Ayyyy, I’m turning into my mother.
Anyway, in honor of LSU’s ridiculous victory over the Crimson Tide Saturday night (and superstitiously hoping to bring a little luck to the Saints), I pulled out the big guns and made myself couche-couche for breakfast Sunday morning. This dish is as Cajun as it gets — no pig, it’s true, but it takes a few humble ingredients and lets them shine.
I’m pretty sure my grandpa ate this every single morning. As a young kid, whenever I’d sleep over, my grandma would make extra and then our silly ritual would begin.
Paw-Paw: Here, try this.
Me: (duly taking bite)
Paw-Paw: C’est bon?
Me: Bon … ?
He got such a huge kick out of that little exchange, he didn’t bother telling me what it meant until I was a little older. [The only time my grandparents really spoke French around us was when they wanted to keep their conversations private, so I didn’t start learning it until ninth grade. My grandpa was already gone by then, but I credit him with teaching me my very first French phrase.]
Even though I haven’t had couche-couche since I was a small child sitting at my grandparents’ kitchen table, I woke up Sunday morning with a craving (or envie) for it. Part skillet cornbread, part pancake, part porridge, it develops a deep, roasted flavor from the hot cast iron skillet and has a nutty crunch that plain cornbread never achieves. It’s traditionally topped with milk and sugar or just cane syrup, but I wanted the best of both worlds that morning. I didn’t break it into tiny pieces the way my grandma used to because I didn’t have the patience, but it was fine just the way it was.
Can’t wait to get home for Christmas.
Update: The November issue of F&W has a good article on Chef Donald Link’s (of Herbsaint and Cochon restaurants) recommendations for an eating road trip through Cajun country. I can vouch for Poche’s — my aunt brings pounds of their boudin to our Christmas gathering every year. So many other great things in the issue, too — the obligatory Thanksgiving section, a cheese primer, an article devoted to Oregon whiskey, and the list goes on.
recipe after the jump
MÃ¨re’s Couche-Couche from Shadows-on-the-Teche Cookbook
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups very hot water
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons oil
Sift together cornmeal, flour, and salt. Add the hot water to make a light batter. Break 2 eggs into the mixture and beat well. Add the baking powder. Put the oil in a heavy iron skillet. When very hot, pour in the batter, lower the heat, and cover tightly. Cook 5 minutes (until crust is formed at the bottom of the pot). Stir occasionally until cooked, but not dry.
Yield: 4-6 servings