Tag Archives: emeril

Kids in the Kitchen: Cajun ‘Gator Tail and Dirty Rice

Yes, you read that right. ‘Gator tail. Brandan reaches for the stars when it comes to creative choices for dinner. I thought I had a source for ‘gator tail too – I saw a vendor at the Firewheel Four Seasons Farmers Market a few weeks ago selling all sorts of Gulf seafood, including alligator tail. However, when we arrived this morning, that vendor was nowhere to be found. Brandan and I made plans to come up with an alternative solution – we planned to visit a fish market and find some sort of seafood.

Later in the day, Brandan, my husband, and I visited Captain Dave’s Seafood Market in Plano and looked around. We had nearly decided on crab legs when lo and behold, my husband noticed that ‘gator tail was on their board. I inquired, and they had some in stock! We happily purchased it and hurried home to start our meal, which also included grilled corn and dirty rice.

Just for a bit of background, alligator tail, or ‘gator, is an exotic meat/seafood enjoyed around the Gulf coast of North America, in states such as Louisiana and Florida. Its flavor is mild (as that saying goes, it tastes kind of like chicken), and its texture is somewhat firmer and chewier than chicken or fish. It’s not something you’ll find an a regular grocery, although I’ve seen a few places where you can order it online. Before we cooked it tonight, I’d only eaten it in restaurants, and only deep-fried. (Way back in my pre-gluten-free days, of course) This was an adventure for all of us.

To keep with our Cajun theme, we opted for dirty rice. Dirty rice is a Cajun rice dish, somewhat similar to a pilaf, that traditionally has chicken livers or giblets cooked with it, giving it a dark or “dirty” appearance. While I love chicken livers, I didn’t have any on hand, so we opted to make a simpler version that still was packed with Cajun spices and flavor. I found some lovely pork sausage from Truth Hill Farm, a local farm with grass-fed beef, pork, dairy, and free range chickens laying healthy, farm-fresh eggs. It was a perfect ingredient for our rice.

When contemplating Cajun or Creole spices, who better to use as a reference than Emeril? It had been a long while since I made any of his Essence, so we took this opportunity to make some. It’s a great go-to spice mix, perfect for seasoning everything from chicken to seafood to gumbos or rice dishes. We used it for both our dirty rice and for the ‘gator – it was a great way to streamline the cooking process. When you’re cooking with a very energetic child, this is definitely a plus.  

The gator was simply seasoned with the Essence and grilled – much simpler than going through the process of frying, and Brandan and I both love to use the grill any opportunity we get. Since we had the grill going, we also wrapped some fresh corn on the cob in foil, seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. With the dirty rice, this rounded out a great meal that everyone enjoyed. Only Matt wasn’t fond of the ‘gator tail – the rest of us thought it was pretty tasty. And the dirty rice was a winner with everyone – it might have to become something we make on a regular basis. (My only thought for improvement would be to swap out the white rice for brown, just because I love the texture of brown rice, and of course, it’s heartier and healthier.) Another adventure with Brandan in the kitchen was a success!

 

Dirty Rice 

1 c yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

1 small bell pepper, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

½ lb loose pork sausage

1 T Essence

2 c long-grain white rice

3 c chicken stock or water

2 bay leaves

 Place the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor and process until no large chunks remain. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, brown and crumble the pork sausage over medium heat. When browned, add the mixture from the food processor and sauté for another minute or two. Add the Essence and rice and stir. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Remove bay leaves. Fluff, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Grilled Alligator Tail

 3 lbs alligator tail, cut into 3 oz pieces

1/4-1/2 c Essence

Season ‘gator tail pieces with Essence. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place ‘gator tail on oiled grates and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until gator tail is firm and opaque.

 Serves 6.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork, Rice, Seafood

Kids In The Kitchen: Seafood Gumbo

Brandan immediately decided he wanted to make squid for his turn in the kitchen. Squid? Okay, but I have little experience with squid. I suggested calamari, but he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so we simply started to google “squid recipes”. I came across a gumbo recipe, and before I even read through it, he really wanted to make gumbo with squid. The decision was made. Only then did I thoroughly read through the recipe, and decided it was not a good recipe to follow. And then I started wondering whether squid was ever used in gumbo in the first place – I can’t think of a single Cajun or Creole dish that uses squid. I would have to improvise to make this work.

I have not made many gumbos in my life. There is one gumbo that is routinely made in our household – Emeril Lagasse’s Turkey Gumbo Ya-Ya. It’s awesome. And it’s not something I usually make – this is my husband’s signature dish, made only around the holidays. But I figured, if Emeril has come through for us in this dish, and others, such as my Shrimp Etouffee, why not here? I found a Seafood Gumbo recipe, and started from there, changing it up to accomodate a gluten-free diet, to include squid, and to simplify it somewhat, so that a 13-year-old boy could tackle it. (Gumbo is a long process!)

It was a success – even Brittany, who upon seeing the squid uttered “Eww, gross!”, loved her gumbo. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend squid in a gumbo, as it doesn’t really add much to the dish (the flavor of squid is subtle, and was somewhat lost in the heat of the gumbo broth), it certainly didn’t detract from it either.  Adding it at the last minute rendered the squid tender, not rubbery – a fear I had when composing this dish. Brandan, of course, had two bowlfuls. We might consider keeping a version of this dish on the menu, sans the squid and expensive crab. I imagine a cheaper, but no less delicious, version could include some smoked sausage or andouille, plus double the shrimp. Regardless of the proteins included, this was a filling and warming dish.

Now, I promise you, the next post will not be a soup. I am beginning to feel like this blog should be re-named “Tasty Soups At Home.” Perhaps a bit of variety is needed, no?

 

Seafood Gumbo, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/2 c canola oil

¼ c sorghum flour

¼ c sweet rice flour

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 c white wine

4 cups vegetable broth

1 8-oz bottle clam juice

1 bay leaf

¼ t dried thyme

½ -1 T salt

½ t cayenne pepper

2 t Worcestershire sauce

1 lb frozen shrimp

1 cup fresh crabmeat

1 lb squid, sliced thinly

¼ c fresh chopped parsley

¼ c chopped green onion tops

White rice, for serving

Place a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow to heat for about 5 minutes, and add in the flours. Stir for 20-25 minutes until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper and stir to blend. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring, then add the garlic. Cool the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the wine, vegetable stock, and clam juice. Add the bay leaf, thyme, salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If a good deal of oil or scum rises to the surface, skim it off.

Season the shrimp, crab, and squid with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the crab and squid to the pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Taste the gumbo and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Garnish with parsley and green onions and serve with rice.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Seafood, Soups

Kids in the Kitchen: Spaghetti Carbonara (Gluten-Free, of course!)

Matt loves pasta. Spaghetti, lasagna, and macaroni and cheese? These three dishes alone could make this boy happy for a long, long time. Italy was his country of choice this time around, which, naturally, pleased Matt. We discussed various Italian dishes, both pasta and non-pasta, but the mention of bacon and spaghetti – two of his favorite things in the world – made spaghetti carbonara the choice for dinner tonight.

Truth be told, spaghetti carbonara is not among my favorite Italian dishes. It’s a bit on the rich and heavy side, in my opinion. As this was the case, I have not made spaghetti carbonara prior to this evening. Nevertheless, I sought out a recipe that was sure to please. Emeril saved the day! (Every Emeril Lagasse recipe I have followed has turned out beautifully!) I followed the original recipe pretty closely – it’s relatively straightforward and simple – and it was pretty darn tasty, if I do say so.

Not one piece of shell was dropped in the eggs!

Matt enjoyed it a great deal. Of course, eggs, bacon, cheese, and spaghetti – what’s not to like?

Gluten-Free Spaghetti Carbonara, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/2 lb bacon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 T chopped garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb gluten-free spaghetti, cooked until al dente (I used Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice Spaghetti)

4 large eggs, beaten

Salt to taste

1 c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 T chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large saute pan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove bacon with slotted spoon or spatula and allow to drain on paper towels. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, and season with pepper. Add back the bacon and pasta and saute for 1 minute. Season the eggs with salt. Remove the pan from heat and add eggs, stirring quickly, until eggs thicken but do not scramble. Add the cheese and taste; adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley. Serves 4 generously.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta, Pork, Quick and Easy

Shrimp Etouffee

food-9451This past weekend, I was digging through my Emeril Lagasse cookbooks and found a perfect weeknight recipe to celebrate Fat Tuesday. I shopped and bought the ingredients so I could prepare it, and was excited. And then I was sick Monday and Tuesday, making a Fat Tuesday etouffee celebration out of the question. So here we are, post-Mardi Gras, with a Creole dish. Good thing I could eat this stuff all the time! As always, Emeril’s recipes deliver. Flavorful, with a bit of heat. I made it as written, only halved the recipe, and minced the onion, bell pepper, and celery, as I like to taste the blend of those vegetables a bit more, rather than tasting each individual veggie, as you would if they were chopped. They meld together so well for a beautiful sauce. I also made steamed brown rice for a bit of fiber. Yummy!

¾ stick of butter (6 T)

2 c onion, minced

1 c bell pepper, minced

1 c celery, minced

1 t minced garlic

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 t salt

¼ t cayenne

1 T flour

1 c water

3 T chopped parsley

¼ c chopped green onion

 

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the shrimp, salt, and cayenne and cook for 4 minutes, or until shrimp turn pink.

 

Dissolve flour into the water and add to the shrimp mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and green onion. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Serve over steamed rice.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Seafood

Red Beans and Rice

food-7151 When my husband John and I were early in our relationship, we took our first “weekend trip” to New Orleans. (This was years before the Katrina disaster.) New Orleans was an incredible place, especially when it comes to food, and I fell in love with Cajun and Creole cuisine at that point. Red beans and rice was something I particularly wished to recreate. Creamy, spicy, smoky, delicious comfort food, and it was cheap to make! The following recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s book, Louisiana Real and Rustic. (because when you want Cajun or Creole food, who better to ask than Emeril? Okay, maybe Justin Wilson, but I don’t have his books…) I reduced the amount of ham by half, and used andouille sausage instead of regular smoked sausage. (I had some left over from another wonderful Emeril recipe, Emeril’s Gumbo Turkey Ya-Ya. This is John’s specialty dish he makes every Thanksgiving holiday. This year, we even made it for Christmas Eve. Want to make it? You can see a copy of the recipe here: http://www.emerils.com/recipe/1181/Gumbo-Turkey-Ya-ya ) This is wonderful served over steamed rice. If you like a bit more spice, a dash or two of Tabasco does nicely.

2 T vegetable oil (or bacon grease)

1 c chopped onion

½ c chopped bell pepper

½ c chopped celery

1 t salt

½ t cayenne

¼ t ground black pepper

½ t fresh thyme leaves

4 bay leaves

½ lb chopped ham

½ lb andouille sausage, chopped (can substitute smoked sausage)

1 lb dried red beans, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained

3 T chopped garlic

8-10 c water

Steamed rice

 

 

Heat oil or bacon grease in stockpot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper, and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham, and sausage and sauté for 5-6 minutes more. Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add more water if the mixture becomes too dry or thick.

 

Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to mash about half of the mixture against the side of the pot. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 ½ hours, or until the mixture is creamy and the beans are soft. Add more water if it becomes too thick. The mixture should be soupy, but not watery.

 

Remove the bay leaves and serve over steamed rice.

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Filed under Beans, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Rice