Jambalaya, Gumbo, and Étouffée
Jambalaya, Gumbo, & Étouffée: Cajun & Creole's Most Popular Dishes
If you are anything like most people living outside Louisiana, you may be unsure about some of the popular native dishes. What exactly is Jambalaya, and what makes it different from Gumbo? And what the heck is Étouffée? Let me see if I can enlighten you and, hopefully, have you cooking like a native by the end of this article.
Cajun & Creole cuisines are known for their rich sauces and their robust and hearty dishes. One of the most popular signature Cajun/Creole dishes is Gumbo. Gumbo is defined as a soup-like mixture made with a roux and several types of meats or seafood and served over rice. It is usually a rich brown color and has a thick consistency. There are as many different recipes for Gumbo as there are families in Louisiana...and that's a lot! The key to a great Gumbo lies in the roux, which is equal parts of fat (oil or butter) and flour cooked until very brown, but not burned. This is the thickening agent in a lot of Cajun & Creole dishes, so once you've mastered the roux, you're well on your way to cooking like a native. Other ingredients that are commonly added to Gumbo are onions, okra, garlic, shrimp, sausage, chicken, and crawfish
Étouffée is another favorite Cajun/Creole dish that is sometimes confused with Gumbo. Étouffée, though it may look similar, is actually a sauce containing vegetables used to smother either shrimp or crawfish. Étouffée is thickened with what is called sauce piquante, which is a thick mixture of roux and tomatoes that is highly seasoned and cooked low for hours.
A personal favorite Cajun/Creole dish of mine is Jambalaya because the name is as fun to say as it is to eat! Jambalaya is a highly seasoned mixture of different meats, seafood, or poultry with vegetables and rice. It usually turns out very colorful and spicy, but it just depends on the recipe.
There are certainly other popular Cajun and Creole dishes, but these are the three that most people outside of Louisiana would be familiar with. Once you can master the cooking of the "big 3" you are on your way to being able to create other favorites with no problems. There is a recipe for all three on this site, so get to practicing!
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