Regional Focus: Creole Cooking

Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana which blends French, Spanish, West African, Indigenous American, Haitian and Irish influences. Mix this all together like a good gumbo and add in influences from the Southern United States and you have one of the most complex and interesting regional cuisines in the entire world.

Some regionally specific dishes include:

Gumbo, Chicken Creole, Creole Baked Chicken, Crawfish étouffée, Jambalaya, Pompano en Papillote, Shrimp Bisque, Shrimp Creole, Smothered Pork Chops, Trout Meunière, Red Beans, Dirty Rice, Bananas Foster, Beignets, King Cake and Pralines…just to name a few of the more famous ones.

A couple of those dishes listed above most people in America aren’t familiar with (étouffée, en papillote and meuniere)…so here is a quick rundown:

Étouffée is a dish made of seafood or chicken simmered in a sauce made from a light or blond roux that is typically served over rice. The seafood version is most commonly made with shellfish, such as crab or shrimp. The most popular Creole version of the dish is made with crawfish, it is made with a blonde or brown roux and sometimes tomatoes are added.

En papillote is French and means “in parchment”. Pompano is a type of butterfish, or jack fish that is found along the Gulf coastal region of Louisiana. These words together mean that this mackerel like fish will be cooked in a parchment pouch with a splash of wine and sometimes a little knob of butter and seasoning. The pouch will keep in the steam and is not typically opened until the dish is delivered to the table.

Meuniere is a French word meaning “the miller’s wife”, and in culinary terms it is not only a method of preparing something but also the name of the resulting sauce when prepared in this method. First the fish is dredged in a seasoned flour, sautéed at a high heat and then a brown butter, parsley and lemon sauce is prepared in the same pan when the fish is removed. This sauce then is served over top of the fish. The most popular fish to use in this preparation method in Creole cooking is a trout.

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