|Bayou La Batre, Alabama|
Because of my father's time there, I also developed a love and appreciation for Cajun food. Being that close to Louisiana and New Orleans, you can imagine that the food would easily cross over. My father spoke regularly of his love for Gumbo, and Jambalaya and hushpuppies. On the two trips that we took to that area when I was a child, I remember him always making an effort to find a good bowl of gumbo. And because I was somewhat food adventurous as a child, I would forego the gumbo and look for the more extreme food opportunities - soft shell crab, or alligator nuggets. Neither would prove to be as wonderful as the sausage and shrimp and rice found in the dark, rich roux that is gumbo. You'd think this post is all about gumbo, but that will come at another time. Believe me, that is a very special dish to my heart. I won't attempt to post about it haphazardly.
Recently, these memories were brought back to the forefront of my mind when a friend of Facebook challenged me to explore some different Cajun recipes. She mentioned Gumbo, and Jambalaya and Po'Boys and Red Beans & Rice. I couldn't help but get excited at the opportunity, but I also wanted to dive into something a little different. For several years, I've heard about and watched people describe a slightly lesser known Cajun delicacy called Muffuletta. The main ingredient in this condiment is Olives. I love olives. All olives. I've never met an olive I didn't like, except for the one I picked off a tree in California. I detested that olive.
There are lots of ideas about what Muffuletta Po'Boy should look like, taste like, and incorporate, but
in an effort to stay (mostly) true to its history in New Orleans, I determined that I would make a Muffuletta Po'Boy, and just add a little Fat Pastor to it. In keeping it real, it requires 3 key components:
1 - The Muffuletta
2 - 2 Types of Pork
3 - Mozzarella Cheese
There seems to be a little wiggle room when it comes to the pork. I've seen many recipes that call for ham, Mortadella, Salami... While any New Orleans purist might balk at my effort to change it up a bit, I must say - my choice to use deli ham and slow roasted pork belly was a good choice. Really good.
Then there is the red beans and rice. A good friend of mine who played for the New Orleans Saints some years ago made one thing very clear. Andouille sausage is key. His words? "Shawn, not everyone knows that andouille sausage is a must for red beans and rice." Glad I didn't leave it out!!
I'm also throwing into the mix a crunchy cajun slaw to offset some of the heaviness of this meal. Believe me, while consuming all of that ham, pork belly and andouille sausage you'll want something bright and acidic to give you some relief from all of those big, bold flavors. It's super simple, and probably something you can mess with on your own as well. After all, anyone can follow a recipe. But a dish like this requires you add little soul of your own.
So throw on some Louis Armstrong, or whatever old school Jazz you enjoy, and jump in the kitchen, and refer to everyone as "y'all" for the night. And leave me some comments once you've tried it!
Muffuletta Po'Boy With Red Beans & Rice and Cajun Slaw
For the Cajun Seasoning: (fyi, this goes on EVERYTHING at our house - especially steaks)
3 Tbl. Paprika
1.5 Tbl. Onion Powder
1.5 Tbl. Garlic Powder
1 Tbl. Salt
1.5 tsp. Pepper
1.5 tsp. Basil
1.5 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Mix together and set aside until ready to use
For The Cajun Slaw:
1 Bag Shredded Cabbage
1/2 Cup Mayo
2 Tbl. White Vinegar
3 Tbl. Sugar
1 Tbl. Creole Mustard
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Cajun Seasoning
Place cabbage in a bowl. Mix together remaining ingredients, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Mix with the cabbage until well combined, cover, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For The Quick Muffuletta:
1 Can Black Olives
2 Cups Pimento Stuffed Green Olives
2 Tbl. Capers plus 2 Tbl. Jar Liquid
2 Stalks Celery, Finely Chopped
1/2 a Shallot
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Tsp. Cajun Seasoning
Place in a food processor, and roughly chop. Place in a jar and keep in the fridge until ready to use. If you have leftovers, just add a little vinegar to the jar, and it should keep for a couple weeks! (If it lasts that long...)
For The Slow Roasted Pork Belly:
Note for my Yakima friends: there is only one place in town that I've been able to get Pork Belly - Fiesta Foods! It can get a bit frustrating though because you have to go to the deli (not the meat counter) and ask for the raw pork belly they use for Chicharrons. They will act confused at first (happens every time) and then ask you how much you want. Stick with it! I almost always leave with what I need! lol
2 Lbs. Pork Belly, skin removed
1 Medium Onion, sliced
Preheat the oven to 450.
Line a metal cake pan with foil. Slice the onion, and place on the bottom of the foil.
Take the skin off the pork belly, being very careful to only remove the skin, and not the fat cap under it. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt, and then place in the oven, uncovered for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven, and reduce temperature to 250. Throw away the onions, and re-line the pan with foil. Spread creole mustard all over both sides of the pork belly, then sprinkle both sides with the cajun seasoning. Feel free to be as liberal or conservative with that as you want. Cover, and place back in the oven for 90 minutes. When
Compiling The Po'Boy:
French Hoagie Rolls or a Round Loaf if you can find one suitable!!
Deli Ham, sliced thin
Slow Roasted Pork
To assemble, spread some mayo on the bottom piece of the hoagie that you've briefly toasted. Then place a slice of that delectable pork belly on top. To that, add your sliced deli ham, followed by a good splattering of muffuletta and finally some mozzarella cheese. To finish it off, throw it under the broiler briefly to melt that cheese. Serve up with the red beans and rice and the cajun slaw.
Oh yeah, the red beans and rice!
For The Red Beans & Rice:
1/2 Lb. Cooked Andouille Sausage, Sliced
2 Tbl. Canola Oil
1 Green Pepper, Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Shallot, Minced
1 Large Can Red Kidney Beans
1 Bottle Stout Beer
1 Cup Cooked White Rice
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tbl. Cajun Seasoning, or to taste
Green Onion, sliced, for garnish
In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, shallot and onions. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the green pepper, and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add the Andouille sausage and Red Kidney Beans. Stir to combine. Add the bottle of beer and 1 tsp. Salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and allow the beer to reduce. When beer is almost completely evaporated, add the white rice and cajun seasoning. Stir well, check for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Garnish with the green onion, and serve!
Because Eating Good Is A Calling Of Its Own,
The Fat Pastor
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