Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

October 31, 2013

Blackened Catfish with Shrimp Étouffée Sauce

 Whoo-Wee! Dis is sum kinda good.

Sitting down to a plate of blackened fish is way of life in the south, especially where seafood is in abundance and where Cajun foods take forefront to the palates of dining customers along our waterways. Spicy foods like boiled crawfish and shrimp, seafood gumbo and deviled crabs are on most menus and for a very good reason: Folks eat it up. One of our favorite items at our favorite restaurant is a blackened whole flounder pan broiled in butter and simply served with lemons. Outstanding.

Now, there are so many ways to serve blackened fish. Some like it with a Cajun maque choux, some with a Creole red sauce and some prefer the French influenced crusty appeal of a seasoned au gratin. To me, it really doesn’t matter as long as the blackening seasoning balances with the fish. Many folks think of Cajun as being overly spicy when in truth, this is far from what true Acadian style Cajun cooking is at all. Spices should bring about the natural flavors of the food prepared, not overpower.  I think this recipe does just that in bringing out the very light, mild flavor catfish with a hint of sweetness from the white fillets.

As for the sauce; this is probably the easiest étouffée sauce I have made and is very bright in flavor yet mild enough to meld all components of grits, blackened fish, and the shrimp sauce together. As with any complex tasting recipe, be sure to have all vegetables chopped, shrimp peeled and stock ready to use; have the spice mixture ready, butter melted and have everything right by the stove so that when you start, it all comes together effortlessly.

For any of you that have tried or have a desire to try my recipes and if you like fish and shrimp with a flavorful sauce, I know you will love making and serving this one. Double the recipe for 4 folks. Enjoy!

Blackened Catfish with Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
Blackened catfish with a homemade Cajun seasoning and topped with a shrimp étouffée sauce. 
2 servings (double recipe for 4)
    for the Blackened Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed thyme 
    for the Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic toes (cloves), smashed and minced
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
  • 2 ounces cooking oil or shortening
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shrimp stock
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1/2 cup green onions
    for the Catfish
  • 2 -7 to 9 ounce fresh catfish filets
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Blackened seasoning
  • Shortening (Crisco)
 prep the catfish
Dry both sides of the fillets with paper towels. Lightly salt both sides of the fillets. Place on a wire rack until ready to cook.

make the Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium high heat. Add butter and oil and when butter is melted, add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté for 10 minutes or until onions are clear. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir to make a blonde roux, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Stir in the shrimp and chicken stocks; season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken stirring often. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover to keep warm. Add a little water if the consistency becomes too thick. Stir in half of the green onions right before plating.

sauté the catfish
Dredge each filet in the melted butter. Coat with blackened seasoning to taste. Lightly coat a large heavy iron skillet with the shortening and wipe excess with paper towel. Place skillet over medium high heat and when hot (slightly smoking), place fillets into the skillet. BE SURE TO HAVE EXHAUST FANS ON! Brown each side for about 7 minutes. Serve with shrimp étouffée on top and sprinkle remaining green onions on top of sauce.

Plate on a bed of creamy stone-ground grits or long grain white rice.

Notes:  To make an easy Shrimp Stock, simmer the shells and heads of shrimp along with a little seasoning salt, 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup sherry. Reduce to 1 cup. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and discard shells.
To avoid smoking up the kitchen, fry fillets in several tablespoons of the shortening. It will lose some of the blackened seasoning but still taste great.

October 27, 2013

Roasted Pork with White Beans Cassoulet

Now this is Casual Dinning!

What could be better than having friends over for a well-developed flavorful, no-effort-at-meal-time bowl of goodness and actually having time to relax as they arrive as well as during the meal?  Having it catered perhaps... but then, there is no satisfaction in serving another someones food, not when there are easy one-pot-meals like this one.

Cassoulets are meant to be easy for a purpose. This French way of cookery is somewhat peasant in style, a little homely in nature and a whole lot of intimate causality in its feel. While my first choice is to cook with Cannelini beans, I had none in my pantry so Navy beans worked equally as well. The flavors of succulent roasted pork soaks into the starches of the beans as the meal comes together and the southern flavors, with the union of Cajun and Tex, brings about a palatable savor of a monumental homecoming. Enjoy!

Roasted Pork with White Beans Cassoulet
4 main servings or 8 sides

2 lb pork roast or pork boneless loin, roasted and chopped
4 ounces Cajun link sausage, diced (I use Conecuh brand)
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic toes (cloves), minced
3/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 bay leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves)
1 lb navy or northern beans, soaked, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth
1/2 cup sodium-reduced beef broth
1 medium potato, peeled and finely diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Keep roasted pork meat warm or have at room temperature.

Heat the cassoulet or large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and saute until light brown. Add celery, bell pepper and onion. Saute until onion is soft. Stir in the garlic and the seasonings. Add the beans, chicken and beef stock, diced potato and carefully stir in the roasted pork.

Cover cassoulet with lid, place in the oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Check after an hour and make sure beans are not drying out. If so, add more chicken broth, just enough to moistened.

Notes: Towards the end, taste the beans to make sure they are done. Soft yet not breaking apart is perfect and also be sure to taste regarding additional seasoning. I personally think the seasoning salt had enough salt but others found it needed more.
The potato is added as a binder, to form a thickener without relying on the beans to break down.

October 24, 2013

Saucy Chuck Roast for Company

Roast Superiority

When you find company coming, look no farther than an easy, tasty roast to make a bold statement. A roast with a taste of distinction will stand apart from the crowd and this recipe, using fundamental rudiments of cupboard cookery, not only sends a message but will lead the conversation.

Now normally some would steer clear of onions as the forefront of a recipe when entertaining, even informally with neighbors. Sweet onions, sometimes referred to as 'southern truffles', have a way of bringing out the natural beauty of many underlying flavors and in this case, it brings out or rather helps bind together the sensational flavors of the southerly seasoned tomato sauced beef. Enjoy!

Baked Chuck Roast with Tomato Onion Sauce
4 to 6 servings

1 -2 to 3 pound chuck roast
salt and pepper
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 -8 ounce tomato sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Remove as much fat as possible from the roast. Allow roast to come to room temperature and add salt and pepper to both sides of the roast.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place half of the chopped onions in the bottom of a 3-quart baker. Place roast on top of onions.

In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients and pour over roast. Lay the remaining onions on top of roast.

Cover with foil and cook in oven for 2 hours.

Remove foil, spoon sauce on top of roast and continue cooking another 30 minutes basting with sauce every 10 minutes.

Remove roast to platter and allow to set for about 5 minutes before slicing. Spoon onions and a little sauce over sliced meat and serve immediately.

Note: I imagine it is best to use a baker or casserole dish where the liquid will cover the beef. Otherwise, keep the roast moist as I did by spooning the sauce over the meat as it cooks toward the latter part.

October 21, 2013

Cuban Inspired Mojo-Marinated Roasted Pork

A taste of history.

Our Gulf Coast ports were the earliest entries for spices from the Caribbean islands and Mobile was a frontrunner of commerce with direct lanes to Cuba. Few folks know that Mobile later thrived in commerce during prohibition with rum-runners coming from Cuba's distilleries. This recipe does not contain rum but does have a well-balanced blend of citrus and Latin flavors. The flavors and the recipes of this inundation lingers into today bringing about main dishes like this one; one with a most delectable taste. This Cuban inspired roasted pork is succulent, juicy and mouth-watering and served proudly in homes all along our area. It is even more luscious to eat. The cut of roast is from the shoulder area and though it is skinless, it contains a thick layer of fat which continually bastes the meat as it roasts.

The marinade penetrates into the meat with a little help from a short blade knife making the flavors carry over to the last bite of meat, even in the deepest part of the roast. Enjoy!

Cuban Pork Roast
 Cooked to perfection with Latin and citrus flavors. A most palatable sauce makes itself in the pan as the roast cooks.
about 10 to 12 servings

1 -8 pound pork shoulder blade roast (boston butt)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves or 6 crushed bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons brown sugar
12 garlic toes (cloves), diced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Using a paring knife, cut 1/2-inch wide, 1-inch deep slits all over roast.
Place remaining ingredients in a large, 3-gallon sealable bag (or use a suitable container with cover) and mix to incorporate. Add the roast, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Rotate bag several times.

Remove bag from refrigerator about 2 hours before cooking time to allow it to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 325°. Pour about 2 cups of marinade into the bottom of roasting pan for making a sauce. Add 2 cups of water.

Place roast on rack in roaster pan fat side up.
Roast in oven basting with the pan liquid every 30 minutes until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork registers 160°, about 3 hours total. Add 1 cup water to pan if liquid evaporates too much and cover loosely with foil when the top begins to darken.

Let rest for 15 minutes, then carve and serve.

Cuban Pork Taco