creole seasoning blend | stocks | the four basic dishes  

The Basics, and the Quintessential Dishes

Before you get started, make a batch of Creole seasoning blend (very important). This type of seasoning base is used in many New Orleans restaurants, from Emeril's to Commander's Palace to K-Paul's. It's not a universal seasoning, but it's a base upon which to build the seasoning of a dish, and is very versatile. It can also be used to give a little zing to your everyday cooking.

Cajun dishes from out in the country often call for similar "seasoning mixture" as an ingredient. Sarah Savoy of Eunice, Louisiana says, "You'll find your own measurements for this, but I usually use four parts cayenne pepper, two parts black pepper, two parts garlic powder, one part onion powder, and one part salt. Sometimes I add dried parsley." Many Cajun cooks season their food simply, with only salt, black pepper and red pepper, allowing the flavor of the dish's ingredients to take center stage.

You'll also see commercially prepared seasoning blends from Emeril Lagasse's "Bayou Bang" (or his "essence", as he says on TV) to Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. I like the ones you make yourself particularly, as you can control the amount of salt that goes in.


A good homemade stock is the foundation of many a dish. I have three rules regarding stocks:

  1. Always use homemade stock.
  2. Always use homemade stock.
  3. Always use homemade stock.
Please don't use canned broths; the stock you make yourself will be much more flavorful and better for you, too. You're really wasting your time with that stuff; it's salty and poorly flavored and just plain awful. Set aside a day every month or so to make stocks, and freeze them in small containers or freezer bags. You can even use ice trays to make small cubes of frozen stock for a quick and easy zip of stock in any dish. Once you've taken care of the mise-en-place, the stock will simmer by itself for hours, and will make your house smell really good!

If it's a dire emergency, and you have to use a canned stock, use the lowest-salt/lowest-fat canned broth you can (health-food brands are preferable to mainstream commercial brands, which are loaded with salt and tend to be made with fat and schmaltz instead of meat or bones). Put it in a saucepan and add a sachet d'epices and some mirepoix, as in the above from-scratch stock recipes; bring to a boil and simmer for at least a half-hour. It'll help ...


The Essential Dishes:
The Heart and Soul of Louisiana Cuisine

As a New Orleanian, I f ind these dishes to be the ultimate in comfort food. The rich, complex levels of flavor in a gumbo ... a hearty, filling jambalaya ... plump shrimp in a spicy red gravy over rice ... and what more can be said of the quintessential New Orleans dish, red beans 'n rice, traditionally served on Mondays. Master these and you'll have a good grasp of the basic dishes of Creole and Cajun cuisine, and they'll be a great springboard for your exploration of other local dishes.

creole and cajun recipe page | the gumbo pages
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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)