Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ground Meat & Carrots

Ground meat & carrots over mashed potatoes

A truly old-fashion and delicious Cajun meal is ground meat and carrots. Everybody who lives "down da bayou" or in South Louisiana has eaten ground meat and carrots at some point - and usually it's a favorite. It was my husband's favorite when he was a kid (he still loves it!), and Serenity (who is a very picky eater), gobbled up three (toddler-sized) helpings tonight! It's a kid-friendly meal for sure!

I see food labeled "Cajun" just because a bit of hot sauce, hot peppers, or hot spice is added and think: that's
not Cajun cuisine! People from Louisiana don't necessarily use a ton of hot sauce or peppers, or hot spice in our meals. The best way I can describe a "Cajun" meal is: flavorful!

We start almost every meal off with onions. We also use diced bell peppers, parsley, garlic, & celery for most of our meals too. In fact, we use those ingredients so much, you can find a prepared mix of them (or most of them) at every grocery store in South Louisiana. Saves lots of time; no more chopping! It's called "Creole Seasoning". Most everyone uses Tony Chachere's (Tony C's) too. It's like a Cajun's version of "Season All", and we use it in just about everything. It can have a bit of a kick, but you don't use a lot - moderation is the key! If you don't have Tony C's on hand, then just use salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and whatever else you feel like adding at the time. We use all kinds of spices, but that doesn't mean we use
hot spices in all our meals!

A wonderful example of this is ground meat and carrots. It's a quintessential Cajun meal! It's not a "hot spicy" meal - but it
is bursting with flavor! I would normally use fresh carrots, but if you're pressed for time or just want a real quick meal, this is how I prepare it:

2 pounds of ground chuck
3 or 4 cans of sliced carrots
1 - 1 1/2 cup of Creole Seasoning
Worcestershire sauce
Tony C's
Garlic powder
Fresh ground pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon ketchup
French bread

While browning the ground meat, add Creole Seasoning, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, Tony C's, and garlic powder. I like to add a little bit of fresh ground pepper, but it's not necessary. Make sure you cook the meat real good -
no pink! Once the ground meat is done, drain off the fat, then continue to brown it a little longer until it's a nice dark caramel color. You can add a couple more dashes of Worcestershire sauce too if you want (I do). Next, add the cans of sliced carrots (the juice too!) and cook on medium-high heat until most of the liquid is gone. I like the "sauce" that is left over after everything cooks down. If you don't like that, then keep cooking until all the liquid is gone. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes. Now add the ketchup - be sure you stir it in there real good!

That's it! You're done! Most Cajun's eat it over rice, but I like it with mashed potatoes too. Serve it with a hunk of fresh french bread and let me tell you; talk about one happy family!

A quick word on the ketchup: taking the advice of my friend Teensie, I added a tiny bit of ketchup to entice Serenity to eat some - she's a picky eater, so I didn't know if she'd turn up her cute little nose and refuse to eat it or what, and she
loves loves ketchup. Well it worked - Serenity ate it up!! I didn't find it changed the flavors at all, if anything - it enhanced them! Mm-mmm GOOD!

BTW: If you don't have (or can't get) Tony C's, add whatever seasonings you want, but I wonder how it would taste if you add McCormick's Grill Mates® Hamburger Seasoning? We use that sometimes in our hamburgers and it's great. Maybe I'll try it one day!


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