Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice in a Plate

If there are three things that are obvious about Cajun and Creole cuisine, they’re that Louisianans love their rice, love their meat, and can’t get enough of bold flavors. Dirty Rice takes any extra fuss out of those three loves, and prominently features them as equal stars in this simple dish. 

Combining Traditions

The Cajun and Creole cuisine of Louisiana combines a veritable melting pot of cultures. Cajuns were French colonists who were forcefully relocated from Canada to rural areas of Southern Louisiana. Creole were wealthy French and Spanish families in New Orleans, as well as people of color with African and Caribbean descent who resided in The Big Easy. 

One thread that weaves much of Cajun and Creole cuisine together is the fact that it was born out of poverty. Though some of the Creole were well off, others were not, and most Cajuns had very little in the way of wealth or resources. This means that, delicious as the food is, it was created for its cost effectiveness, the fact that it’s filling, and that it’s easy to cook in large batches. 

Such is the case with Dirty Rice, like many other rice dishes around the world. The abundant rice plantations in Louisiana meant that it was a filling and cheap starch, and was widely available. Traditionally, Dirty Rice was prepared with parts of meat that weren’t all that desirable otherwise, like gizzards and kidneys. When ground, seasoned heavily, and added to rice, these otherwise unwanted pieces became a sustaining delight. 

Since its humble beginnings, Dirty Rice has gained notoriety as a Louisiana staple. Though it is still inexpensive, it is now an indispensable part of this cultural cuisine. 

Low Cost, High Flavor

The attributes that made Dirty Rice so appealing to Cajuns 200 years ago are still relevant today. Dirty Rice is inexpensive, can feed many mouths with a single batch, and doesn’t lack any flavor. Cajun and Creole cuisine is famous for its liberal seasoning, and that’s especially relevant with this dish. 

Although the base is white rice, the meat and seasonings provide the distinctive “dirty” coloring. While the dish is often prepared with ground meat that is not scrap, or what the French would refer to as Offal, some recipes still call for this inexpensive source of protein. 

Making Dirty Rice

Minced Ground Meat

If you’re interested in making a rather traditional version of Dirty Rice, this recipe is for you. It calls for: ground pork and chicken livers, a number of different vegetables, herbs, and spices, rice, and chicken stock. 

To create the dish, start by cooking and seasoning the meat. You’ll then add the chicken stock and vegetables, and eventually the rice. Once all of the ingredients are together in a single pan, allow them to get to know each other and mix freely. The rice will absorb the excess liquid, and your dish is then ready to serve. 

Common recipe variations call for other types of meat, or additional vegetables. Usually, something called the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisine (which simply means onion, celery, and bell pepper) will be present in Dirty Rice, but vegetables could be omitted entirely if you’d prefer. This dish was born out of necessity, so don’t be afraid to throw in whatever you’ve got lying around the house—as long as it’s well seasoned, it’s bound to taste good. 

Dirty Rice, like many other Cajun dishes, began as a means to feed an entire family on a small budget, but it has become a beloved staple of this vibrant cuisine.

Maque Choux

Corn

A departure from traditional Cajun and Creole favorites like rice and meat, Maque Choux is a vegetarian dish (that could even be made Vegan with very little work, and it was influenced by an additional culture not often all that present in the Southern Louisiana cuisine. 

Creole Take on Corn

In 19th century New Orlean, Creole culture expanded from only encompassing elite French and Spanish families to also include people of color from African and Caribbean descent. This allowed for the sorts of flavors present in their cuisine to expand as well, but Maque Choux isn’t just African, Caribbean, French, or Spanish. It is actually likely influenced heavily by Native Americans. 

This dish consists mainly of corn sauteed with vegetables and seasoned. Traditionally, Louisianans could pick produce fresh from their gardens and make Maque Choux that same day. 

No one knows for sure how Maque Choux became a popular Louisiana dish. In fact, no one is even certain what Maque Choux means, though it appears to be a French derivation of some sort. Interpretations of the name range from “mock cabbage,” which would suggest that cabbage was once a part of the dish, to a mispronunciation of a Native American word. 

However it came to be, this dish in incomparably fresh, and is a great foil to some of the heavier Cajun and Creole entrees. Perhaps that’s why it’s still a popular side in Louisiana homes and restaurants today. 

Same Flavor, Different Feel

Cajun and Creole cuisine is famous for its bold use of spices, but other than that parallel, Maque Choux stands out against most of the other dishes for which Southern Louisiana is famous. Rather than being heavy and relying on animal products to take center stage, Maque Choux is made entirely of produce. 

This certainly speaks to the fact that this dish was influenced by another culture outside of French and Spanish, as it mirrors a more indigenous style like is sometimes noticeable in Mexican cuisine. Despite its differences from most of the food in the region, Maque Choux is still a beloved classic, a testament to the fact that Cajun and Creole cuisine can’t simply be placed in a box.  

How to Make Maque Choux

Most Maque Choux recipes are very similar, as there’s little need to add extra frill to this simple classic. Traditional recipes like this one suggest cooking in bacon grease, but that’s a negotiable aspect. In any case, to make Maque Choux you’ll need: corn, onions, peppers, Cajun seasonings, and chicken stock. 

Corn

Once you have this colorful crop of ingredients, the process of actually cooking the dish is quite simple: Heat your grease or oil in a skillet, then add your vegetables and seasoning. Allow them to cook until they’re softened, and then add chicken stock. Continue to heat the dish so the chicken stock has a chance to absorb, then it’s ready to serve. 

Maque Choux is generally served as a side dish, but can be made an entree with the addition of some protein. Another common variation to this dish is substituting some sort of oil for bacon grease, at which point it becomes vegan friendly. 

If you have all sorts of produce that needs using up, don’t hesitate to add it to the mix. Although traditional Maque Choux prioritizes the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisine (onion, celery, and pepper), there’s no rule against including other vegetables as well. Some recipes also call for tomatoes, so acidity is a welcome addition to Maque Choux. 

This dish may not be your typical Cajun and Creole fare, but it’s just as delicious as any of the other specialities.

Boudin

Boudin on Street Stall

No two cooks are exactly alike, and no two versions of Boudin are either. One of the many beauties of Cajun and Creole cuisine (the food that has most recognizably adopted Boudin), this Louisiana favorite can vary wildly depending on who prepares it; it may look like an ordinary sausage, but there’s all sorts of extraordinary flavor hiding inside. 

A Traveling Classic

Boudin originated in Europe, though the origin of the word is unknown, and is thought to be where the word “pudding” comes from. The term has grown to encompass all different kinds of sausages around the world, particularly in France, Germany, Canada, and most famously in Louisiana. 

It’s not difficult to trace how Boudin made its way into the Cajun and Creole tradition when you look at all the places it’s been eaten historically, as well as today. The Cajun community was a group of French colonists who settled in Canada, but were eventually thrown out by the British as they refused to subscribe to Protestantism. They re-settled in Southern Louisiana, carrying with them remnants of their French heritage. 

In Louisiana, Boudin has had room to grow and flourish. The Cajun people settled in rural areas of the state, and without much money or abundant resources, they kept up with the French tradition of whole-animal butchering, which meant they utilized every piece of the animal possible. 

Of course this is common everywhere in European tradition, with dishes like Haggis. In France, this practice is evident in dishes like Ris de Veau; in Louisiana, it’s apparent with dishes like Boudin that make animal organs more palatable by grinding them up. 

Since Boudin is such a sweeping term, many can actually be blood sausages, but this is less common in Cajun tradition, and therefore doesn’t align with most peoples’ understandings of Boudin. Most of the time, Boudin refers to a light pork sausage. The animal based casing is usually filled with ground pork (often all different parts of pork), rice, and a healthy blend of spices. 

In Louisiana alone, there are all kinds of versions of Boudin, so it’s hard to make generalizations about the specific flavors, but despite that it’s safe to bet that anywhere you get Boudin in Louisiana, it’s going to be delicious. 

Nothing Is Standard

Like all of Cajun and Creole cuisine, Boudin as it’s known today was born out of the melting pot of cultures present in Louisiana in the 18th and 19th centuries. French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean descendents all resided in the state (in either urban or rural settings) and contributed the flavors and traditions of their homelands. The Creole culture of New Orleans has put its own spin on Boudin over the years as well, especially since it’s a dish that was also made by islanders. 

Boudin is a perfect example of this blended cuisine. The only standard for creating Cajun Boudin is that it must contain meat and rice (plus some of the bold seasonings that Cajun cuisine is famous for)—beyond that, each chef puts their own spin on the sausage. In fact, Boudin is sometimes prepared without a casing, making the term sausage a loose interpretation. 

This dish started out as a way for the Cajun population to maximize the use they got out of every animal that they butchered, but it has grown into a celebrated tradition that encourages individualistic style and expression. Many Boudin recipes have been passed down through generations. 

Boudin Recipes

With such wide variation expected and even encouraged for creating Boudin in the Cajun and Creole style, it’s good to establish a basic recipe from which to jump off. This one is a fairly standard incarnation that can help you get a feel for the basic process. 

Ingredients:

  • Pork
  • Rice
  • Onion, celery, and bell pepper
  • Garlic, cilantro, and parsley 
  • Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
  • Casings

This version of Boudin includes what’s known as the Holy Trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisine, which simply refers to the use of onion, celery, and bell pepper in practically any dish. Those vegetables, as well as the herbs, are not a necessity for making Boudin, but the seasonings, pork, and rice are. 

Once you have your ingredients gathered, you can get to work on actually creating the sausages:

  • First, boil and simmer the pork until it becomes very tender. You can also cook the rice at this time. 
  • Add the vegetables, herbs, and seasonings to the pork broth as you grind the meat. Once the veggies have softened, add the meat and rice and allow the mixture to cool. 
  • Rinse the casings before stuffing, and place the sausages in a pot of simmering salt water until they are plump and firm, indicating that they are cooked. 

Boudin can be served as an entree or as a component of any number of Cajun dishes, like Gumbo and Jambalaya. 

Taking a Different Approach

The loose definition of Boudin lends itself to some pretty wide variations of the dish. The most popular of these variations in Louisiana is something known as Boudin balls; in this version, the Boudin filling is simply deep fried rather than stuffed into a casing. These are often served as an appetizer with some sort of accompanying sauce. 

Boudin

In a sense, these are like a deconstructed sausage, and they have become wildly popular outside of Louisiana as well. Other Boudin variations can come from the type of meat chosen. While pork is most common and traditional, shellfish varieties also fall in line with Cajun and Creole tradition. 

Beyond meat changes, vegetable variations are also common in Boudin. Though many recipes include the holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper, plenty of others do not. You can experiment with different combinations of vegetables and herbs in the filling, or stick to the bare-bones version of meat, rice, and seasonings.

Gumbo

Gumbo Dish

There are plenty of Louisiana classics that draw foodies to The Big Easy, but perhaps none of them is more iconic than Gumbo. The state dish of Louisiana, Gumbo is a stew-like dish that features meat, a roux, vegetables, and a strong flavor of characteristic Cajun seasoning. 

A Louisiana Specialty

The cuisine for which this distinctive Southern state is famous is now known collectively as Cajun and Creole, but back in the day these two types of food were distinct. Cajun was born out of French colonists who had been expelled from Canada when the British took over; they relocated to Louisiana and brought with them some of their French traditions that had been modified by the harsher Northern lifestyle. 

Creole was a culture based in New Orleans which originated with the wealthy French and Spanish elite families who had settled there. However, the definition of Creole eventually moved into a more inclusive space that also encompassed people of color with African and Caribbean heritage, which is why you’ll see shades of those cultures in the cuisine. 

As far the history of Gumbo goes, the first record of it being served was around the turn of the 19th century. It appeared in both the New Orleans Creole community as well as the rural Cajun one. 

The word Gumbo actually derives from an African word meaning okra, which would seem to suggest two things: that okra was, at one point, a more popular method for thickening Gumbo (it is still sometimes used), and that the dish was first called by its modern name in the Creole community, though it appears to have originated as a Cajun dish as well. 

Gumbo was originally so popular, particularly in the Cajun community, due to the fact that it is inexpensive yet filling. When resources were scarce, Gumbo provided a flavorful and economical way to feed an entire family, since it can be prepared in very large proportions with just a single pot.

A Step Above Stew

Essentially, Gumbo is a hearty stew that can also be (and frequently is) served with rice. It echoes some of the more famous French dishes prepared in the same fashion, like Coq au Vin. Because of the fact that so many of its components are interchangeable, Gumbo can be tweaked to fit almost any taste. 

Equally appealing to its flexibility is Gumbo’s cost effectiveness, the same thing that made it desirable 200 years ago. For the same reason these sorts of dishes, like Kielbasa Stew, became favorites in Europe, they thrived in America. With so few ingredients, and such an easy method of preparation, it’s not hard to see why Gumbo has remained popular for so long. 

Creating Gumbo 

Gumbo practically makes itself, so as long as you put in the effort to combine the ingredients in the right proportion and are cognizant of checking on the dish as it’s cooking, you’re sure to wind up with an excellent meal. 

All Gumbo recipes are a little bit different, particularly in terms of what sort of meat they call for, but this one uses a rather traditional style. It is a chicken and sausage Gumbo (the two are often thrown together in this dish), but many traditional shellfish versions are popular across the state as well. 

Ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs and Andouille Sausage 
  • Onion, bell pepper, celery
  • Okra
  • Water
  • Butter and flour
  • Garlic, basil, thyme, bay leaf
  • Cayenne, black pepper, kosher salt

Here, a roux and okra serve as the thickening agents for the gumbo, which stars both chicken and Andouille Sausage. The process of preparing the ingredients should only take about 15 minutes once you have them all:

First, boil and shred the chicken breasts.

  • As you do that, you can also boil and simmer the okra as you make your roux with butter and flour. 
  • Add onions, peppers, and celery to the roux once it has sufficiently darkened. 
  • Next, stir in the okra and Andouille Sausage. After they have had time to simmer, mix in the chicken, herbs and spices.
  • Allow the entire concoction to simmer over low heat until it has combined nicely and achieved the proper texture. You can then serve it over rice, or on its own as a stew. 
Gumbo in a Bowl

Give Your Own Gumbo a Go 

There is no right or wrong way to make Gumbo so long as you adhere to a few rules: always use the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cuisine (onion, celery, and bell pepper), always make your own roux from butter and flour, and always have at least one source of protein to build the dish around. 

From there, recipes vary greatly. Many people in Louisiana have firmly held beliefs about what makes a great Gumbo, but there are very few actual guidelines for the dish. One of the most common variations is the meat which can generally be broken up into a few categories: chicken, sausage, chicken and sausage, seafood, and other types of game meat. 

Since Louisiana has traditionally had a pretty robust Catholic population, there’s also a Gumbo variation for those abstaining from meat (as Catholics do weekly during Lent). This version is served with a plentiful base of leafy greens rather than meat; modern versions may also include a small amount of seafood, but this isn’t part of the tradition. 

If you want to experiment with addition additional vegetables (like greens, or carrots) to your Gumbo, that’s not beyond the scope of the dish. So long as you cook them down until they’re soft and willing to blend with the rest of the dish, you’re still well within the bounds of Gumbo. 

Gumbo is a flavorful and filling dish that echoes the rich Louisiana culture, take a little time to give yourself a taste.

Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Jambalaya isn’t a foreign word that means something else (like many exotic sounding dishes are), and that is appropriate given that it’s a dish not quite like any other. It stands to reason that an individualistic meal should have an original name, and that’s exactly what happened when Cajun and Creole cuisine developed Jambalaya. 

This dish features three main components: meat, rice, and vegetables. They’re often all cooked together in a single pan and spiced boldly, in the Cajun and Creole style. 

A Louisiana Tradition

The history of Jambalaya cannot be told without mentioning the history of Cajun and Creloe cuisine. Though it’s now largely considered a single conglomerate, Cajun and Creole meant two very different things back in the 1700s when they first developed. 

Cajuns were French colonists from Canada who had been banished by the British during their conquest. In turn, they relocated to rural areas of Louisiana and brought with them some of their traditional French cooking sensibilities, modified by their recent experiences in the far North. 

Creole, on the other hand, originally referred to the wealthy French and Spanish families in New Orleans. This is why, like in Mexican cuisine, you’ll notice Spanish influences in Cajun and Creole cooking, in addition to French flare. Creole cooking was more elevated and grandiose, as opposed to the Cajuns who simply ate what they could find. Eventually, the term Creole also expanded to include people of color living in the area, and so African and Caribbean influences are obvious in their cuisine. 

When it comes to Jambalaya, both Cajun and Creole traditions include recipes for this dish. The only real difference between traditional Cajun Jambalaya and traditional Creole Jambalaya is that the Creole version includes tomatoes, where the Cajun version does not. 

In all likelihood, Jambalaya was probably developed as a means to feed large groups of people without requiring too much money or too much effort. Even so, this simple dish is delicious enough that it’s still one of America’s (and certainly one of Louisiana’s) favorites even today. 

Everything but The Kitchen Sink

Jambalaya is different from other rice and meat dishes in that it simply requires the cook to throw all of the ingredients into a pot and let the flavors mix together. Though it is often confused with Gumbo, Jambalaya is much thicker, whereas Gumbo more echoes some other ethnic stews

Unlike some dishes that are carefully balanced with their ingredients, Jambalaya was likely created (and became so popular) because it allows you a wide berth in terms of what you can add while still remaining true to the tradition. 

What’s more, despite being largely considered a rice and meat dish, Jambalaya does have a vegetable base. Something called the holy trinity is used in almost all Cajun and Creole cooking; it simply consists of onion, celery, and green pepper. Often, these vegetables are added to a roux and allowed to cook down until they are quite soft. 

While its preparation and ingredients are unique, the freedom to make Jambalaya your own through variation is perhaps its most lovable characteristic. 

How to Make Jambalaya

Jambalaya recipes will often differentiate between being Cajun or Creole, but this simply refers to whether or not you add tomato. This means that if you choose a Creole version but omit the tomato products, it’s technically Cajun. In reality, all Jambalaya belongs to the nebulus of Cajun and Creole cuisine. 

This dish can be prepared with a number of different meats, but this recipe goes for a triple header instead of choosing just one. 

Ingredients:

  • Celery, onion, green pepper (the holy trinity)
  • Cajun seasoning (cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder)
  • Chicken, shrimp, and sausage
  • Chicken stock
  • Tomatoes 
  • Rice 
  • Okra

Notice that in this version of Jambalaya, Okra is used as a means of thickening the dish rather than a roux. Once your ingredients are prepared, making Jambalaya is a breeze:

  • First saute the meat and vegetables separately. 
  • Mix the sauteed items together with the rice, liquids (stock and tomatoes), and seasonings.
  • Cover the mixture and allow it to cook for about half an hour. 
Serving Jambalaya

Then all that’s left to do is taste your Jambalaya, and add any additional seasoning you may like. The great thing about this dish is that you don’t have to fuss with any sides—they’re already included in the entree. 

Tweaking The Recipe

Common Jambalaya variations generally come from the protein source. This dish lends itself to basically any type of meat, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Even more gamey meats like bison or venison that you may feel a bit squirmy about eating on their own can add interesting flavor to Jambalaya. If you strictly prefer seafood, opt for shrimp or a white fish. 

The means of thickening Jambalaya also leaves some wiggle room for personal preference. Generally, a roux or okra are the preferred methods for keeping the dish moist without allowing it to become soupy, but if you have a keen culinary mind, the integrity of your Jambalaya won’t be interrupted by a different thickening method. 

The holy trinity is pretty non-negotiable for Jambalaya, but that’s not to say you can’t add extra vegetables in addition to the big three. Obviously, some variations call for tomatoes, but that’s not the only thing you can add. Corn, potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms are all common in Cajun and Creole cuisine, so if any of those sound like welcome additions to your Jambalaya, don’t hesitate to throw them in. 

Jambalaya is a dynamic kind of comfort food: it’s filling, hearty, and flavored to the hilt; plus, it takes significantly less time to make than many other comparable dishes. Do yourself a favor and throw some rice, meat, and veggies in a pot with a healthy helping of Cajun seasoning, then enjoy the work that the flavors will do for you.

Langue De Boeuf

Langue De Boeuf

Sirloin, Ribeye, Strip, and Flank may be beef cuts you’re familiar with—but what about Tongue? If the concept of eating beef tongue sounds a little foreign, that’s because it is: langue de boeuf is a French delicacy that may just surprise you if you give it a try. 

A Cut Above The Rest

Langue de boeuf literally translates to beef tongue, and it’s not all that different from other cuts of red meat, aside from having a higher fat content. In the French preparation, langue de boeuf is chopped into much smaller pieces (the tongue itself usually weighs several pounds) so that it is virtually unrecognizable. From there, the dish is usually prepared with a healthy helping of sauce and served with some sort of starch. When cooked properly, langue de boeuf will simply melt in your mouth, and you’ll likely forget you ever had an aversion to the dish. 

Waste Not, Want Not

While the French have long embraced langue de boeuf as a national treat, they were far from the first to do so. In fact, humans have been enjoying tongue for millions of years; hunter-gatherers didn’t have much room to turn up their noses at any cut of meat. In ages ago, tongue was likely a sought after dish due to its high fat content more than its flavor, but this long held appreciation for the dish explains why it has appeared in so many modern cultures’ cuisines. In addition to France, Mexico, Japan, and even the United States have historically enjoyed beef tongue. Now, you can enjoy langue de boeuf at Le Bistrot de Paris and Caves Petrissans, both in Paris. 

The Proof Is in The Prep

Cultures across the world eat beef tongue, each with their own unique methods of preparation. In Mexico, they put tongue in tacos, much like they would any other cut of beef. Some Asian cultures even serve beef tongue cold. What makes langue de boeuf unique is its preparation; instead of pretending that beef tongue is the same as every other cut of beef, the French have created a specific format for langue de boeuf recipes. 

Making Langue De Boeuf 

langue de boeuf recipes

When you break down the mechanics of any langue de boeuf recipe, it’s clear that the most time consuming part will actually be creating the sauce, as the meat and starch cook rather quickly and simply (oftentimes in the same pan as the sauce). This detailed recipe, which serves langue de boeuf with lentils, can be broken down into a few steps:

  • First, heat butter, onion, garlic, and lentils in a saucepan.
  • Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, tongue, and a number of seasonings to create the sauce.
  • Allow this combination to boil. 
  • Finally, remove and slice the tongue, then serve with lentils and tomato sauce. 

Swapping Sauces and Starches

Of course, the easiest variations of langue de boeuf recipes involve different sauces and starches. Potatoes are commonly served alongside tongue, and Madeira sauce was famously touted as a beef tongue aid by Julia Child. Consider the fatty texture of langue de boeuf, and think about what sorts of flavors might best manage that texture for your palate. From there, you’ll have an easier time experimenting with sauce and starch combinations. 

It might not be your favorite cut of beef (yet), but give langue de boeuf a try and you may just see why this French delicacy has been a part of the human diet for millions of years.

Boulette D’Avesnes

Boulette D’Avesnes

What’s spicy, pyramidal, and red all over? Boulette D’Avesnes, of course! This cheese is a European curiosity that no one other than the French could have dreamed up, but don’t let its unusual appearance keep you from experiencing the wholly unique flavor. 

A Fully French Favorite

Famous for its love of cheese, it’s no surprise that French cuisine is responsible for the creation of Boulette D’Avesnes. It hails from a small village on the French-Belgian border called Avesnes, where this cheese was originally created as a means through which to cut down on waste from dairy farms. Boulette means cones in English, so the name of this cheese is quite literal in its translation: cones of Avesnes. One look at this cheese, and it’s clear how its creators dreamt up that name. Boulette D’Avesnes was originally made as a buttermilk by-product on farms; basically, it was at one point a creation of leftover scraps. Now, it is made of Maroilles paste formed together by hand. 

This soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese is generally spiced with parsley, pepper, cloves, and tarragon, giving the cheese itself a strong, distinct flavor that is easily recognizable as a French cheese. The flavor is further compounded through aging and an unusually spicy rind. 

While boulettes were originally meant to be eaten within a month of creation (back when they were the product of scraps), these cheeses now age well in cellars, gaining their distinctive coloring in the aging process from paprika or annatto, both of which serve as a natural sort of food coloring. The rind on this cheese is what gives it the distinct spiciness for which it is so well known. Boulette D’Avesnes has an unmistakable funky odor, which is only further compounded when aged and allowed to mature.

Boulette D’Avesnes may be the spiciest cheese produced in France, and is certainly one of the most fragrant. This cheese is easily recognizable, as its odd color and irregular (because it is molded by hand) shape are unlike that of any other cheese. Once inside the spicy rind, the texture of the cheese is doughy and pungent, further adding to the uniqueness of this cheese. The softness makes it easily spreadable, so it’s a great addition to any cheese course, and the sharp flavor can be dulled by being spread on bread. 

In Demand, But in Short Supply

Because this cheese only comes from one village in France, the authentic version is not available in great abundance. While the process of creating Boulette D’Avesnes is more streamlined than it was years ago due to its increased popularity, it is still a small operation, and therefore it’s difficult to acquire this cheese even in Europe. It’s virtually impossible to get your hands on this cheese in the United States, due in part to the fact that some Boulette D’Avesnes is made with raw milk. In fact, even the internet comes up dry if you search for an online marketplace willing to ship Boulette D’Avesnes stateside. 

Naturally, the easiest place to acquire Boulette D’Avesnes is in France. You can sample this unusual treat at a number of French restaurants, and even buy it in shops. Nearby UK also has access to Boulette D’Avesnes, both in stores and through online shopping. 

Two Versions of One Cheese

The two variations of Boulette D’Avesnes are raw milk and pasteurized; while you probably know that pasteurized cheese is permitted in the U.S. by the FDA and raw milk cheese is not, you may not know exactly what these terms mean. 

Essentially, pasteurized cheese is made with milk that has first been heated to 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, and raw milk cheese has no such stipulation. The logic behind the practice of pasteurization is that it will kill any harmful bacteria that may be lurking in the dairy; on the other hand, it is argued that raw milk cheese has a more diverse and replicable flavor profile. Proponents for raw cheese believe that pasteurization threatens the integrity of a cheese’s natural flavor. 

Raw milk cheese, like Boulette D’Avesnes, is commonplace in France, but less so in other parts of the world. The pasteurized version of this cheese is typically only procured for commercial use due to the hefty price tag, and how difficult it is to locate. Beyond the pasteurized vs. raw divide, the only real variation in different specimen of Boulette D’Avesnes is in their physical appearance. Since each wedge is molded by hand, there is bound to be some discrepancy in size and shape. 

Imitation Is The Highest Form of Flattery

French Cheese

Due to the fact that there is little specification or regulation, cheese imitating Boulette D’Avesnes has popped up from various other points of production. Unfortunately, these imitations vary widely in terms of flavor and quality, and can sometimes make it difficult to differentiate an authentic Boulette D’Avesnes. 

The best way to ensure that you’re sampling the real version of this cheese is to purchase it from a reputable shop or a quality restaurant, ideally while in France. These imitations may be interesting and flavorful, but you’ll be cheated out of the authentic experience by settling for them. 

Boulette D’Avesnes French Cheese

Complementing The Boulettes

If you can get past the unusual, brick-colored appearance and especially strong aroma of Boulette D’Avesnes, you can consider some of these potential pairings to more thoroughly enjoy this unusual French cheese:

  • Traditional Gin
  • A Good Beer (whatever that may mean to you)
  • Honey Drizzle

Boulette D’Avesnes is considered by some to be an explosion of French cheese flavor, so you’ll need a similarly distinct flavor to accompany it properly. If you’re the particularly adventurous sort, you could even give each of these pairings a shot to decide which one you think suits the boulettes best. 

Though Boulette D’Avesnes may not be the most widely available cheese, this French delicacy is an unmissable treat for lovers of all things unique and delicious. If given the opportunity to try it out, don’t let this fiery delight pass you by.

Kielbasa Stew

Kielbasa Stew

Culinary connoisseurs know kielbasa is more than just a funny sounding word. In fact, kielbasa stew is a culturally rich, flavorful dish that tastes like it requires hours of preparation when in reality, it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes of active preparation. 

Old World Favorite, Modern Day Delicious

A hearty stew that features kielbasa sausage, broth, and cabbage, this dish could feed an army without costing all that much time or effort. Kielbasa stew can be extremely thick or verge on the consistency of a chunky soup, but the consistent throughline is the presence of both kielbasa sausage and cabbage. Oftimes, traditional versions will also feature kidney beans as a prominent ingredient. 

Kielbasa is a traditional Polish sausage. In Poland, kielbasa can be any type of sausage made of any meat, but in the U.S. kielbasa is typically thought of as a classic u-shaped sausage. Because of this origin, kielbasa stew became a popular dish in Poland, Germany, and other surrounding countries long ago. This means that some traditional versions of kielbasa stew are actually prepared with sauerkraut, as well as caraway seeds, both of which are common in traditional recipes from this part of Europe. Modified versions still seek to carry on the cultural traditions of these countries today. 

Traditional Flavors with A Facelift

Kielbasa

This stew features flavors that aren’t all that common in modern cuisine. Often incorporating vinegar or some other element of acidity, it’s clear that kielbasa stew is a long-established dish with historical significance. The true beauty of kielbasa stew is the same today as it was at its creation: it’s a filling, inexpensive, and delicious meal made largely of ingredients that you probably already have sitting idle in your pantry. What’s more, even if the recipes don’t call for an item you’d like to use up, chances are it will work well in kielbasa stew. 

How to Make Kielbasa Stew

The preparation of kielbasa stew depends largely on whether you plan to make a traditional or updated version:

  • A more traditional kielbasa stew features kielbasa sausage, cabbage, potatoes, kidney beans, broth, vinegar, and a series of seasonings. It will likely take a bit longer to prepare as you’ll have to peel and slice the potatoes, then cook most of the ingredients separately before adding the beans, vinegar, and flour at different points.   
  • An updated version of kielbasa stew includes kielbasa, cabbage, broth, tomato soup, peppers, and seasonings. It won’t feature the same historical authenticity, but will only require that you add all of the ingredients at once after browning the sausage. From there, you’ll simply need to let the stew cook until well blended, stirring as it does. 

Though there are small differences in prep time, the biggest factor in choosing which sort of stew to create depends simply on the flavor profile you’re looking to achieve. Since it is such an old dish, there are plenty of kielbasa stew recipes to choose from with ingredient and flavor variations sure to match your or your family’s preferences. 

Updating and Altering Kielbasa Stew

Some of the most common variations in kielbasa stew recipes include:

  • Adding additional root vegetables like carrots 
  • Incorporating sauerkraut as opposed to shredded cabbage
  • Opting for unusual broth or soup bases

Technically, to be a kielbasa stew, a recipe need only call for kielbasa and some sort of broth base. Beyond that, there are plenty of common inclusions, but you’re free to experiment with ingredients. 

The classics are classics for a reason—find out why this dish has a long standing reputation as a favorite when you make your own kielbasa stew.

Chili-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Nothing spices up a recipe rotation like a little spice. Chili-stuffed poblanos won’t leave you panting for a glass of water, but they’ll break you out of a meal rut faster than you can cook them—which is pretty fast. //www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/close-roasted-poblano-pepper-stuffed-melted-704601343 Classic Flavors for Modern Palates Chili-stuffed poblano peppers are just what they sound like: halved and cleaned poblano peppers broiled, then filled with ground meat, chili, and cheese. The result is a delicious chili filling encompassed by a tender, slightly spicy blistered poblano. Of course, the specifics of the recipe can be interpreted in a variety of ways, allowing for a lot of wiggle room to accommodate household preferences. This dish has descended from Mexican tradition, evident in the both bold flavors and main ingredients. It’s possible that chili-stuffed poblanos drew inspiration directly from dishes called chiles en nogada and chiles relleno, both of which have ties to the city of Puebla and feature poblano peppers stuffed with meat. However, chili-stuffed poblanos have traded in the filling of their potential ancestors (which includes things like nuts and raisins) for a more crowd-pleasing variation that relies heavily on meat, tomato, and cheese. Healthy, Hearty, and Authentic to Boot //www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/homemade-roasted-quinoa-stuffed-poblano-peppers-565723624?src=N5wriFK9hNXOaGnrmhAUug-1-28&studio=1 A favorite among dieting enthusiasts, chili-stuffed poblano peppers are unusual in that they can accommodate very low carb meal plans. Another unusual aspect of this dish is the fact that, although it has certainly been modified to fit a wider range of palates, its authentic roots are immediately evident. Despite being altered somewhat, main staples of Mexican cuisine like bold spices, creative use of peppers, and a meat stuffing are all present in chili-stuffed poblanos. Making Chili-Stuffed Poblano Peppers Creating chili-stuffed poblanos can be extremely simple or highly involved, depending on whether you’re the type who wants to create everything from scratch or make things as simple as possible for yourself. Assuming you don’t have time to dedicate to making chili from scratch, the process of preparing chili-stuffed poblanos will look something like this: First, you will want to preheat your broiler and begin cooking the meat on the stove. Once the meat is cooked and drained, you can stir in a can of chili, ½ a cup of cheese, one chopped tomato, as much or as little green onion as you’d like, and any salt, pepper, or other seasonings. Meanwhile, remove seeds from as many poblanos as you’ll need, and cut them lengthwise. Brush the peppers with oil, and broil them with the backs up for about five minutes, or until the skin blisters. Using tongs, turn the peppers over, add your filling to the open side, and sprinkle with additional cheese before broiling for another minute or two. Once the peppers have cooled somewhat, they’re ready to serve. You can mix up some pico de gallo while your chili-stuffed poblano peppers cook if you’d like, but the dish will be delicious without any additional toppings, too. Changing Up Chili-Stuffed Poblanos Because this dish is so simple, plenty of recipes exist to accommodate different tastes and diets. Some common variations include: Using ground turkey instead of beef for a healthier option Adding rice to the filling Making the chili from scratch so it’s spicier, or includes beans Beyond adding a meat and chili filling to a blistered poblano pepper, there are no hard and fast rules for making chili-stuffed poblanos. Feel free to experiment with toppings and filling ingredients until you strike the right balance. The same old favorites inevitably get a little stale over time; this conundrum presents the perfect opportunity to throw a little spice into your dinner routine with chili-stuffed poblano peppers.

Nothing spices up a recipe rotation like a little spice. Chili-stuffed poblanos won’t leave you panting for a glass of water, but they’ll break you out of a meal rut faster than you can cook them—which is pretty fast. 

Classic Flavors for Modern Palates

Chili-stuffed poblano peppers are just what they sound like: halved and cleaned poblano peppers broiled, then filled with ground meat, chili, and cheese. The result is a delicious chili filling encompassed by a tender, slightly spicy blistered poblano. Of course, the specifics of the recipe can be interpreted in a variety of ways, allowing for a lot of wiggle room to accommodate household preferences. 

This dish has descended from Mexican tradition, evident in the both bold flavors and main ingredients. It’s possible that chili-stuffed poblanos drew inspiration directly from dishes called chiles en nogada and chiles relleno, both of which have ties to the city of Puebla and feature poblano peppers stuffed with meat. However, chili-stuffed poblanos have traded in the filling of their potential ancestors (which includes things like nuts and raisins) for a more crowd-pleasing variation that relies heavily on meat, tomato, and cheese. 

Healthy, Hearty, and Authentic to Boot

Poblano

A favorite among dieting enthusiasts, chili-stuffed poblano peppers are unusual in that they can accommodate very low carb meal plans. Another unusual aspect of this dish is the fact that, although it has certainly been modified to fit a wider range of palates, its authentic roots are immediately evident. Despite being altered somewhat, main staples of Mexican cuisine like bold spices, creative use of peppers, and a meat stuffing are all present in chili-stuffed poblanos. 

Making Chili-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Creating chili-stuffed poblanos can be extremely simple or highly involved, depending on whether you’re the type who wants to create everything from scratch or make things as simple as possible for yourself. Assuming you don’t have time to dedicate to making chili from scratch, the process of preparing chili-stuffed poblanos will look something like this:

  • First, you will want to preheat your broiler and begin cooking the meat on the stove.
  • Once the meat is cooked and drained, you can stir in a can of chili, ½ a cup of cheese, one chopped tomato, as much or as little green onion as you’d like, and any salt, pepper, or other seasonings. 
  • Meanwhile, remove seeds from as many poblanos as you’ll need, and cut them lengthwise. 
  • Brush the peppers with oil, and broil them with the backs up for about five minutes, or until the skin blisters. 
  • Using tongs, turn the peppers over, add your filling to the open side, and sprinkle with additional cheese before broiling for another minute or two. 

Once the peppers have cooled somewhat, they’re ready to serve. You can mix up some pico de gallo while your chili-stuffed poblano peppers cook if you’d like, but the dish will be delicious without any additional toppings, too. 

Changing Up Chili-Stuffed Poblanos

Because this dish is so simple, plenty of recipes exist to accommodate different tastes and diets. 

Some common variations include:

  • Using ground turkey instead of beef for a healthier option
  • Adding rice to the filling
  • Making the chili from scratch so it’s spicier, or includes beans 

Beyond adding a meat and chili filling to a blistered poblano pepper, there are no hard and fast rules for making chili-stuffed poblanos. Feel free to experiment with toppings and filling ingredients until you strike the right balance. 

The same old favorites inevitably get a little stale over time; this conundrum presents the perfect opportunity to throw a little spice into your dinner routine with chili-stuffed poblano peppers.

Chicken Enchilada Bake

Chicken Enchilada Bake

Cheesy, packed with flavor, and ready in under an hour—what could be better than that? The chicken enchilada bake is a Mexican style casserole that tastes like a meal which should require hours slaving in the kitchen, but in reality it won’t take you more than 15 minutes to prepare. 

A Flavorful Adjustment to an Old Classic

Chicken enchilada bakes closely mirror their cousin, chicken enchiladas. The difference lies in the fact that instead of rolling the enchiladas, the ingredients are layered in a deconstructed fashion in a casserole dish. This allows you to use more chicken, tortillas, enchilada sauce, and sour cream to create a more flavorful dish, but it also minimizes the effort the dish requires. When prepared with even proportions, a chicken enchilada bake will have good structure to match its delicious taste. 

The chicken enchilada bake has roots firmly planted in Mexican history. Corn tortillas were an item frequently used by Mayans, even in a dish quite similar to enchiladas as they’re known today. The simple tradition of rolling meat in a corn tortilla then smothering it with cheese and sauce was passed down through generations of Mexicans, recorded in a number of cookbooks. The leap to preparing chicken enchiladas as a bake was likely the result of large families for whom rolling individual tortillas was simply too time consuming. 

Sometimes Less Is More

The beauty of a chicken enchilada bake truly lies in its simplicity. The only necessities for creating a stellar version of this dish are chicken, corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, cheese, and sour cream—just five ingredients for an entire home cooked meal. What’s more, additional toppings can easily be added without disrupting the overall flavor of the dish, so it’s easily customizable to fit any taste. 

How to Prepare a Chicken Enchilada Bake

Chicken Enchiladas

Making a standard chicken enchilada bake will just require a few simple steps:

  • First, preheat the oven to around 400 degrees.
  • Make sure you have at least 4 cups of shredded chicken (using a rotisserie chicken is the easiest option), about 10 corn tortillas cut into pieces, one can (or at least 10 ounces) of enchilada sauce, and as much sour cream and cheese as you feel you need.
  • Begin layering the ingredients, starting with shredded chicken or tortillas until you’ve filled the casserole dish.
  • Finally, cover the dish and bake it for around 45 minutes. 

Once this is done, just allow the casserole to cool, cut it into pieces and serve. If you wish, you can even garnish with scallions or cilantro to give your time saving dish an elevated feel. 

Make The Bake Your Own

Enchiladas

The nature of chicken enchilada bake recipes leaves a wide berth of variation options. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Adding salsa to the enchilada sauce layer
  • Throwing jalapenos, tomatoes, or black olives into the mix
  • Sprinkling diced onion, avocado, and tomato over the top
  • Substituting plain greek yogurt for sour cream as a healthier option

Beyond these additions, you can play with the proportions of ingredients. If you prefer a sturdier chicken enchilada bake, you can cut down on the sauce and sour cream you include. If you are more concerned with bold flavor than neatness, amp up the sauce and cheese ratios in your casserole, and consider adding some hot peppers. Since this dish requires so few ingredients, you have a lot of room to experiment until you find a version that suits you best. 

With time at a premium in this fast-moving world, any dish that maximizes flavor without requiring hours of work is a treasure, and a chicken enchilada bake offers just that.