Just like many things in life, Cajun cuisine is all about the timing.
“Timing as in sauteeing vegetables down to a certain point before you add something else,” explains Cody Carroll, who with wife Sam hosts Food Network’s “Cajun Aces.” “And then sauteeing garlic down or browning meat down. If you don’t know how to cook stuff and time it right, you’re not going to cook Cajun food.”
Each week on the recently premiered Saturday daytime series, the chefs and owners of two Louisiana restaurants show how to do Cajun and Creole cuisine right, sharing recipes rooted in their Cajun background from their kitchen on their family farm and demonstrating easy-to-make dishes that don’t sacrifice flavor, among them a Creole potato salad, a corn and shrimp soup and biscuits made from scratch.
They’ll also demonstrate trickier recipes like a gumbo, a Cajun standard that many home cooks find challenging.
“It’s really timing your roux right,” Cody says, referring to the dish’s butter and flour base, “before you start adding everything else, caramelizing the onions, getting everything right. And if you don’t time it, if you basically throw everything in at the same time, it turns into a soup, just a regular soup rather than a gumbo.”
Which is why some are intimidated by the dish.
“Yeah, and we learned that firsthand,” Sam says. “We actually got to go to Japan and teach different chefs in Japan how to make gumbo. And a couple of them were terrified of the roux, like when Cody was teaching them how to brown the roux, they were laughing, like making fun of him thinking he was messing up. And he was like, ‘No, this is what you’re supposed to do.’ ”
“You can do your roux over-ripe,” Cody adds. “If you go too far, you burn it, which that’s your foundation for your whole gumbo. So if you mess your roux up, then you’re done. You can’t save a bad roux.”
What book are you currently reading?
(Cody) “I’m reading a book called ‘On the Line’ by Eric Ripert. That’s like my favorite book and I read it like every day. It’s really cool.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
(Sam) “We had baked chicken (laughs) with like carrots and potatoes and onions and everything.”
What is your next project?
(Sam) “We are going to China to accompany the Lieutenant Governor and we’re going to travel through Shanghai and Beijing and cook Louisiana cuisine and kind of teach there, travel agents and all of their people in the U.S. Embassy about Louisiana food. … (They’re trying to encourage tourism to New Orleans) or just Louisiana in general. But it’s going to be interesting. We’re going to be on this trip for 13 days just trekking through China and cooking along the way. So it’ll be fun.”
When was your last vacation, where and why?
(Sam) “It was in July and we went to Jamaica. We brought our daughter to Jamaica.”