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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Versions of some recent restaurant dishes

A few weekends ago, my wife and I headed to Monroe to attend my niece’s wedding. When looking for a restaurant to eat at, we wanted one that was not part of a chain. Trapp’s on the River was suggested. Since it was a New Orleans style restaurant, we could not pass it up.

I like to try these types of restaurants. I, of course, compare them to my cooking. This is a restaurant that I would eat at again. Naturally, I will always choose my cooking over others. Two of the things we ate were good. Today I want to share my versions of two of the dishes. The first was a Crawfish Pie. For an entree, I had Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya. Gather up your ingredients, and Let’s head to the kitchen.


Crawfish Pie

The crawfish pies that were served with the sampler appetizer platter were not homemade. The pies were good though. They were the Mrs. Wheat’s brand, which includes rice in the filling. My recipe that follows is a more traditional crawfish pie, where the mudbugs shine.

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 cup onions, finely chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1 cup water (a slurry)

1 pound peeled crawfish tails

1/4 cup green onions, chopped, green part only

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped

6 3-inch pie shells or 1 9-inch pie shell, prefaced according to package directions.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, about 6 minutes. Add salt, cayenne, black pepper, tomato paste, paprika and 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and water. Cook mixture, stirring often, until it is smooth and slightly thick. Add crawfish and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add green onions and parsley and adjust seasonings to taste. Remove mixture from heat and cool. Spoon mixture into the pre-baked pie shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350℉ until the mixture is bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes for small pie shells or 15 minutes to 18 minutes for a 9-inch pie shell.

Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

The jambalaya that I ate was Cajun style, no tomato products. It contained plenty of chicken and andouille sausage. Here’s my version of that dish. I use some tasso for extra flavor.

2 pounds andouille sausage, slice in bite sized pieces

2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

4 cups onions, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 pound tasso, cubed

3/4 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, whole

3/4 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon white pepper

1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes

5 1/3 cups chicken stock

2 3/4 cups long-grain rice

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

In a 2 gallon Dutch Oven over high heat, cook sausage, stirring constantly so the sausage does not burn. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, stirring constantly. Browning the sausage and chicken should take about 10-15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic; sauté for about 15 minutes or until the onions are very limp and clear. Add the tasso, thyme, basil and peppers. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat to medium and gently break up the rice. Use a spoon to stir and scrape the bottom to insure that no rice sticks to the bottom. After about 5 minutes, fold in the parsley. Continue to scrape the pot. When the jambalaya returns to a boil, reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer, covered, for at least 25 minutes.

It’s a pleasure when I find a restaurant out of town that pleases my tastebuds, especially when it comes to Creole or Cajun food. I would say it was my best meal but you can’t compete with the atmosphere of a family wedding. Although the food was not as good, the bride was beautiful. A great time was had by all!

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