Being born and raised in Louisiana gave me a wonderful appreciation for food. So many flavors from very simple ingredients. However, living up north for as long as I have has forced me to adapt my Cajun favorites. Boiled seafood is non-existent up here. Boudin? What’s boudin? Cracklins? Exactly.
Growing up, my mom made fricassee a lot – chicken, potato, etc. The main difference between fricassee and gumbo is the amount of liquid you end up with at the end. Gumbo is more of a soupy consistency, but fricassee is gravy to eat over rice. I prefer to eat rice and gravy.
Let me start by saying I’m not an expert on all things Cajun by any means. I can only draw on my own personal experiences growing up on what my mom cooked. That being said, let’s drill down into how I make my Cajun fricassee with a northern twist…
Both start with a flour & oil base (also known as Roux) that you brown to a rich color. After that, you add in the aromatics, liquid, seasoning, protein, etc. What I do may deviate from “the norm” but that is all based on my own experimentation and preferences. Remember that “holy trinity” of onion, celery, and carrots? Well… I personally hate celery so I never cook with it. I also don’t really like any cooked vegetables so that takes the carrots out. In every fricassee or gumbo, I always use onion. For this fricassee, I used onion, red bell pepper, and garlic.
Starting with the flour and oil base, get the mixture to a creamy texture.
NOTE: Do NOT leave this unattended. It browns really fast and the more flour you use (thicker base), the faster it cooks. Once it burns, there’s no salvaging it. You have to dump it and start over, not to mention it has a pretty foul smell.
Next, brown it up to a nice light coffee color.
I add in my onions, peppers and garlic (all chopped). I have also used: chopped any-color bell peppers, chopped roasted red peppers, chopped cubanelles or poblanos, and green onions. I feel like the original intention of this type of dish was to cook what was on-hand and still made a hearty meal. Based on that, I experimented until I found ingredients I really loved that gave amazing flavor.
Once I’ve cooked the aromatics a bit in the roux base, I start adding my liquid a little at a time to get a good blend. You can use any type of stock, water, broth, etc. I have recently started cooking with bone broth a lot so that is what I’ve used here.
Once I have a good mix, I add in seasoning. In this particular batch, I added in some liquid crab boil. Please do NOT try tasting this stuff out of the jar… it is very concentrated so a little goes a long way. Just a few splashes in a large pot is enough. This gives a backend heat – the kind that isn’t in-your-face spicy but sneaks up on you. Some salt because it needs to taste good and basically anything else you want.
***NEWSFLASH… I have never eaten File in any gumbo or fricassee. My mom never used it – so I never use it.
Back to the recipe… While this mixture simmers, I rinse off the crab. Up here, finding blue crab can be a chore so I’ve had to adapt and use other kinds. My hands-down favorite is Dungeness Crab but I couldn’t find any so I went with King Crab. Still very tasty. Most crab here is heavily salted and frozen, so I get all the ice off and make sure the outside is free from as much salt as possible. Also a good way to make sure its clean.
I put that in the pot and let it go. The longer you cook this, the better it tastes. I let this go for about an hour and the crab was already cooked. I just wanted it to taste amazing. I also added in a container of claw meat to get extra crab in there. It was on sale so why not.
I forgot to get a picture of the end so here’s a picture of what was left.
We LOVED it. It was very delicious, and the crab peeled easily (thank goodness because I forgot I didn’t have the claw crackers when I bought the king crab).
So there you have it – my Cajun Fricassee with King Crab. I use the same basic recipe and just add in chicken, sausage, potatoes, etc. I’ve also cooked pork neck bones like this. It all tastes great. Just cook it up and serve it over rice. I have discovered that my favorite rice is Jasmine and this goes really well with Jasmine rice.
What do you think?!
- ½ bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 32oz container of broth, stock, or water (I used bone broth)
- Oil & Flour (I don’t measure these but you want a well-blended, creamy consistency)
- Liquid Crab Boil (a few splashes)
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- Other liquid as needed
- Chop veggies
- In a pot, heat oil (about enough to almost cover the bottom)
- Add flour and mix to creamy texture.
- Continue stirring until brown.
- Add chopped veggies and stir for no more than a minute.
- Slowly add liquid until well blended.
- Add liquid crab and other seasonings.
- Add crab (you will likely need to add more liquid to partially cover the crab).
- Partially cover and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Serve over rice.
Couple things to note:
- The type of aromatic/veggies to use is entirely up to you. If you love celery, then by all means use it, just know that it could change the flavor.
- I sometimes add in a half can (or full can depending on how much I’m making) of condensed soup for extra richness. Types I’ve used: Cream of Chicken, Cream of Chicken & Herbs, Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Mushroom & Herbs, Cream of Shrimp. You could probably also use Cream of Celery.