Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Cajun Christmas, Heaux, Heaux, Heaux

Depending on what side of the family we are spending Christmas with or what our plans end up being otherwise, we will sometimes forego the traditional Southern Christmas and instead have a Cajun Christmas! Cajun Christmas traditions are celebrated somewhat in our household every season but some years we go all out and go full blown Cajun.

We have some wonderful Louisiana traditions that may seem crazy to the rest of you and are very different than the way you celebrate Christmas yet, they are so incredible and unique!

Instead of Santa Claus we have Papa Noel. Papa Noel lives down in the hot, humid, swampy bayou of Louisiana. He's a Cajun legend and you'll often find momma’s (Mère’s) and daddy's (Père’s) reading such books as The Legend of Papa Noel or Cajun Night before Christmas on Christmas Eve.

While Santa is pulled in his sleigh by eight reindeer, Papa Noel is pulled in a Pirogue (pro: Pea-row) by eight alligators: Gaston, Tiboy, Pierre, Alcee, Ninette, Suzette, Celeste and Renee.

On Christmas Eve we follow a tradition dating back hundreds of years....the lighting of bon fires on the levees of the Mississippi River and in the bayous to guide Papa Noel and his alligators to the swamp to deliver gifts to our children in Bayou Country.

Christmas in South Louisiana is so unique and magical with the Cajun decorations, traditions, food and Christmas Zydeco and Jazz music.

The following are a few of our traditional Cajun dishes we serve at Christmas.

Bar-B-Q Shrimp

4 lbs shrimp with shells on (heads on, if possible)
1/2 lb butter
3-4 tbl Worcestershire sauce
3 tbl pickapepper sauce
1-1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 lg lemon
1 tsp tabasco
4 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic sliced

Melt butter in large casserole dish and add all ingredients except lemon. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice, add to mixture. Bake in oven at 350 until done. Serve in large soup bowls with lots of sauce and toasted french bread for dipping.

Copeland's of New Orleans Hot Crab Claws

2 teaspoons garlic
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoon scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
6 ounces fresh crab claws, crawfish tails or shrimp
3 ounces chicken stock
1 ounce Italian dressing

Place seasoning, herbs, garlic and half the butter in a preheated skillet; saute until butter is melted. Add seafood, chicken stock and Italian dressing; increase heat to high and toss until seafood is cooked through. Add remaining butter; swirl into the sauce. Do not boil. Serve immediately with buttered and toasted French Bread slices.

Cajun Cornbread Casserole

2 pkgs Pioneer Yellow Cornbread Mix or homemade cornbread
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 lb of Louisiana crawfish tails, chopped
1 lb shrimp, peeled
1/2 lb chopped hot sausage
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream style corn
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parsley

Bake cornbread as directed per package instructions or make homemade cornbread. Crumble into a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan; add onions, celery, and bell pepper sauté mixture until the onions clear. Add crawfish tails, shrimp, sausage. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add milk and cream corn, stir until mixture is fully blended. Fold all ingredients into the bowl of crumbled cornbread, along with eggs, cheese, and parsley. Mix well, season with Tony’s to taste, transfer to a baking dish, and bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Additionally, we also have dishes from previous posts such as Crawfish Stew, Creole Crawfish Etouffee, Shrimp Creole, and Spinach Madeline. And, of course, we have a smoked or fried turkey!


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  5. my mother started a tradition a few years before she s passed from breast cancer of always have a themed christmas. the first was a cajun christmas, well this year my nephew justin be deployed in january 2014, so he be home for two years so he chose cajun christmas for 2013. i will be checking back for more ideas!!!!

  6. Congratulations, excellent blog post. We will have a very Cajun Christmas dinner this year, here in Caracas, Venezuela. I lived in Lafayette , Louisiana 5 years.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2014

  7. That Cajun cornbread casserole looks like someone hurled big time

  8. Anyone know who the artist is for the santa and crawfish pictures?

  9. Where is the photo of Gator Santa in the boat from?