Friday, December 31, 2010

Real Cajun Cookbook Review

Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana

I asked Santa to bring me a copy of Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana, for Christmas this year, and what a beautiful, mouth-watering testament to The Deep South did it turn out to be. The first recipe I decided to try from it, was this simply delicious smothered pork roast, and let me tell you - if this roast doesn't drum up some memories of pork roast at grandma's house, I don't know what will.

This recipe was exactly that - a take on the very memories Chef Donald Link recalled from his own Granny's pork roast. Mine is a slightly adapted version of that recipe.

Donald Link is the chef-owner of two restaurants in New Orleans, Herbsaint and Cochon, and was awarded the James Beard Best Chef South Regional Award in 2007.  Jimmy Buffet, our own native Mississippian, said of Real Cajun 
“Donald Link’s book simply makes me hungry the way I used to be around my grandmother’s kitchen down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”  

I couldn't agree more, because this cookbook represents real, belly warming, down to earth Cajun cooking. Reading this cookbook reminds me of what it is that is so very special about where we live.

In the introduction, Link shares with us how it was the simple things that shaped who he is as a chef, even more so than all of his formal culinary training. Fishing with his granddad, making gumbo with his granny, meals built around fresh produce that came right out of the garden, seafood fished from local waters, and wild game straight from the woods. This is our life here in The Deep South.

Link recalls how as a child every occasion revolved around food - spicy crawfish boils, crab boils, fish fries and lakeside meals out of a cast iron skillet over a campfire. Holidays, festivals, funerals, any number of occasions where a family is brought together - from birth to death - food is so central to the southern way of life and is certainly reflected in the pages of this gorgeous cookbook.

Real Cajun is a beautiful testament to The South, and particularly to simple, Cajun country cooking. With stunning photography and deliciously described and drool-worthy Louisiana Cajun recipes, you will love this book. The recipes are divided into six sections La Vie Couchon, From Louisiana Waters, Family Gatherings, All the Fixin's, Outdoor Living and Louisiana Sweet Tooth. Here's a tiny taste of what's within the covers.

Crab Cakes with Jalapeno Remoulade

Billy Boy's Crawfish Etouffee

Grilled Redfish "On the Half Shell"

Fried Chicken Livers with Hot Pepper Glaze

Super Bowl Sunday Seafood Gumbo

Old-School Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Pan Fried Bass with Lemon and Browned Butter

Grilled Pork Ribs with Spicy Coonass BBQ Sauce

Homemade Boudin and Pork Sausage

And the recipe featured here today
Smothered Pork Roast over Rice

And a little somethin' somethin' for the sweet tooth maybe?

How 'bout Apple Pie with Buttermilk Ice Cream? Wait till you see the German Chocolate Cake. Mercy.

Real Cajun is just hands-down a beautiful cookbook with so many recipes that I want to try, including this one that has eluded me forever. Could this be the true, old fashioned, homemade cafeteria rolls? Remember them? Well, I've tried many recipes across the net that claim to be these well loved rolls, and not a single one of them have come close, so I am anxious to try Link's recipe to see if they meet the criteria from my memories. I have no doubt these will be good, but I'll let y'all know if this one, is the one.

I hope that I get to meet Donald Link some day. After devouring his cookbook front to back, I sort of already feel like kin really. Real Cajun literally had me drooling over it, page by page, laughing sometimes, shaking my head in agreement often, and a few times, even drawing a tear to my eye. If you love Cajun food you will both treasure and use this cookbook. You can purchase Real Cajun right from from the Deep South Dish store.  Buy it.  I know you'll love it.

In the meantime, do try this roast. It is to die for. And... it'll be a perfect addition to your New Year's Day menu.  LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER!!

Disclosure: I received this cookbook as a Christmas gift, however, we paid for it out of our own pockets. Neither Donald Link, or Clarkson Potter/Publishers in New York have any idea who I am. I just love the cookbook and wanted to share it with my readers. The affiliate links listed with this post, however, are from my Amazon store. A small percentage of proceeds from any purchases made through the Deep South Dish store help to financially support my work at this site.

Posted by on December 31, 2010

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