Creole Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage
February is a fantastic month for food. Sure, the weather can be unbearably cold and frustrating, but we've got so many celebratory occasions that call for making deliciously comforting dishes. All month long, we can celebrate Black History Month by making and eating flavorful soul food recipes. Then, it's time to celebrate Mardi Gras season, most notably in New Orleans, the home of some of the most iconic Mardi Gras celebrations in history. So there is no better time than the present to get better acquainted with the 49 best Creole recipes that deliciously bring together the traditions of both Black History Month and Mardi Gras.
Where Is Creole Food From?
But what is Creole food? Creole food originated in Louisiana and blends food traditions from African, European and Native cultures. It combines bold, spicy and tangy flavors with rich sauces, smoky meats and signature ingredients to create a cuisine all its own. Creole cuisine is full of delicious takes on seafood, pork, rice, soups and decadent desserts.
What Kind of Seasoning Does Creole Food Use?
Contrary to popular belief, not all Creole food is spicy. It is, however, very well-seasoned with big and bold flavors, starting with the "holy trinity": bell peppers, onions and celery together form the base for many traditional Creole dishes. Other common Creole seasonings include cayenne pepper, black pepper, bay leaf, oregano and garlic. Another signature characteristic of Creole and Cajun cuisine is the roux: a combination of fat and flour that came from French cuisine and is cooked until brown as the base of many Cajun and Creole dishes.
Related: 45 Best Cajun Recipes
What Are 5 Examples of Creole Cooking?
Jambalaya: also called "red jambalaya," Creole jambalaya often contains meat, seafood, tomatoes and vegetables cooked in seasoned rice. The origins of jambalaya are traced back to Spanish paella as well as to West African jollof rice.
Gumbo: an iconic Creole and Cajun soup usually made with seafood, meat, and Andouille sausage. Gumbo is made with a medium or dark roux and is often thickened with filé or okra.
Crawfish étouffée: a rich, flavorful stew made of a light roux, crawfish, vegetables and seasonings. Étouffée can also be made with shrimp.
Red beans and rice: originating in Haitian cuisine, red beans and rice is a slow-cooked stew of red beans, vegetables and smoked pork and/or sausage, served over white rice. Red beans and rice was traditionally made on Mondays with leftover pork since ham was traditionally served on Sundays and Mondays were for washing clothes.
Related: 17 Classic New Orleanian Mardi Gras Food Recipes
What's the Difference Between Cajun and Creole Food?
Creole food and Cajun food influence each other greatly and share many similarities, but they are not interchangeable. Cajun food originated with the Acadian people, French settlers who were exiled from Canada to Louisiana in the 1700s and settled in the rural areas of Louisiana. Cajun food, therefore, was traditionally limited in its ingredients and focused more on meat-based, generously-seasoned dishes.
Creole food, on the other hand, comes from the blend of African, European and Native cultures that developed in New Orleans. These influences are clear in the prominence in Creole food of tomatoes (Spanish influence), rémoulade sauce (French influence), filé powder (Native influence), and okra (West African influence). Creole food also often reflects the wider variety of ingredients that were available in the city, which is why a Creole roux is sometimes made with butter instead of oil.
Either way, the two cuisines overlap and influence each other a great deal, which is why this collection of amazing recipes contains influences from both!