The differences and similarities of Cajun and Creole cooking.
I started studying gourmet cooking in high school. My French teacher also taught classes in French cooking and I immediately became hooked. So for more than 40 years I’ve been studying and experimenting with all things gourmet. One of my favorite types of cooking is Cajun-style.
Cajun cooking is actually a combination of two separate cooking styles – French and Southern. Both cuisines tend to be rich and robust, using spices and seasonings to perk up the flavor of the dish.
Many people think that Cajun and Creole cooking is the same. Although there have always been some differences between the two styles, they have, over the years, come closer in tune with one another. Cajun cooking once relied heavily on the use of animal fat – generally pork – while Creole cooking involved more sauces and creams. Today, both styles often use a little bit of everything.
A Cajun-seasoning base combines garlic, onion, different types of chilies, and black pepper. But different blends also contain additional ingredients like mustard, celery, chive, etc. Therefore, it can be difficult finding the Cajun blend that best suits your own individual tastes. Once you do, however, you should be certain to hold on to the name of the blend so that it can be duplicated.
I love blending Cajun and Creole styles together. One of my family’s favorite Cajun recipes is blackened steak with Creole butter. I generally prefer New York Strip steak for this recipe. However, ribeye steak also works well.
Good Cajun cooking requires excellent cookware that heats evenly throughout the pan. I personally prefer to use cast iron. It not only heats evenly, but also holds the heat in until the dish is ready to be served.
To prepare your steak for blackening, rub each side with olive oil. Next, lightly coat each side of the steak with your chosen Cajun seasoning. If your blend is relatively mild, you may want to add more seasoning while the steak is cooking. However, if the blend you choose is already spicy, be cautious not to overcoat the meat. Blackened steak should be pleasantly warm, but no too hot to eat.
Heat your skillet on high a high fire. Once it is heated throughout, add one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter or margarine.
It is imperative that the pan be very hot before you add the steak. You want it to immediately sear the juices inside. Cook the steak on each side until each is golden brown. Cut about three or four small slits into the steak so that you can add more seasoning if needed as well as check on the meat’s doneness with each turn. Turn the heat down to medium.
After turning the meat one time each way, you can add more Cajun seasoning, if desired. For those who prefer rare meat, it will take between five and six minutes per side. Add an additional minute for medium rare; two to three minutes for medium; three to four minutes or medium well; and an additional five minutes for well done.
While the steak is cooking, prepare your Creole butter. I prefer using soft spread butter or margarine but you can also soften stick butter.
Combine one-half cup of softened butter with one to two tablespoons of Cajun seasoning; one quarter teaspoon of garlic salt; one quarter teaspoon of celery salt; one quarter teaspoon of Season-All powder, and one half teaspoon of Season-All pepper. For those avoiding salt altogether, you can substitute one half teaspoon of Mrs. Dash’s Extra Spicy seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Just before removing the steaks from the pan, add one teaspoon of browning sauce; turn and repeat on the other side. Remove the steaks but leave the heat on medium. Add three tablespoons for lime juice to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, reduce the liquid by one-half. Pour the remaining mixture lightly over the steaks. Serve each steak with a dollop of Creole butter.
For those who do not care for blackened meat, use the same process but replace the Cajun seasoning with straight garlic salt or Season-All and eliminate the Creole butter.
You will be amazed that you can cook tender, tasty steaks right on the burner. My family actually likes this process as much as grilling. Searing the juices inside the steak ensures a tender, juicy bite every single time.
Try it. You’ll like it. Or give me a call and I’ll come and fix it for you. After all, I love to cook!
Published in: Cooking