get the better of me. Emeril's New New Orleans Cookbook. I didn't even like the name, as if some Yankee from up east that moved to New Orleans could somehow take over its cuisine.

In reality, New Orleans cuisine is all about external influences merging with local specialities, so Emeril was doing nothing new. My problem was that he seemed more flash then substance – I mean how could a guy trying to have a variety cooking show and launch a sitcom based on cooking ever have the time to develop real recipes?

Well, regardless of how I feel about the image, Emeril the man does a fine job of merging modern cuisine with cajun specialities, at least in my uninformed opinion. His couscous jambalaya was the inspiration for my Houston jambalaya (the recipe below, a huge hit at a family dinner). Tonight I made his Big Easy seafood gumbo for the second time, mainly to use up the last of the crab stock Brendan gave me. Perhaps in a way trying to mock his expertise, I made a bunch of substitutions, even using Prego instead of tomatoes. It came out OK, but probably will be better tomorrow, just like the last batch was when I made it a few months ago.

I've been into cajun food since I got back from Baton Rouge last week. Last night at my parents my Mom made a jambalaya (not Houston jambalaya, but good), and I made boudin balls using boudin sausage I bought at the Boudin Shop, exit 115 about 20 miles west of Baton Rouge. The place was recommended by chowhound.com, and boy did it live up to the billing. The boudin was good, but not as good as the hot fresh crawfish boudin balls I had at the place off I-10.

Anyway, I decided to make Emeril's gumbo again, and it's allright. I'm even starting to like his 'cajun seasoning', for which he provides the recipe in his cookbook. I bought a shaker of it for the first batch, and really haven't used it but once since. I still like Tony Cacherie's better.

The following is my recipe for Houston Jambalaya, the first recipe and inspiration for my so-called cuisine d'Houston. I stole/was inspired by Emeril with this one 🙂

Houston Jambalaya

Inspired by Emeril's couscous jambalaya, p 246 of Emeril's cookbook “Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking”

1 chicken breast
3\4 c chicken broth
1\2-1 lb venison
1 fat link of chorizo (1/4 lb)
2 stalks of celery
1\4 onion
1\4 green pepper
1\2 poblano pepper
1 shallot
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 c couscous
1/4-1/2 tsp poblano seeds (to taste)
1 tsp salt
1 c chicken broth
1 heaping tbsp Emeril's cajun seasoning or other cajun seasoning (Zataran's, Tony Cacherie's, Tex-Joy, etc)

1. Mince shallot and garlic
2. Dice all other veggies
3. Cut all meat into 1/4-1/2″ cubes
4. In a large bowl, add seasoning to meat(s) and combine with hands
5. Melt 1 tbsp butter over med-high heat
6. When butter begins to foam, add chorizo
7. Stir and cook until Chorizo/butter mixture is smooth and chorizo has completely rendered – lower heat to medium
8. Add meat, sear on all sides (2 minutes)
9. Empty pan into a bowl (including drippings)
10. Add 2 tbsp butter, melt over medium high until foaming
11. Reduce heat to medium, add vegetable base
12. Stir and cook until onions and celery are translucent and aroma is noticeable
13. Add meat and drippings, stir to combine
14. Add chicken broth and 5 turns black pepper, combine well
15. Bring to a boil, cover and lightly simmer for 10 minutes
16. Add couscous, turn off heat, stir well
17. Cover for 5 minutes to allow couscous to absorb moisture
18. Add salt, pepper & hot sauce to taste

The chorizo and the couscous are the secret!

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