Last week I wrote about Paul Prudhomme, the chef who first brought Cajun cooking to America’s forefront. Below are three of my most favorite Prudhomme recipes.
This is what Prudhomme made at Chicago’s Fancy Food Festival. While it doesn’t contain traditional Cajun ingredients except his spice blend(s), it’s a perfect example of those spices adding an extra dimension to an already delicious soup. Prudhomme’s recipe used only shitake mushrooms; I prefer an exotic mushroom mixture. It’s very rich, best enjoyed in small portions.
Leek, sun-dried tomato and shittake (or exotic) mushroom
soup with champagne
• 2 lbs. leeks
• 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
• 2 c. unsalted chicken (preferred) or vegetable stock
• 3 T. unsalted butter
• 1 c. chopped onions
• 1 1/2 T. Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic® or Vegetable Magic® or Magic
• 4 c. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced, or use a combination of cremini (aka baby bellas), oyster and shitake mushrooms
• 3/4 c. dry sparkling wine or dry still white wine, divided
• 2 c. heavy cream
• 1 c. Gouda cheese, grated
Cut the root ends and upper dark green leaves from the leeks, reserving the white and light green parts. Discard the leaves or save for making stock. Split the reserved sections lengthwise. Wash under running water to remove any dirt and debris. Thinly slice crosswise to make approximately 3 cups. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sun-dried tomatoes and stock over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat. Let stand until the tomatoes soften, about 30 minutes. Remove the tomato pieces with a slotted spoon and, when cooled, slice into thin strips. Measure the stock, and add enough extra stock to make 2 cups.
In a medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blend and stir. Continue cooking until the seasoning slightly darkens. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms slightly darken, about 4 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup of champagne/wine and stir well, scraping the pot to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Mix in the cream; continue simmering until the soup has reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Add the cheese gradually, stirring constantly until completely melted. Return to the stove over low heat, stir in remaining champagne/wine and cook for about a minute. Serve immediately or gently reheat.
Makes approximately 8 cups.
This wonderful macaroni salad is adapted from perhaps my most favorite Prudhomme cookbook. The Prudhomme Family Cookbook is a combination of memoir and recipes. The recipes are not only his and his wife K’s, but his 12 brothers and sisters and their spouses. Prudhomme says that some of the book’s most old-school recipes are included primarily so they won’t be lost. His brother Bobby contributed the following recipe, although Paul added the spicy note of ground hot pepper mayonnaise. The mayonnaise alone is worth making, so scrumptious it’s tempting to eat it straight from the jar. The addition of shrimp is mine; while the salad is great on its own, adding shrimp kicks it up a notch and is a good way to serve shrimp to a crowd without breaking the bank.
Cajun macaroni salad with
shrimp or crawfish
• 1 lb. shell pasta or other bite-sized pasta
• 1 c. thinly sliced white and green scallions
• 1 c. finely chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper, or a combination
• 4-6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
• 1 lb. medium cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined or cooked crawfish tails, or a mixture
• Approximately 1 recipe ground hot pepper mayonnaise, recipe follows
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• Salt to taste
Cook pasta just until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. Cool to room temperature. Reserve 1/4 cup of the green parts of the scallions and 1/4 cup of the peppers for garnish.
Mix the pasta with the remaining scallions and peppers. Mix in enough of the ground hot pepper mayonnaise to bind the ingredients. Gently mix in the eggs and shrimp; season to taste. Garnish with reserved scallion greens and peppers. Serve as is, stuffed in large hollowed-out tomatoes or on a bed of lettuce.
Serves 4 – 6 or more.
Ground hot pepper mayonnaise
• 3 T. ground hot pepper vinegar (stir to get both peppers and vinegar or 1 1/2 T. minced pickled jalapenos and 1 1/2 T. of their pickling liquid
• 1 large free-range organic egg
• 1/4 c. chopped scallions
• 1 T. sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 1/2 c. neutral vegetable oil (do not use olive oil)
• Put all ingredients in the container of an electric blender or food processor except the oil.
Blend or process for about two minutes or until the scallions and peppers are thoroughly pureéd. With the machine still running, add the oil in a very thin stream. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.
Ground hot pepper vinegar
• 1 1/4 lb. jalapeno peppers, washed, stemmed but not seeded
• 2 1/2 c. white distilled vinegar
• 1 T. kosher salt
Mince peppers in a food processor. Pack into a clean quart jar. Bring the vinegar and salt to a boil and pour over the peppers. Refrigerate. Makes 1 quart.
This is the most decadent recipe in my repertoire, best reserved for special occasions; it’s my mom’s birthday request. Prudhomme’s version is but one of what’s become a NOLA classic: shrimp in a spicy butter sauce that has no apparent relation to anything else barbequed. Traditionally the shrimp are served head-and-shell on; I like to use the shells for the stock. I also serve it as an appetizer, in a shallow heated pan with toothpicks and sliced, toasted baguette slices nearby. Extra sauce can be frozen and/or reheated to toss with pasta. Incidentally, this recipe was published before Prudhomme began marketing his seasoning blends.
• 1 1/2 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
• 1/2 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
• 1 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. crushed red pepper or to taste
• 1 T. fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried leaves (not ground)
• 1 T. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried leaves (not ground)
• 1/2 tsp. dried leaf oregano
• 1 T. minced garlic
• 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 lb. unsalted butter plus 10 T. chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
• 1 c. shrimp stock (recipe follows)
• 1/2 c. beer, room temperature
• 1/4 c. Heinz ketchup
Melt the 1/2 lb. butter in a very large (10-12-inch) skillet over low heat. If you do not have a large enough skillet, use two 8-inch skillets. It is important not to crowd the pan. Add the spices, herbs, Worcestershire and garlic to the skillet; stir to combine. Can be done ahead of time; turn off the heat until ready to proceed.
Have the remaining ingredients ready. Heat the butter/spice mixture over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1–2 minutes (depending on the shrimp’s size), shaking the pan instead of stirring. Add the stock and cook another 2 minutes. Add the beer and ketchup and cook a minute longer.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the chilled butter a few cubes at a time. Serve immediately in shallow bowls, with baguette slices and/or over rice.
Serves 4 – 6.
Adapted from a recipe in Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen.
• Reserved shells from shrimp, above
• 1–2 garlic cloves
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tsp. peppercorns
• 1 stalk celery
• 1 small onion
• Approximately 4 c. water.
In a pan, cover the shrimp shells with cold water– about 4 cups. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered for at least an hour. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids.
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