Monday, July 15, 2013

A Nod to NOLA

NOLA, or New Orleans, is an entity all of its own.  The culture and heritage is so rich there, and the city is teeming with life.  And it could certainly be argued that New Orleans is the one city in America that is richest in musical heritage.  The music, the sounds, the people, the food all make NOLA a true treasure.

Every year in New Orleans, they hold the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a multi-day event honoring the birthplace of jazz music.  The festival is rich with culture, music and food.  One dish that can be found at the festival is a dish called Crawfish Monica.  The dish was created by a chef named Pierre Hilzim and was named after his wife, Monica.  Chef Hilzim owns Kajun Kettle Foods, and the Crawfish Monica can be found at a food stand at the festival.

So I, being a huge crawfish fan, had to try this dish.  Although the true recipe is a secret of Kajun Kettle Foods, I found another recipe that mine is loosely based on from Emeril Lagasse.  With the addition of shrimp, mushrooms, bell pepper, and Pepper Jack cheese, this dish is truly amazing.  If you're a crawfish fan, I think you'll approve.

Who's going to throw me some beads?

1 lb pasta (I used cavatappi)
1/2 stick butter
Olive oil
1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 lb crawfish tails
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Creole seasoning (recipe to follow)
One 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1 C white wine
1/2 C chicken stock
1 pint heavy cream
Juice of one lemon
2 C shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
Sliced green onions, for garnish

Cook pasta according to directions.

Melt the butter into a large skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the onions and bell pepper until tender.  Add in the mushrooms and garlic.  Cook until the mushrooms are tender.  Season with the Creole seasoning, to taste.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for about a minute.  Add in the chicken stock and deglaze the pan again, cooking for about another minute.  Add in the cream, lemon juice, crawfish and shrimp.  Cook for a few minutes or until the shrimp are opaque and done.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the cheese and parsley, continuing to stir until the cheese is melted.  Serve the sauce over the pasta, garnishing with the green onions.

2 1/2 T paprika
2 T salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1 T onion powder
1 T cayenne
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme

Mix all the ingredients together and store in a sealed container.

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