Easter Traditions: Cajun Easter Foods and Recipes
From Acadian to Cajun
Cajun is a name for a culture of people with a rich intermixed heritage and lots of good food. I know about them because of three people: a chef called Justin Wilson, whom I used to watch on TV for two years of Saturday mornings; a preacher with a sense of humor named Jesse Duplantis; and a fiddler I used to watch on TV when I was a child, but whose name I don't know at all.
Chef Wilson used to talk to his food as of it were a person. I have tons of recipes from that show. Jesse used to ride a motorcycle in New Orleans and sometimes chased prostitutes on foot down the street with a Bible smiling and shouting, "I want to show you something." The Mafia took a liking to him, which is interesting, as well.
I don't know what became of the fiddler, but I liked his music.
Cajun Easter Ham
- 1 pre-cooked 6-pound boneless ham, spiral cut if you like
- 2 whole large sweet potatoes
- 2 whole Bartlett pears
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup fig preserves (optional, and you might use apricot instead)
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
- Pinch cinnamon, nutmeg, and file (pronounced "fee-lay") seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 Bartlett pears halved lengthwise
- Cajunized Glaze (see recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Poach the sweet potatoes and pears together in hot water in a cooking pot over medium heat until fork-tender. Drain and cut into 1-inch size cubes.
- In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat and the add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are wilted, 5 minutes.
- Add sweet potatoes, pears, raisins, and figs and sauté longer until everything is blended and looks like a fruit compote or chutney. Add your seasonings and the nuts and mix well.
- Remove pot from heat and cool on the countertop (set it on a hot mat or a clean towel).
- Slice the ham horizontally through the middle about ¾ of the way and fill the center with the seasoned fruit mixture upwards about an inch. Cover the top of the ham and pin into place with metal skewers.
- Cover the ham top with pear halves and glaze and bake just about 25 minutes.
- 1 cup cane syrup or white sugar
- 1 cup Creole-style (or your favorite type) mustard
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon file seasoning or sassafras leaves, crumbled (I like the sassafras)
- Mix all ingredients together and use in Step 7 above.
Cajun Rice Dressing
Serves 12 or more
If you want a vegetarian dressing, eliminate meat and chicken soup and use additional vegetables, like eggplant and mushrooms.
- 1 1/2 lbs ground chuck
- 1 lb calf liver diced or ground (or use hot spicy sausage)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 2 cans French onion soup (or 2 packets and make it up)
- 2 cans cream of celery soup
- 2 cups chopped bell pepper
- 2 cups chopped green onions
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 4 cups cooked rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Brown all meats and drain off the grease.
- Add onions and bell peppers and cook until onions are transparent.
- Add green onions and sauté for one minute.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix. Pour into casserole dish and bake at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes. Don't let it dry out by overcooking.
Smothered Fried Cabbage
- 1 large head cabbage (white, not red), coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces bacon
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 cups water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place cabbage and onions in a large pot.
- Cut bacon into 3-inch pieces and add into the pot. Boil over medium heat until cabbage is tender and water is gone.
- Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, sugar, seasonings and fry the cabbage until golden.
- Serve as a side dish or as a main course over your rice dressing.
Sweet 9-Inch Crust Pie for Your Favorite Filling
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Add egg and mix together.
- Combine flour, salt and baking powder and add slowly to butter mixture, beating well.
- Roll dough out into portions on a floured board to about 1/4 inch thick and place the crust into a greased 9-inch pie pan.
- Pour blackberry, raspberry, or fig preserves into the crust, then add top crust and crimp edges. (Use your favorite filling anytime.)
- Bake at 350 degrees about an hour or until done to (knife blade comes out clean).
Background of Cajun Food and Culture
The original Acadians arrived in Canada around 1600 AD from France. They were explorers arriving about the same time as did the Spanish, Irish, Scottish, English, and Basque.
These Acadians settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, as well as a few small communities in the State of Maine, but largely in a place called L'Acadie in Eastern Quebec Province.
Maritime Provinces and L'Acadie
Unfortunately, the soon-to-be "Cajuns" were driven out in the middle of the 18th century by the British. Their farms were burned down and many were killed in shipwrecks as well. Longfellow wrote a poem about the people and their trials in attempting to reunite their families down in Louisiana after the expulsion - Evangeline. Please see a poignant excerpt from its ending below.
Some families are still trying to find relatives in Canada and Louisiana 300 years later.
They migrated all the way southward to South Louisiana, and Native Americans have done before, and intermarried among the Native Americans, French, Spanish, German, and American (British descent) peoples.
The Acadian people picked up a lot of cooking traditions and I have a box full of their recipes. Their foods carry the legacy of over 400 years of joys and sorrows.
Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches
Dwells another race, with other customs and language.
Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic
Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers from exile
Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom.— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, excerpt from "Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie"
Cajun Fiddle by Miss Emily
Doug Kershaw, Cajun Fiddler
Cajun Web Sites
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS