Real Cajun NPR coverage of Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana by Donald Link and Paula Disbrowe. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
NPR logo Real Cajun

Real Cajun

Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana

by Donald Link and Paula Disbrowe

Hardcover, 255 pages, Random House Inc, List Price: $35 |

purchase

Buy Featured Book

Title
Real Cajun
Subtitle
Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana
Author
Donald Link and Paula Disbrowe

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Book Summary

A well-known New Orleans chef presents an introduction to traditional Cajun cooking, along with a collection of recipes for seafood, meat, poultry, side, and vegetable dishes, and desserts.

Read an excerpt of this book

Awards and Recognition

James Beard Award (2010)

NPR stories about Real Cajun

Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Real Cajun

Lake Charles Dirty Rice
Serves 6 to 8

This recipe appears at just about every occasion in Cajun Country. Whether it’s a holiday, funeral, family reunion, or potluck dinner, you can bet there will be at least one form of dirty rice or rice dressing. At the Link family reunion in Robert’s Cove, I counted six versions, all different. The essential ingredients are few, but flavor and texture vary greatly.

The main difference between dirty rice and rice dressing is that rice dressing is generally made with ground beef or pork, whereas dirty rice is made with pork and chicken livers. Many people think they don’t like liver, but when it’s balanced with other flavors, the liver taste is not overpowering. I’ve served this deeply flavored rice to many people who claim they hate liver, only to have them love it.

2 tablespoons canola oil
4 ounces ground pork
1/2 cup chicken livers (about 4 ounces), pureed1
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cups cooked rice
1/2 bunch scallions (white and green parts), chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork and chicken livers and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the salt, black pepper, and chili powder and stir often, but resist the impulse to stir constantly: You want the meat to stick to the pan and get crusty. Add ¼ cup of the chicken broth and cook until it has evaporated, allowing the meat mixture to get browned and crusty and stick to the pan once again. Add the onion, celery, garlic, jalapeño, and oregano and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are nicely browned and crusty and beginning to stick to the pan. Add the rice, the remaining 1 ¼ cups broth, the scallions, and parsley. Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is heated through.

NOTE: When making dishes that involve rice, remember that your flavor base will seem overly seasoned until the rice absorbs the flavors. In Cajun cooking, salt is the most crucial ingredient to get right, so you’ll want to taste the dish after the rice cooks and adjust accordingly.