My job requires travel to Louisiana. Due to lingering hours waiting for connecting flights at airports, I’ve had ample time to hone in on where to eat the minute I land.
I was interested to hear from a Lafayette native that northern Louisiana – specifically north of Alexandria if you drew a line across – embodies an entirely different culture than the southern half, which she claims has a more Cajun attitude toward food and life.
Louisiana natives, what is a Cajun attitude toward life? Because whatever that is, I’m pretty sure I want it.
I had flown into Shreveport and noticed there were a lot of Mexican restaurants. All makes sense, as someone described the Shreveport area as “Eastern Texas.” But I was set on Cajun food this trip.
Some research into the best restaurants in the Shreveport area yielded Crawdaddy’s Kitchen and Marilynn’s Place – and Marilynn’s Place ended up being the place to go, because it was the closest stop from the airport and I was I’m About To Pass Out-level hungry.
Side question for local Louisianans – what other standbys do folks recommend in the Shreveport area?
I love southern flavors, I think. But one thing I have quickly assumed to be true – is that there’s probably no such thing. I’m no expert in southern food, and I wish I was. I’ve just noticed that there’s an added emphasis on seafood, spices, and deep smoky flavors, compared to other American cuisines. All things I’m a loud fan of.
Back home and inspired to cook something southern-tasting, this recipe came to mind.
The roux which serves as the foundation for many southern meals, most notably Jambalaya, was the inspiration for the brown butter used start to this risotto off.
The rest of the cooking is relatively predictable – it’s a risotto after all!
I think a bold, homemade seafood stock made from prawn carcasses would be an amazing cooking liquid for this instead, but here I just used store-bought chicken stock.
The other reason to love risotto? It’s therapy. A slow, mindless process that quells the busy thoughts – at least for me. Maybe this is the Cajun way to eat – take-your-time kind of food. I hope you enjoy. 😊
I N G R E D I E N T S
Serves 2 to 4, depending on appetites.
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 liter chicken stock (I like College Inn)
- 2 / 3 cup parm reg
- 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
- 10 slices hardwood smoked bacon, small diced
- 1 / 2 white onion, small diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 dozen shrimp, almost cooked through and cut in\ bite sized pieces, plus additional whole shrimp for garnish, if desired
- Louisiana Hot Sauce, if desired
- Hot peppers of your choosing, if desired
D I R E C T I O N S
- Heat the stock until it’s simmering – you will be ladling heated stock into the risotto throughout the cooking process.
- In a large pot, brown the bacon until it’s crispy. Remove from the pot. Add the onions, sprinkling with a dash of salt. Saute the onions for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape up any brown drippings from the bacon on the bottom of the pan.
- In the meantime, in a small saucepan, heat the butter. Cook on medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes, until the milk solids begin to brown. Remove from the heat as soon as you see the liquid turn golden.
- Add the butter to the onions, garlic, and add the bacon back into the pot.
- Stir in the arborio rice, and allow to absorb some of the liquid from the pot and toast lightly, about 3 minutes.
- Add a ladle of stock and stir. Keeping the heat on medium-low, gently stir the rice intermittently, and when the rice appears to get a bit dry, add more stock. After about 20 minutes, test the doneness of the rice. The rice should be al-dente, and the consistency of the risotto should be creamy.
- At this point, add the parm reg, and stir until incorporated. Then add the shrimp, and stir until heated through, cooking for an additional 2 minutes or so.
- Serve hot, topped with Louisiana Hot Sauce, sliced hot peppers, and extra shrimp, if desired.