Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cajun Cooking at it's Finest: Part I

    For sometime now, I have been wanting to dabble in Cajun cooking. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cajun influenced food, it is a style of cooking created by the French immigrants of Louisiana (or Cajun People). Such dishes from this region are jambalaya, red beans and rice, étouffée, and perhaps the most commonly known, gumbo.
   Now, like most regions of the world, the flavor profile of the food that they eat usually comes from local ingredients. Most, but not all recipes from this particular region, contain a specific ingredient that was impossible to find here in Canada (or at least in the multitude of places I searched anyway). This super special ingredient was Andouille Sausage.
    Andouille Sausage is a heavily smoked pork sausage. It is made with either the butt or shank of the pig along with a fair amount of the fat, and flavored mainly with salt, cracked black pepper, garlic, onion, and smoked with either pecan or hickory wood chips. The sausage is super spicy and is sometimes referred to as "hot links".
    I couldn't make my own at home because I currently do not possess the equipment to make sausages, so my desire to make Cajun food was on hold until I could either find, or make some Andouille somewhere else. My wait is finally over. I am currently visiting my parents in Newfoundland, and lucky for me, they happen to have all the necessities for sausage making.
    So I rounded up all (except for two) ingredients. (The super small grocery store that they have here didn't carry a couple of the spices, but I made do without them. I figure when I get home I will find the ingredients there. When the time comes to make a dish with the sausages, I will add the two ingredients then). And then I set out on a mission to make my very own, homemade Andouille Sausage.
    Since I had been obsessed with this idea for a while now, I had already chosen the perfect sausage recipe. I chose to use an "authentic" Andouille Sausage recipe by none other than the King of Cajun Cooking himself, Emeril Lagasse. I am super impressed with the end product. They are so juicy and have so much flavor.

Andouille Sausage Recipe
(I doubled the original recipe. The recipe below will create 28 x 6" links)

After creating my sausage links, they are ready to
be smoked with the delicious flavor of hickory.
5 lbs. boneless pork butt
1 lb. pound pork fat, cut into pieces
1 recipe Emeril's Creole Seasoning (aka. Bayou Blast)
4 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. file powder (This is a powder made from ground sassafras leaves, with a mild root beer flavor. It is traditionally used as a winter thickener for gumbo. It was impossible to find, so I ended up leaving it out.)
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin

(1) Dice pork into 1/2 inch cubes.
(2) Combine the pork, pork fat, Creole Seasoning, paprika, garlic, black pepper, salt, file, chili powder, red pepper, and cumin and minced garlic in a large bowl and using your hands, mix well.

(3) Pass through a meat grinder fitted with a coarse die. (Alternately, transfer in 2 batches to a food processor and process until finely ground.)
The KichenAid Mixer, once fitted with a
meat grinder attachment becomes top heavy.
If using this attachment you will need to brace
the base of the mixer to keep it from tipping
into the bowl ground meat.
(4) Transfer to a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
(5) To test the seasoning, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small skillet, and cook about 2 tspfulls of the meat mixture. Adjust seasoning, to taste.
(6) Using a sausage stuffer, stuff the meat into the casings, if you choose to use them. Twist and tie off to make 6 inch sausages. (Emeril suggests if you can't find casings, or just don't wish to use them, shape the meat into patties. However, I do not recommend skipping this step. The end result will turn out dry, and you will loose most of the flavor and juices during the smoking process. The casings will retain all of the juices and redistribute them back into the meat.)

Once you have a 6 inch link, twist the casing
6 or 7 times and start on another link. I made
for links and then tied the ends together. I think
any more than four links would have been to
 heavy to hang in the smoker.

(7) Preheat a home smoker to 250 degrees F. Smoke the sausages for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the smoker and use as desired. (I smoked my sausages at 180 degrees F, for the allotted time and the came out perfectly cooked. I think 250 degrees F may be a little high, but you can be the judge of that.)

Hickory Wood Chips.
Soak your wood chips in water for about
20-25 minutes before adding them to the
smoker. This will create a smouldering
smoke, instead of burning the wood chips.

My parents awesome, and well used smoker.

The wood chips are begining to smoke...

The sausage links are hung, and ready for
    These sausages turned out so well. Now to figure out how to get them home to Ontario, lol. Don't worry, I have it all figured out. I can't wait to start cooking with these baby's. I stored them into freezer safe bags (double bagged, so they are extra safe from freezer burn), and placed them into the freezer awaiting use. 
All smoked and delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Those look amazing!! you're blog rocks!!