Cajun Red Beans and Rice

I have always been a fan of Cajun and Creole cooking; the flavors and spices are among some of the best in my mind. In my opinion, great Cajun food simply has soul, and that’s what draws me to it. I grew up on comfort food and to me – Cajun food is just that, comfort food with a kick. So in honor of this past Mardi Gras, I made one of my favorites: Red Beans and Rice.

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Cajun Red Beans And Rice
What you will need:

  • 1 lb. red kidney beans (dry, then soaked overnight in water)
  • 5 Strips bacon sliced to 1” strips
  • 3 Jalapenos chopped (seeds removed)
  • 4 Ribs celery chopped
  • 1 Green bell pepper chopped
  • 5 Cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • ¾ lb. Andouille sausage thinly sliced (I substituted ¼ lb. with linguisa)
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (The recipe below makes more than 2 tbsp. so just store the remainder, its great on fish or chicken)
  • 3 Cups chicken broth (You can substitute with water)
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Cups white rice
  • Salt and PepperRendered Bacon

Cajun Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 tbsp. oregano Chopped Andouille Sausage
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • ½ tbsp. cumin

Cook

Cook your white rice to the directions on the package and then let them sit, covered until your red beans are done. Make sure to flavor your rice with a little chicken stock, parsley or whatever you desire.

Start with a 6 quart dutch oven and slowly render out the fat of the sliced bacon. You want to do this under medium-low heat so that you don’t burn the bacon but rather pull out all that fat goodness. Before the bacon starts to get crisp pull it out and set it aside.

Next, you will add your Andouille sausage to the pot and cook that under medium-low heat until the sausage starts to brown. Once the Andouille is slightly browned pull it and set it aside.Brown Bits

Caveman Tip*** There should be all sorts of brown bits and grease in the bottom of the pan, that’s perfect, that’s what you want. It’s all those brown bits that help give the Red Beans and Rice those great flavors.

Now add your green peppers, onions, celery, garlic, and jalapenos to the pot at a medium heat. You will want to stir occasionally until the vegetables get soft.

Caveman Tip*** A trio of green peppers, onions and celery in the south is called the “ Holy Trinity” and it’s used as a base for most stews and soups. It’s very similar to the French version of the mirepoix which consists of celery, onions and carrots. Both are great as a base for a lot of dishes

Once the vegetables are soft add in your beans, bacon, sausage, 3 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water and 2 tbsp. of the Cajun seasoning.

Now bring the Red Beans up to a slow boil and then reduce the heat to low and put on the lid. You will want to simmer them for 30-60 minutes or until the beans are soft.

Caveman Tip*** I like to pull the lid off and cook the red beans without the lid  for the last 20 minutes of so, this allows the sauce to reduce and concentrate all those great flavors.Holy Trinity Besides I like my red beans and rice to be a little heartier as opposed to soupy

Once the red beans are done, place some rice in the center of a bowl and pour your red beans around the outside edge of them. I like to top with a little chopped green onion and serve.  It’s delicious.

If you’re a fan of spicy trust me, Red Beans and Rice will become one of your favorites too!

Enjoy!

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Chicken Fried Steak With Sausage Gravy

We spent last Saturday afternoon at a street fair in Fountain Hills AZ. It was wonderful time; the streets were filled with food vendors, artists and other miscellaneous Chicken Fried Steakbooths with interesting items for sale, along with a beer garden or two. We picked up a few things here and there – mainly some salsa and spices, most of these small vendors use fresh ingredients and have pretty good product. There were two companies I really liked and brought home some items from both their shops, Natura Spice Company out of Scottsdale AZ and Starlight Herb and Spice Company out of Idaho. Both have great spices and I would recommend giving them a try if you every get the opportunity.

So the reason I bring up spices is because of the number one problem I find with most foods when we eat out, and that is the lack of spices. One of the vendors there had what they were calling fresh Alaskan salmon; honestly I was kind of pumped to give it a try, especially when I saw the Salmon Chowder. We split a bowl and it had large chunks of salmon in it with some other good flavors, but it was lacking the basic seasoning like salt and pepper that would have made that dish so much better.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my brother, the Executive Chef, or the countless hours of food network, it’s always taste your food and add those basic spices like salt and pepper.

This dish is one of my all-time favorites for both breakfast and dinner, but if you don’t season it or the gravy properly – you get just a bland meal.

Seasoned Flour

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What you will need:

  • 2 Cubed steaks pounded thin
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour (seasoned)
  • 2 Eggs beaten (seasoned with S&P)
  • Frying Oil (peanut or other high temp oil)Seasoned Chicken Fried Steak
  • Green onion or flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper

Seasoned Flour

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. saltFrying Chicken Fried Steak
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • ¼ tbsp. cayenne or some red pepper flakes

Prep

In a shallow frying pan heat up about 2 inches of the frying oil over medium to medium high heat. While the oil is heating up, take your cube steak and pass if through the flour, then egg then flour mixture. You will want to repeat this process for as many steaks as you are cooking.

Cook

Once the oil is nice and hot, but not smoking, you will want to carefully lay the steaks in the pan and shallow fry them. It should takChicken Fried Steake about 4-6 minutes per side depending on how hot your oil is. Keep an eye on them as they will burn quickly. Once both sides are browned place them on a paper towel to drain off the grease and serve with your favorite gravy. Nothings better than a good sausage gravy in my mind and you can find a good one at my county sausage gravy recipe.

Enjoy

Stuffed Poblano’s With Red Sauce

I don’t know what’s wrong with restaurants these days but I am so tired of paying for bland mediocre food. Twice now we went to a Mexican restaurant where I ordered what was supposed to be authentOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAic Mexican food… first time I ordered a Chili Relleno and got a cold burnt poblano with a burnt red sauce that cost me over $10. The second time I ordered and trio of enchiladas with various filings and sauces, what I got was a soggy bland enchilada that tasted the same no matter what type of sauce or filling I ordered.

The sad thing is both of the places came highly recommended! So either I have become a food snob or people just stopped appreciating truly good food.

So to get past my rant, I was in the mood for some good Mexican food and decided to make my version of a fried stuffed poblano. Let’s just say despite the extra work, it was much better than anything I have gotten in a Mexican restaurant in a while and I live in Arizona……….SAD!

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What you will need:

  • 4 Poblano peppers
  • 2 Cups red sauce (store bought or see recipe below)
  • 3-4 cups chicken mixture (see below)
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Frying Oil (peanut or other high temp oil)
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper

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Red Sauce

  • 6 Dried Ancho peppers, stems cut (I use dried peppers because they store in the pantry for along time)
  • 10 Dried Arbol peppers, stems cut
  • ½ White onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups of the water from rehydrating the peppers

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Filling

  • 1 Cooked chicken breast (grilled or baked with Mexican spices)
  • ½ white onion chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can black beans with liquid
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese shredded

 PrepOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heat up your grill to medium high heat. (you can substitute the grill for the broiler if needed) While you are heating up the grill lightly coat the poblano’s with EVOO and season your chicken. Once the grill is good and hot place the poblano’s and the chicken on the grill.

Caveman Tip*** You are just looking to soften the poblano peppers on the grill and give them a little char without burning them, you want to give them that grilled flavor and get the skin loose so you can remove it.

Red Sauce Prep

Caveman Tip*** I like to put my dried peppers on the grill for a few minutes before I soak them in water, gives them a little extra smokiness.

After the dried peppers are toasted you will need to soak them covered in hot water at least 20-30 minutes to re-constitute them.Place your hydrated peppers and the remainder of the red sauce ingredients into a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. Put the sauce into a small pan and simmer under medium heat.

Caveman Tip*** I wanted the sauce to reduce, that way it would concentrate those flavors give it a thicker consistency and that little bit of pop. That’s up to you, just taste it, add S&P or more vinegar to your liking, but I would recommend that you reduce it. Then just let it sit on the stove keeping it warm unit you are ready to use it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stuffed Poblano Prep

Once the peppers are soft and the skin starts to fall off pull them from the grill and let them cool. Continue to cook the chicken until its done and pull it off the grill. Just let it rest long enough so that you can shred it without burning your fingers.Once the poblano’s have cooled peel the skin off and then cut a small slit in the side of the pepper. Reach in and pull out the seeds.

Cook

Take your onions and mushrooms for the filling and sauté with some EVOO under medium heat; don’t forget to add a little salt and pepper. Once they are soft add the remainder of the filing ingredients and cook under medium heat until warm. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes giving the spices time to incorporate into the mixture and the chicken time to absorb some of that black bean flavor.

While your mixture is cooking get a pan heated up with your frying oil. You only need about 2 inches of oil at the bottom of the pan. If you have a candy thermometer it works best, you want to get your oil up to about 350 degrees. There are other tricks if you don’t have a thermometer using the base of a wooden spoon. Just give it a Google search and it will come up.

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Stuff the poblano’s with the mixture I use cheese them chicken mixture and them cheese again. Don’t over stuff them just enough so you can still close them. Next you will want to roll them in the egg wash and then liberally coat them with the panko bread crumbs.

Now, carefully lay them in the oil and roll them so that they fry on all the edges. You will want to dry them on a paper towel and then serve immediately with your red sauce.

It’s a bit much for a weeknight recipe but definitely worth the work! This dish goes great with my Spanish Rice

Lamb Chops Take 2

I originally made this dish after a food truck festival one evening. We were there with some friends and as we were leaving everyone decided to come by our house for some food, which is pretty common for us. So I stopped by the local Fresh & Easy looking for a Tri-Tip or something that could feed 5 people. Fresh & Easy isn’t well known for their choice of meat so I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t have a tri-tip.  I contemplated getting steaks but then I saw the lamb chops and thought fun, let’s give that a try.

From what I remember the lamb chops were awesome, but I will admit, after a day and evening of drinking I really didn’t remember the entire recipe, nor did I get any pictures. So this is my grilled lamb chops take two.

Hope you enjoy!

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What you will need:

  • 2 Racks of lamb chops
  • 3 Cups red wine & pomegranate juice for the wonderful marinade (see below)
  • 1 Cup Caveman Chimichurri sauce (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

Marinade

  •  2 Cups red wineOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 1 Cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper

Caveman Chimichurri

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ – ¾ cup EVOO
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp. horseradish sauce

Prep

Marinade: Combine all the ingredients with the lamb chops into a zip lock bag, seal tightly, removing as much air as possible from the bag, and let it sit in the fridge for 1-3 hours

Caveman Chimichurri: Combine the first 6 ingredients (all but the yellow mustard and horseradish) into the food processor and pulse several times until well blended. You may need to add a little more EVOO while blending; I like my mixture to be a little loose as it will be a coating for the chops and not finishing as a sauce. After the mixture is well blended, put into a small bowl and mix in the yellow mustard and horseradish sauce. I do this at the end so I can regulate how much I add in, and make it to my liking.

Cook

Preheat your grill: First make sure you clean the grates and then oil so that the chops will not stick. Turn your grill up to full heat; close the lid and let it get hot for about 10 minutes.

While your grill is getting hot pull the lamb out of the marinade and pat it dry. Coat it liberally with the chimichurri sauce and let it sit out until your grill is ready. You want your meat to get close to rlrst_rack_z[1]oom temp; this will help cook it more evenly.

Caveman Tip*** Grilling won’t take long because you really want to serve lamb rare or medium rare. I prefer medium rare over rare because I like my meat to be warm in the middle and not cold. I strongly recommend getting an instant read thermometer – they are pretty cheap and you will always get your meats the right temp.

When your grill is ready (good and hot) put on the chops. To get a good sear, I let them go 3-5 minutes on each side and then even the ends for a few minutes each. Just keep an eye on them as I said it will not take long. Once you get a good sear on each side, check the temp in the center of the chops, you’re looking for 135°F for medium rare. If you prefer different temperature, you be the judge. If you need to cook them a little longer just use the top rack of the grill or put them off the heat and finish cooking.

Let the chops rest for 10 minutes or so covered and then slice and serve them with your favorite sides.

Enjoy!

Caveman Stroganoff

What you will need:

  • 1 ½lbs. steak, thin cut
  • 12 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried tarragon
  • 2 tbsp. white flour
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • Beef stock (½ cup)
  • 1½ cup sour cream
  • 3 cups egg noodles
  • ½ Cup Fresh Parsley

Prepare Beef:

Thinly slice the beef into 2”x ¼” strips.  Put them into a bowl and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. You be the judge on how much to use depending on your taste.

Next you will lightly dust the steak strips with the flour.

Prepare Noodles:

Get a large stock pot ready with salted water. I use about 1-2 tablespoons depending on the size of the pot. The water should taste mildly salty.

Caveman Tip*** When I am cooking a meal that requires pasta, I like to get the water ready under medium to medium high heat. If it starts to boil and reduce you can always add more water to the pot. This allows me to just turn up the heat and cook the pasta without having to wait for the water to get to a boil and it greatly reduces the time it takes to cook the pasta. It can be troublesome to time your food so this just helps me.  You always want to try and take your pasta straight from the boiling water to your sauce, just a quick strain, never rinse your pasta.

Cook:

Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a large skillet on medium high heat.  Lay the steaks in the pan and quickly brown them on both sides.

**Caveman Tip:  Do not overcrowd the pan. It’s important to leave space between your beef strips, overcrowding the pan will cause the temperature to reduce and you will not get that good sear, instead the meat will start boiling in its own juices.   If you have to cook the beef in a couple rounds, that’s okay, just add a little more butter or EVOO as necessary.

**Caveman Tip:  Do not overcook the meat, they are small strips and will cook quickly, also remember that they will continue to cook when you pull them from the pan. So remember only a minute or so per side, just enough to get a good sear.

Repeat technique until all the beef is cooked.  Your kitchen will be smelling good at this point!

Now remove the steak from the pan and set aside.

**Caveman tip: Do not remove the goodness from the beef pan. We want to use those flavors to carry into the next step.

 After you cook the steak, reduce the heat to medium, there should be some butter or EVOO still in the pan if not add a tbls of EVOO and add the onions to the same pan.

Add a pinch of salt to the onions and stir the goodness from the pan into the onions.   Next add a tsp. of flour and sauté until the onions are soft and almost caramelized.  If the liquid in the pan gets completely absorbed or the onions become dry and start to burn add a tablespoons of beef stock.

Once the onions are ready, add your mushrooms to the mixture followed by a pinch of salt. Let the mushrooms get soft and then add ¼ cup beef stock and the tarragon.  Now increase your heat to medium high and get the mixture to a rolling boil.  Now add your beef back into the mix.  You will want to stir continuously, moving all the ingredients around.  Once its boiling you will want to reduce the heat to medium. You will want to simmer the mixture until the liquid reduces by half.

**Caveman Tip:  Taste your liquid.  You may need to add salt, but you be the judge.  I can’t say this enough, but you have to always taste your food, start to finish. This way you can adjust ingredients as needed.

Now would be a good time to add your noodles to the boiling water.  (Cook as directed on the package)

The noodles should only take a few minutes since your water is almost boiling already.

**Caveman Tip:  You always want to cook your noodles al dente, this means soft but still has a little bite to it. Remember the noodles will continue to cook when you pull them from the water and you want them to finish cooking and absorb that awesome sauce you just made.

Once the sauce has reduced by half and it tastes to your liking add 1 ½ cups of sour cream to your stroganoff mixture this will help thicken it up and add that creamy texture.  You will now reduce the heat to medium low and when your noodles are ready give them a quick strain add them into your mixture. Now turn the heat back up to medium and stir them in for a minute or so, this will allow the noodles to finish cooking and bring everything together.

All you need to do now is top will a little fresh parsley and you’re ready to go!