Frank's Cajun Stew

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 20, 2011 at 2:58 PM

2 lbs. lean boneless chuck, cut in chunks

2 lbs. lean pork, cut in chunks

1 tsp. Frank Davis Beef Seasoning

1 tsp. Frank Davis Pork Seasoning

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 lbs. extra fresh mushrooms, quartered

1 whole head garlic, peeled and cloved

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 cup chicken broth

2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet

1 bunch green onions

1/3 cup Italian flatleaf parsley, finely minced

2 bay leaves

3/4 stick butter

¼ cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

2 lbs. Louisiana shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 lbs. white or brown steamed rice

 

First, place the beef and pork cuts on a sheet of waxed paper on the countertop and sprinkle them liberally with the seasonings.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to "high" in a 5 quart cast iron or heavy aluminum Dutch oven.

Then when the oil is up to temperature, begin searing the seasoned meats—a few pieces at a time—until until they're all uniformly browned.

Take special care not to crowd too much meat into the pot all at once though—the temperature of the oil will fall and all the juices will render out of the beef and the pork, leaving them stringy and dry.

When the meats are done, remove them from the pot with a strainer spoon and place them into a deep bowl, leaving the oil in the Dutch oven.

Now drop the mushrooms into the pot (again, not all at once!) and quickly stir them around to coat them with the oil.

When the whole batch is in, reduce the heat to medium, put the lid on the pot, and let the mushrooms cook for about 10 minutes to soften and "sweat."

Note—it’s the juices from the mushrooms that will form the flavor base for your stew, so take your time with this step.

Now you're ready to start putting the rest of the dish together.

Without removing the mushrooms, drop in the garlic cloves (all of them—whole).

Then, one ingredient at a time, stir in the wine, the mustard, the chicken broth, the Kitchen Bouquet, the green onions, the parsley, and the bay leaves.

Then when everything is thoroughly mixed, put the beef and pork pieces back into the pot (along with all the drippings that rendered out while they were resting in the bowl) and stir the pot once again.

At this point, reduce the fire to "low," put the lid back on the pot, and simmer the stew for at least an hour.

Do not look in the pot! Do not stir the stew! Leave it alone—I promise you it won't burn!

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, make a light French roux with the flour and butter.

Then when the meats are "fall-apart tender" (which should take about an hour or more of slow simmering), remove them—and the mushrooms—from the pot again with a strainer spoon and place them briefly back into the large bowl.

Now bring the remaining liquids in the Dutch oven up to a slow boil and stir in the milk.

All you do now is begin whisking in as much of the roux as you need to thicken the gravy.

Remember, though, you have to let the gravy cook for about five minutes or so to actually reach its "thickened peak."

Now this is the time when you drop in the shrimp and stir them around in the hot gravy.

It is also the time when you add your salt and pepper and make your final seasoning adjustments.

One note here: As the shrimp cook (which won’t take but a few minutes) they will sweat out some of their natural juices, thereby thinning out the gravy a little. But that’s what you want them to do.

Finally, when you think the shrimp gravy is just right, stir the meats and mushrooms back into the pot and uniformly mix everything together one more time.

When the stew is piping hot, ladle it generously over a plate of rice and serve it alongside a piece of buttered French bread, a cold tossed green salad, and a glass of your favorite chilled red wine.

I done made you hungry, huh?

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CHEF'S NOTES:

1--If you'd like to "spice up" the stew a bit, about halfway through the meat simmering process, sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes.

2--If you happen to add too much roux and your gravy turns out too thick, simply stir in a little additional milk or chicken broth to get back to the consistency you desire. Once again, though, remember that the shrimp will also thin out the stew a little bit, so don’t make the gravy too watery at the outset.

3—If you don’t have any of my beef and pork seasonings on hand, you can simply use 3-4 teaspoons of your favorite Cajun all purpose seasoning instead.

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