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New Orleans Barbecue: Stews and ‘Que

New Orleans is home to a vast array of food traditions, but it is best known for Creole cooking. At one time, it may have been possible to say that Creole cooking was the fancier cooking of New Orleans with more European influences and Cajun cooking the simpler food of the country folk, but this is no longer true. Today, it is difficult to distinguish between Cajun and Creole cooking as they are practiced in the home. Nowadays when applied to food, the terms Creole and Cajun are frequently used interchangeably or together. But Creole most often refers to the haute cuisine of New Orleans restaurants that developed from the intensive blending of the city’s various food traditions, many of which originated with European-trained chefs.

Many believe that food from New Orleans (Creole and Cajun) are spicy and hot. And they can be. To appreciate South Louisiana foods fully, one must remember that Creole and Cajun cooking are the products of 300 years of continuous sharing and borrowing among the region’s many cultural groups. In modern times the popularity of celebrity chefs and their use of cayenne peppers and other hot seasonings has created an interest in spicy version of favorites, like Gumbo, Boudin, Shrimp and Grits, Jambalaya, Etouffee, Po Boys, Muffaletta and Red Beans & Rice. But history shows us that in the South Louisiana Cajun and Creole cultures a correct gumbo is made without the spice. Cooks learned to infuse intense flavors by using fresh ingredients, roux, okra or file’ powder and added smoked lean meats to provide some zip and zing.


Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana, United States which blends French, Spanish, West African, Amerindian, Haitian, German, Italian and Irish influences, as well as influences from the general cuisine of the Southern United States.

Cajun cuisine (French: Cuisine cadienne, [kɥizin kadʒæ̃n]) is a style of cooking named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It is what could be called a rustic cuisine; locally available ingredients predominate and preparation is simple. An authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, with one pot dedicated to the main dish, one dedicated to steamed rice, special made sausages, or some seafood dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful or available. Crawfish, shrimp, and andouille sausage are staple meats used in a variety of dishes.

The French contributed sauces (sauce piquante, étouffée, stews, bisque), sweets (pralines, a modified French confection with pecans instead of the original walnuts), and breads (French bread, beignets or square doughnuts with powdered sugar, and corasse, fried bread dough eaten with cane syrup).

The Spanish added jambalaya (a spicy rice dish probably from the Spanish paella).

Africans contributed okra, barbecue, and deep-fat frying and reinforced the Spanish preference for hot spices and soups.

New Orleans Barbecue: Stews and ‘Que


Germans, who arrived in Louisiana before the Acadians, contributed sausages (andouille and boudin) and “Creole” or brown mustard.

Caribbean influence is seen in the bean and rice dishes of red beans and rice and congri (crowder peas and rice).

Native Americans contributed filé and a fondness for corn bread. People living closer to the Gulf of Mexico harvested shrimp, oysters, crabs and other wonderful seafood from it’s warm waters. Hunters took wildfowl, deer and wild boar along with small game. It was a normal practice to use these as a mainstay for feeding families.

Many of these foods are generally known, but far fewer are aware of lesser-known food delicacies in Louisiana as the prairie Cajun langue boureé (stuffed beef tongue) or chaudin (sausage-stuffed pork stomach).

Pork is still, by far, the preferred meat and appears smoked, barbequed, in sausages, cracklings, and vegetables, but many still savor wild game (venison, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, and quail) and fish (both farm-raised catfish and gamefish such as crappie and bream). Any fish or meat may be fried. Sunday dinners at noon, fish fries, and barbecues are common occasions.

Spring and early summer usually saw crawfish, catfish and other freshwater fish used. Late summer was a time to make chicken, duck or goose gumbo from the fowl raised at home. As the fall season approached and temperatures cooled it was common to see duck, squirrel, rabbit and all sorts of wild game brought home by the Cajun hunters.

Now that you have had a brief history lesson on the Region, it’s time to begin experimenting with your smoker and the great recipes this area has to offer. With an array of pre-mixed Seasonings available in the market today, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to taste the Region with you controlling the Heat Level of your own meals.

We have dabbled, tasted and tested numerous Spices, Seasonings and Rubs and recommend you try the following Top 5 Creole Blends:

  1.  Slap Ya Mama Original: This seasoning is recommended for all dishes, from popcorn to seafood, breakfast to late night snacks, gourmet foods to french fries. It contains Salt, Red Pepper, Black Pepper, Garlic ~ NO MSG, All Natural, Kosher. It is a great mixture of spices, not too spicy and full of flavor, everyone will love how it enhances their food! It is even great as a dry rub for grilling and smoking, as a marinade or finishing salt. They also carry a white pepper version and hot and spice Cajun to add an extra slap to your cooking.
  2. Tony Chachere Original: This extraordinary blend of flavorful spices is prized by cooks everywhere. You owe it to yourself to experience how much it actually enhances the flavor of meats, seafood, poultry, vegetables, eggs, soups, stews, and salads – even barbecue and french fries! Ingredients are: Salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder (chili pepper, spices, salt, garlic powder) and garlic. It is slightly saltier than Slap Ya mama so go easy!
  3. Zatarain’s Creole: A blend of spices that could only come from New Orleans offers a deliciously different flavor than your standard salt and pepper. Shake it on pretty much anything from meats and seafood to soups, salads and eggs. Contains SALT, SPICES (INCLUDING RED PEPPER, PAPRIKA), GARLIC, SUGAR, ONION, FLAVOR ENHANCERS AND NATURAL FLAVORS.
  4. Sucklelbusters Gator’s Cajun: Hot and Spicy is the way they make Gator’s Cajun, lay on the cayenne peppers! This extraordinary blend of peppers and spices is sure to make your mouth happy! Use in place of table salt or in recipes calling for Cajun seasoning. It is excellent on all types of meats, seafood, gumbo, soups and stews. It’s even good on French Fries. Use on any type of food. Just shake it on your food until it is salty/spicy enough for your taste. Use on: Meat and Seafood. Ingredients: Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper and Garlic. Naturally gluten free.
  5. Zatarain’s Blackening: We perfected the New Orleans classic blackened seasoning with our own unique blend of spices. Use it as a dry rub for fish, chicken, steak or other meats to give them that one-of-a-kind blackened flavor. A couple of shakes can also jazz up almost any recipe. Has SALT, SPICES (INCLUDING CHILI PEPPER, RED PEPPER, PAPRIKA), FLAVOR ENHANCERS, ONION AND GARLIC.

To cook BBQ Creole style, smoke or grill as you normally would. Premarinate or rub using Creole or Cajun spices. Pull off your protein and vegetable just before done and braise until done in a stewpot with your Recipe.

So look up your favorite recipe, follow it along, smoke your meat and combine it all together to your own Taste. Don’t forget your favorite Hot Sauce for the table, in case you’re feeling frisky and daring!

Looking for more Unique BBQ Menu Ideas? Read more about African Barbecue Traditions HERE: Cape Maaly BBQ

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