Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Eighteen – Louisiana – Crawfish Étouffée

Welcome to week 18 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Louisiana, who joined the union on April 30, 1812.

So here are some fun facts about Louisiana. It is the only state in the union that does not have counties. Their divisions are called parishes. It has the tallest state capitol building in the US; it is 450 feet tall with 34 floors. It was named after King Louis XIV. And it is known as both the Creole and Cajun capitals of the world.

So what better way to celebrate this great food state than with a dish that has variations in both of these food styles ~ Crawfish Étouffée. The history of this dish dates back to the 1950s, with some records indicating it may have been made even as early as the 1920s. It started in the bayous and backwaters of Cajun country and didn’t make it to the larger cities (like New Orleans) until the early 1980s. The story has it that a waiter at a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the dish in to his boss to try. At the time most of the food in New Orleans was French Creole, but when this Cajun dish was introduced, it was an immediate hit. The rest, they say, is history.

The word Étouffée is French and literally translated means “to smother”. Smothering is an actual cooking style in cajun and creole cooking, where found, usually seafood, is cooked at a simmer in a small amount of liquid for a long time. This dish sort of does that, although it really starts with a roux and then cooks out vegetables with liquid to form a gravy. It is only at the end that the crawfish is added.

In looking for a recipe to try, I found there were hundreds of versions, although all used the same slow browning method to form the roux. This is a critical step in the dish, so don’t rush it. Some versions brown out the roux to a deep mahogany color, while others keep it much lighter to the color of peanut butter. I opted for the lighter color version, both for time and flavor.

This recipe is from the famous New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse. I really liked it, but now looking at my ingredient list, I am thinking that it would have been better if it had been “kicked up a notch”. Although it contains cayenne pepper, I think it would be even better if it had some more authentic Cajun or Creole seasoning. Something to work through on a future occasion! Regardless, I give this one a solid A, and even Josh thought it was really good. I will make this one again.

Enjoy, and see you next week in Indiana!

 

Crawfish Etoufee
Crawfish Etoufee

Crawfish Étouffée

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups seafood stock (if you can’t find, substitute chicken stock)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Cayenne, as needed (I added about 3/4 tsp)
Smoked paprika, as needed (I added about 3/4 tsp)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound crawfish tails

Directions

First, you make a roux. In a Dutch oven, add the butter over medium-high heat and melt. Add the flour and whisk until combined and there are no lumps in the flour. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flour mixture browns to the color of peanut butter, 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure to stir continuously and do not allow the mixture to burn. If you notice little black specks, discard the roux and start over.

Once the roux is sufficiently dark, add the garlic, celery, onion and bell pepper and stir. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the seafood stock and bring to a simmer. Add the parsley, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves and some cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the crawfish tails and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Serve over rice.

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Seventeen – Ohio – Cincinnati Chili

Welcome to week 17 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Ohio, who joined the union on… well, that seems to be a bit complicated.

Without making it too long winded, this is what I learned. During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Congress passed an act (The Enabling Act of 1802) that allowed the citizens of a territory to form a state constitution, which was a requirement for recognition by the federal government to be formally admitted as a state.

On November 29, 1802 (the first date), the Ohio Constitutional Convention completed their state constitution, and quickly submitted it to Congress, forgetting the important step of having it approved by the voters for approval. Congress ignored this important step and simply admitted the state of Ohio on February 19, 1803 (the second date). Ten days later, on March 1, 1803 (date #3), the first general assembly of the new state convened, with Edward Tiffin already elected by a vote as the new governor.

Because so much happened that was actually outside true laws of the time, Ohio was left with several dates, all of which had merit, but none had complete consensus. It was mostly overlooked for the rest of the century, and not until the state approached its centennial did it really heat up. The debate continued, unresolved until August of 1953, when Congress approved a joint resolution that rectified its earlier errors and omissions. It also made the action retroactive, which kept Ohio as the 17th state rather than the 48th. It was mutually decided by Congress and the Ohio legislature that March 1st, 1803 would be the recognized date, which satisfied most, but not all Ohioans. But they all agree that Ohio did become a state during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

Wow, what an interesting piece of history. Again, I have learned something about US history that I never knew. And I guess that even my “short” version is a bit of a lengthy tale.

On to food! Although Ohio may have a lot of statehood lore, finding a new recipe from the state was rather simple. What I decided on was Cincinnati Chili.

The story of this dish originated with immigrant restaurateurs from the Macedonian region who were trying to expand their customer base by moving beyond narrowly ethnic styles of cuisine. The chili was originally concocted as a topping for hot dogs, and later expanded into a dinner dish that was served over spaghetti. Some people unfamiliar with the name are often surprised when they are given a meal that looks like spaghetti with meat sauce, but the intense spice flavors make it very non-Italian. I also discovered that there are “ways” that this dish is served, and the most popular restaurants that serve this dish all have a similar methodology. The first thing I thought of was Waffle House and how they have smothered, covered, etc as ordering methods for their home fries. Similarly, Cincinnati Chili has its own 3-way, 4-way and 5-way versions. All start the same way with spaghetti and chili. The 3-way version includes a mound of cheddar cheese. The 4-way is cheese and onions or beans. The 5-way is cheese, onions and beans. Pretty simple.

I decided to have mine 5-way. And I have to say, this was really good. I like the interesting spices in this dish. The addition of cocoa give the dish a deep hardiness, and the allspice, cinnamon and clove add a sweetness and exotic flavor to it. With a little prep, the whole dish comes together in about 1 ½ hours. I give it a solid A, and wouldn’t change anything in this version from Skyline Chili.

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Cincinnati Chili

Enjoy! And see you next week in Louisiana!

Recipe for Cincinnati Chili (from The Zone Magazine)

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef stock
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 oz. grated, unsweetened chocolate OR 2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp bay leaf powder or 1 bay leaf

Instructions:

Brown the ground beef and onion; then drain.
Add beef stock and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and allow chili to simmer, uncovered for 1 hour.
Remove the bay leaf and skim off the fat.

Serve over:
Spaghetti noodles

Optional Toppings:
chopped onions
finely shredded cheddar cheese
kidney beans
oyster crackers

 

 

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Sixteen – Tennessee – Nashville Hot Chicken and Tennessee Peach Pudding

50 States of New Recipe Tuesday - Tenessee

Welcome to week 16 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Tennessee, who joined the union on June 1st, 1796.

What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and later part of the Southwest Territory. It was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861. Occupied by Union forces from 1862, it was the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.

More interesting, at least to me, is the importance that this state has played on American music. The roots of rockabilly, blues, country and even rock ‘n roll can be found in its two major cities, Memphis and Nashville. It is home to Graceland, Dollywood and the Grand Ole Opry. For its size, it packs a huge musical punch!

But we are exploring food here! So off I went in search of what dishes make this state stand out. And what I found was that they love Hot Chicken. Not in the sense of heat, but spice. It is generally accepted that the originator of hot chicken is the family of Andre Prince Jeffries, owner of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. Jeffries says the development of hot chicken was an accident. Her great-uncle Thornton was purportedly a womanizer, and after a particularly late night out, his girlfriend at the time cooked him a fried chicken breakfast with extra pepper as revenge. Thornton liked it so much that by the mid-1930s, he and his brothers had created their own recipe and the rest they say, is history.

The dish is made by brining chicken in a hot sauce brine, then frying it. And then a hot cayenne pepper oil is brushed on to give it real heat. It is spicy, I will give you that. I cooked mine in my new deep fryer, and since this is the first time I have ever fried chicken, I would say that I need to work on it more than the recipe. I think I over cooked the chicken a bit, but it was still crispy coated and I generally liked it. I can’t say that I loved it though. Perhaps if I ever make it to Nashville, I will give theirs a try. The recipe is below.

And of course, it seems that I can’t do just one recipe from a state, so I also decided to try another one! I stumbled upon a dessert recipe that calls itself Tennessee Peach Pudding. I searched high and low to try to determine its origin, but found nothing more than that it appeared under that name in a magazine, with no explanation as to why it was called that. Nonetheless, I decided it looked yummy and gave it a try. I would describe this as a peach cobbler that has been “gooey-ed”. After making the batter with the fruit, you then make a sort of simple syrup and pour that over everything before baking. The magic of the oven raises the batter to the top and forms a crust and the peaches get all soft and pudding like. Since peaches are not in season, I used frozen ones and they worked beautifully. I give this one an A+, and I don’t care if I ever find out why its named after Tennessee. I just know that it was simple and really delicious!

50 States of New Recipe Tuesday - Tennessee
Nashville Hot Chicken and Tennessee Peach Pudding

Here are the two recipes:

Tennessee Hot Chicken (adapted from Epicurious)

BRINE

2 quarts water
1/2 cup hot sauce
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) whole chicken, quartered

COATING

3 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Whisk water, hot sauce, salt, and sugar in large bowl until salt and sugar dissolve. Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add cayenne, paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to small bowl.

IMG_1506
Spicy oil

Remove chicken from refrigerator and pour off brine. Combine flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl. Dredge chicken pieces 2 at a time in flour mixture. Shake excess flour from chicken and transfer to wire rack. (Do not discard seasoned flour)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat remaining oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees (or use a deep fryer). Return chicken pieces to flour mixture and turn to coat. Fry half of chicken, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature between 300 and 325 degrees, until deep golden brown and white meat registers 160 degrees (175 degrees for dark meat), 20 to 25 minutes. Drain chicken on clean wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Bring oil back to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.

Stir spicy oil mixture to recombine and brush over both sides of chicken.

Serve on white bread with pickles.

50 States of New Recipe Tuesday - Tenessee
Nashville Hot Chicken

 

Tennessee Peach Pudding (adapted from Taste of Home)

Filling:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup milk
3 cups sliced, peeled fresh or frozen peaches

Topping:
1 ½ cups water
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
¼ tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the milk until just combined. Fold in the peaches. Spread in a greased 8 inch pan.

IMG_1499
Peach batter

In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugars, butter, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugars are dissolved.

Pour over the top of the peach mixture.

IMG_1505
The whole dish will look very wet. Don’t worry, the magic happens in the oven!

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until filling is bubbling and a toothpick inserted in the topping comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream and/or ice cream.

IMG_0943

Tennessee Peach Pudding

Enjoy! See you next week in Ohio!

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Fifteen – Kentucky

Welcome to week 15 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the Commonwealth of Kentucky, who joined the union on June 1st, 1792.

At one time, Kentucky was actually part of Virginia. In 1776, the counties of Virginia that were west of the Appalachian Mountains were known as Kentucky County, although no one knows for sure where the name came from. It may have been derived from Indian words for ‘on the meadow’ or ‘on the prairie’. Later, the area petitioned to succeed from Virginia, and eventually it became its own state.

An interesting fact about Kentucky is that it has a non contiguous part known as Kentucky Bend. It is completely surrounded by Missouri and Tennessee. It was formed as a result of a surveying error, and this tiny little piece of land is home to less than 20 people.

Most people know several things about Kentucky. It is nicknamed the Bluegrass state, because of the bluegrass that grows in many of its pastures. It is home to the Kentucky Derby. It is home to Kentucky Fried Chicken. And it is the home of Bourbon.

And none of those things went into my dinner tonight! I thought about trying some sort of bourbon recipe, but nothing appealed to me. The only thing I could find related to the Kentucky Derby was Derby pie and I didn’t want to do a dessert. I really didn’t want to recreate KFC. But what I did find was a very famous dish, called the Kentucky Hot Brown.

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Kentucky Hot Brown

The story behind this sandwich begins in the 1920s at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. The hotel regularly hosted dinner dances, which would run well into the wee hours of the morning. Guests would gain a late appetite and head into the hotel’s restaurant for something to eat. The head chef, Fred Schmidt decided to upscale the standard ham and eggs, and created a hot opened face sandwich with turkey, bacon and Mornay sauce.

This sandwich is so famous that it has appeared on Man vs. Food, Throw Down with Bobby Flay, The Today Show, as well as the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Southern Living. Impressive.

For being such a prestigious sandwich, it was really easy to make. I used a fresh loaf of country bread and sliced it into thick slices. The original recipe called for Texas Toast. The original also used a massive amount of heavy cream to make the Mornay sauce (which is a Bernaise with cheese added). I opted for a more traditional milk base, which I don’t think affects the total dish at all. I also halved it, because I just didn’t need 4 cups of sauce! And because I got a new deep fryer for Christmas, AND I bought myself a really nice new knife today (a vegetable cleaver), I made homemade fries to go with it. Yum.

Overall, this was really tasty. Josh thought it was like a turkey alfredo sandwich. Good description. It is warm, creamy and very filling. I join the rest of the world and give this a solid A.

Recipe for Kentucky Hot Brown
(Adapted from the original at www.brownhotel.com/dining-hot-brown)

For the Mornay Sauce:

¼ cup butter
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups milk
¼ cup (2-oz.) shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (plus a little more for the sandwich top)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

For the Hot Brown sandwich:

14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
4 slices of thick sliced country bread or Texas toast (crusts trimmed), lightly toasted
4 slices of bacon
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
Prepared Mornay Sauce
Paprika
Parsley

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 oz. turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

And see you next week in Tennessee!