Category Archives: Cajun Cookin’

Recipes inspired by my home, Louisiana.

O’Connor Angus Short Ribs, Pork Belly Jambalaya, and Creole Salad!


O’Connor Angus Short Ribs, Pork Belly Jambalaya, and Creole Soak Salad!

O'Connor Angus Short Ribs with Clean Slate
Photos taken by friends of mine moments before they prepared O’Connor Angus short ribs for our dinner together

What started as an occasional dinner at my friend’s home has become an almost weekly tradition. We all like to get together and to cook themed dinners usually centered around a special, hard-to-find ingredient. For this particular dinner, the star was  O’Connor Angus Short Ribs. I made Pork Belly Jambalaya and a Chop Salad with homemade Cajun Vinaigrette.  My friends oven-baked the short ribs using Clean Slate BBQ Rub and Clean Slate BBQ Sauce. 🙂

Continue reading O’Connor Angus Short Ribs, Pork Belly Jambalaya, and Creole Salad!

Announcing the Clean Slate Catering Menu!


I am extremely excited to debut my first few menu items! I will of course be adding more and more things to the Clean Slate Menu like a Tex-Mex and Italian selections.  Please contact me if you have any questions about prices, or if you have any custom requests. I am happy to entertain your inquiries!
CLEAN SLATE MENU

CLEAN SLATE MENU Jambalaya CLEAN SLATE MENU PULLED PORK CLEAN SLATE MENU RIBS

Clean Slate will be at Rockwell’s Bakers Dozen this weekend!


Clean slate billboard

Several readers have inquired about acquiring Clean Slate recipe items.  Starting Friday August 22 through Sunday August 24, several Clean Slate items will be available at the Sweet Life by Ange booth in the Bakers Dozen located in Powerplant Mall in the Rockwell Center. The booth is located on the Concourse Level, where most of the mall’s restaurants are situated. If you are not able to make it, just contact me at +63 916 618 5443 and I will be happy to suit your needs. I will be posting a complete menu after this weekend for even more available items like Jambalaya trays, and Pulled Pork Sandwiches. But for now, on short notice, here is what I could whip up for this weekend.

Offerings 8.21
My famous Cajun Seasoning Blend as well as the Barbeque Spice Rub I used for my Pulled Pork recipe will be available.
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My Barbecue Sauce is not just for grilling! It is literally great on everything; ribs, chicken, you name it!

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What attracted me most about these containers was the convenient little spoon. 🙂
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Seriously try the pickles.

Thanks again everyone for the support. I welcome any questions you may have !

-Jonathan

Clean slate billboard

 

Triple Pork Jambalaya


Triple Pork Jambalaya

Triple Pork Jambalaya
Triple Pork Jambalaya
Adding the Meat to Jambalaya Pot
Pork Belly, Pork Leg (Pata), and Lucban Longganisa Sausage Jambalaya

My usual recipe for Jambalaya has shrimp, chicken, and Andouille sausage. Today I will be using the Filipino favorite, Longganisa Sausages (I searched for something with as little sugar as possible) Pork Belly, and a Marinated Pork Leg (pata cut). I really enjoy my visits to the butcher, between my questions and their availability I feel like we both learn a lot from the cultural mash up. I was searching for a secret ingredient familiar in soul food called ham hock. This cut comes from the leg of the hog in the area between the ham and the ankle. The hock adds tons of savory flavor to dishes like turnip greens and beans because it contains many small bones, tendons, fat and skin. When I asked for the hock I got strange looks (as usual) but was told they had a whole leg. Here in the Philippines this part of the leg is deep dried and called crispy pata. I had them cut the lower portions into sections and the top meaty area near the ham cut into one inch thick steaks.

Pork leg aka Pata (that lower part is the hock)
Pork leg aka pata (that lower part is the hock).

I prepared the meat with a 3/1 ratio of brown sugar and salt rub.

Brown sugar and salt act as a cure, but I wasn't going to be waiting that long.
Brown sugar and salt act as a cure, but I wasn’t going to be waiting that long.

I covered with a marinade of olive oil, black mustard seed, fennel seed, star anise, black pepper, chili oil, rice vinegar, and few tablespoons of my Cajun Seasoning for some cayenne heat. I let this marry for about two hours while I prepared the pork belly, sausages, and the vegetables. Oh, and also to shoot some photos for you guys.

Olive oil based marinade.
Olive oil based marinade.

After braising the pork leg in the oven for a few hours on low heat. Afterwards I strained the juices while letting the meat rest.

Draining the Pork Leg
I am collecting the drippings because nothing goes to waste. I have plans to make that into a BBQ sauce for something tasty.

After cooling, I trimmed the meat from the leg. I am saving the skin for making cracklin’ later.

Choice cuts from the pata.
Choice cuts of pata.
Pork Pata2
I tossed this in the trusty hot iron skillet to give it a little color.

Pork Pata1

 

The tendon and bones went into a sauce pot. I collected the braising drippings from the pan and gelatinous fats from between the skin and meat and placed it all into the sauce pot as well. I reduced this on medium-high heat to congeal everything. I then strained out all the solids from the liquid and continued reducing over low heat into an even thicker sauce by adding honey and rice vinegar.

The rendered juices. Better know as concentrated flavor.
The rendered juices. Better known as concentrated flavor.

I bought a lot of pork so expect triple pork sliders in a future post. But back to the Jambalaya. The pata would be providing a dense meaty flavor to the dish. I wanted something to add richness; something soft and luscious. For ingredient number two, I chose pork belly.

Nice, thick, bone in pork belly.
Nice, thick, bone in pork belly.

 

Season the belly simply to let the natural flavors shine.
Don’t overcomplicate the seasoning, let the natural flavors shine.

Rub the pork belly with liberal amounts of olive oil, course ground sea salt, course fresh ground black pepper, and a handful of brown sugar. Score the skin by cutting a quilted pattern through the skin until the fat layer. This will turn into cracklin’ as the pork bakes.  Shape a sheet of aluminium foil into a rectangle with high sides and an open top to hold the drippings from the pork belly.

This will save you from ruining a glass casserole dish.
This will save you from ruining a glass casserole dish.

Place skin side up so it dries while the meat side sits in the hot rendering fats tenderising. Depending on thickness of your pork belly this usually bakes for at least an hour and thirty minutes.

Pork Belly4
Trim of the skin and don’t forget it has a few bones.
Pork Belly2
The final dish is always better when you spend time crafting each individual ingredient.

 

A good cook is always tasting.
A good cook is always tasting.

Remove the belly and trim the crispy skin off. Then cut the meat into cubes.

Cut it into thick cubes so the melt in you mouth texture doesn't disolve in the pot.
Cut it into thick not thin cubes so the melt in your mouth pork belly doesn’t disolve in the pot.
I recently read an article that said pork was healthier than chicken...
I recently read an article that said pork was healthier than chicken…

Place the skin back in the drippings and bake until fried and crispy to your liking.

For the third little piggy I decided to use longganisa sausages. Typically longganisa is packed with sugar, so after some hunting I found a less sweet variety seasoned with garlic and herbs called Lucban.

This come packed in a plastic casing with string. Don't forget to remove that before it hits the hot pan.
These come packed in a plastic casing with string. Don’t forget to remove that before it hits the hot pan.

 

They may look like breakfast sausages. But for what they lack in size they make up for in flavor.
They may look like breakfast sausages, but for what they lack in size, they make up for in flavor.
After browning the outside, slice thick and char one side.
After browning the outside, slice thick and char one side.

Ok that is all for the meat course, lets move on to the veg. Louisiana has a largely Catholic population and this influence rubs off on a lot of things. The core of scores of traditional Cajun dishes begin with their version of a French mirepoix, or what is better know as the Cajun Holy Trinity.

The Cajun Trinity consists of Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper.
The Cajun Trinity consists of Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper.
The Trinity consists of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
The Trinity of peppers.

 

Multi-colored peppers are not required, but green bell pepper are a necessity.
Multi-colored peppers are not required, but green bell pepper are a necessity.

Bell Pepper- I like to use different colored peppers for both visual aesthetic and a less overall bitter taste versus only using green. Also did you know the more red in color the bell pepper, the more vitamin C it has? Bell peppers are also very high in antioxidants, crunch crunch.

Onion- I used four onions for this dish. I prefer red onion but any color will do. The smaller and more firm red onions are the best in my opinion.

The onions here in the Philippines remind me of shallots.
The onions here in the Philippines remind me of shallots.

 

Celery- If the celery stalks still have their leaves, save them don’t throw that away! They are super tasty and good in anything from salad to salsa or just as a garnish.

Ants on a muddy log anyone?
Ants on a muddy log anyone?

 

So I know it's called the trinity, but what dish is complete without garlic.
So I know it’s called the trinity, but what dish is complete without garlic.

 

Press with the flat of your palm to break apart the clove.
Press with the flat of your palm to break apart the clove. Use it all.

 

And the last vegetable ingredient is the green onion or spring onion. Cut the green tops from the white bottoms. The whites are for cooking. Save the green for garnishing the plate and a fresh green crunch instead of stringy wilted mush if cooked.

Spring Onions

A colorful trinity.
A colorful trinity.

Take your pork belly drippings and place them in your stock pot on medium high heat. When the grease is a hot enough temperature to induce a loud sizzle add all of the vegetables and stir. Careful not to burn yourself, the water releasing from the veggies with create a lot of steam and cause the oil to pop. Once everything is coated well and sizzling, reduce the heat and cover your stock pot for about 5 minutes. Don’t wait for the vegetable to soften too much and lose their color. At this point add all of the meat to the pot and stir gently, blending everything together.

Carefully stir, you do not want to break apart all your meat vegetables and rice.
Carefully stir, you do not want to break apart your meat vegetables or rice.

 

And here is the point where I totally cheated. Let me just say that the rice here in Manila is way way different than the parboiled long grain I am familiar with in the States. The last batch of from scratch Jambalaya I made turned into 20 servings of mush. So I found this imported brand that worked brilliantly.

Don't judge a hungry man.
Don’t judge a hungry man.

I let the mix come to a boil, then reduced the heat to simmer and covered the stock pot. I cooked for twenty minutes stirring once at the ten minute mark. I tested a bite of rice and it was perfect so I uncovered and removed the pot from the heat source. Time to plate!

Jambalaya Plated2
Add a crunch to the bite by adding fresh trinity veggies and green onion to the plate.
Jambalaya Pot2
I wish you could taste this.
Jambalaya Zoom2
Feast your eyes on this!
Jambalaya Pot3
What more can be said?
Jambalaya Plated3
Time to eat!

Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy with Homemade Tartar Sauce


Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boy
Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy
Cajun Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boy Board with Blue Moon
Cajun Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Po’ Boy Board with Blue Moon

Have you ever left the movie theater so affected by a film? Perhaps it spoke to you through all of its familiar similarities? That is what happened to me when I watched the incredible film “Chef” by Jon Favreau (which I highly recommend). The Andouille Sausage Po’ Boy scene really made my mouth water, and right then and there I decided I wanted to prepare my own version.

A Po’Boy (Poor Boy) is a style of sandwich popular in Louisiana and several other States in the deep south bordering the Gulf of Mexico. There are different versions depending on where you get them, but in my opinion, the best of all come from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The main reason for this are ingredients of course. Since a Po’ Boy is similar to a Submarine sandwich or a Vietnamese Banh Mi, the bread is super important. Po’ Boys are built on a French bread with a very crispy and flaky crust and extra soft white interior. My favorite Po’ Boy has always been with cornmeal battered fried oysters, dressed simply with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a flaky baguette.

I have yet to find a good source for great fresh oysters in Manila (if you know such a place, please let me know in the comments below) so I decided to go with shrimp.  Typical Shrimp Po’ Boy’s are covered with small fried shrimp. The shrimp in the Philippines are fresh and much cheaper than in the States so I decided to grill up some giant prawns for this project.

Fresh Giant Prawns
Fresh Giant Prawns

I dusted the huge shrimp with my Homemade Cajun Seasoning and grilled them on a hot cast iron griddle with some olive oil and butter.

Cajun Grilled Shrimp on the griddle
Cajun Grilled Shrimp on the griddle

In the past I spent some time working in a Cheesecake Factory, and one of their best sellers is the Shrimp Bacon Club. Inspired by this, I bought the fattest slab of picnic style bacon I could find and had the butcher slice it thick. I baked the bacon in the oven with a little brown sugar until the cracklin (skin) was crispy.

Brown Sugar Baked Picnic Bacon
Brown Sugar Baked Picnic Bacon

 

Extra thick and extra chunky tartar sauce.
Extra thick and extra chunky tartar sauce.

Instead of mayonnaise, I made a extra thick and chunky tartar sauce for the condiment.

Extra Thick and Chunky Tartar Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of drained capers
  • 1 bunch of chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of chopped dill pickles
  • 1 minced purple small onion or shallot
  • 4 rough chopped hard boiled eggs
  • 1 Cup of Homemade Mayo:

 Combine 1 egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon of our favorite mustard, around 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and whisk or place in a food processor. Slowly add 3/4 to 1  cup of oil a little at a time until emulsified. The amount of oil dictates thickness. I use nut oil for it’s light flavor, or a blend of olive oil and vegetable oil. The finished product will have a more delicate flavor and will be less expensive overall than if you were to use only olive oil.

Mix everything together and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want as smother consistency (less like an egg salad) place everything in the food processor.

OK, back to the Po’ Boy. Since the bread is such a major component of this monster sandwich, make sure you prepare it correctly with a liberal slathering of melted butter and a sprinkling of sea salt inside and out.

Baguette and Butter

Buttering the Baguette
Don’t scrimp on the butter; I like to butter even the outside crust of my baguette

Starting from the bottom, lay a thick smear of the homemade tartar sauce and some of my Pickled Red Onions along with a nice dense layer of lettuce to start the sandwich off right.

Baguette and Tartar Sauce

Lettuce and Tartar Sauce on Baguette

I topped this with the sweet and crispy bacon, the spicy shrimp, and some nice juicy and aromatic vine red tomatoes.

Shrimp and Bacon Po' Boy

 

 

The last of my Homemade Tartar Sauce, Pickled Red Onions and capers finished this masterpiece of a sandwich. To wash everything down I had an American classic beer, Blue Moon. Cheers!

 

Battered Cajun Fries


Battered Cajun FriesIMG_2771 IMG_2765

Peel a large potato; preferably a brown potato or a Russet is best if you can find them in your area. Wash off your raw potato fries and let them soak in cool water to remove the starch. This will keep them from sticking together, and it also helps them in becoming very crispy.  I like battered fries and I’m from South Louisiana so I’ll give you my secret Homemade Cajun Spice Blend recipe for this batter.

To turn the season blend into batter, add 2:1 ratio of flour to the seasoning.

Dredge the damp fries in the flour and spice blend and let them cure in the fridge. They will keep for days until you want to drop them in some hot oil. I like to eat mine with a fat dollop of Homemade Garlic Aioli it is phenomenal.