Considering we are Porch, Wine and Gravy it is about time we have some good ole Louisiana rice and gravy on here. I can’t provide you with the porch or the wine unless you travel to Acadiana but I can share one of my gravy recipes with you. This is my world famous pork roast and gravy. Okay not world famous, more Lafayette famous, okay well not Lafayette famous but it is for sure porch famous. Rice and gravy Is a way of life here. I know gumbos and etouffees and the like are what most people think of when they think of Cajun food but that isn’t our number one. Every person I know in Acadiana loves rice and gravy. When we can’t think of what to make for dinner the phrase, “I’ll just make a rice and gravy” is usually what is said. It is so popular that there is practically a plate lunch restaurant on every corner serving a rice and gravy daily. We make rice and gravy with anything and everything. Just a sample- seven steak rice and gravy, chicken rice and gravy, sausage rice and gravy, pork roast rice and gravy, meatball rice and gravy, duck, rabbit, squirrel, turkey neck, shrimp - you name it we make a gravy out of it. Along with all the different kinds of proteins, there are numerous types of gravy. Thick dark gravies, fricassees, grease gravies, stew gravies, some have a roux some don’t. Once again, the list goes on. Do you want to start a Facebook posts that gets out of control? Ask anybody here what their favorite rice and gravy is and watch the comments roll in at a lightning speed.
There are two things that will always turn into a heated debate in Cajun country: 1. Which boudin is the best? 2. Which gravy is the best? Usually, it is the same answer. The one you grew up with. Everybody will tell you their Mom, Dad, Maw-Maw or Paw-Paw made the best gravy. Rice and gravy is a peasant food. I'm sure our ancestors had little to work with so taking tough cuts of meat or whatever resources were on hand and making a delicious meal to feed a family was an important thing to know. Cajun food by nature is slow food. We cook almost everything low and slow. Our food is like us - slower moving but worth the wait. This slow cooking also allows to drink and visit more while we wait, which also explains how many of us are drunk before dinner is ready. Hey, we aren't ashamed of it. You haven’t had dinner till you have dinner with a bunch of tipsy Cajuns trying to out smart-ass each other.
Please don’t ask what vegetarian options we have, we don’t. I’ve done cooking demos and been asked what if I make this with tofu? I say “Then your not making a rice and gravy." I am sure someone will want to argue with me about this. Go right ahead, it’s a blog so you are pretty much arguing with yourself - good luck with that. If you think you will ever convince me that tofu can do what beautiful fatty pork can do, you are so wrong. That's like saying fakin bacon is like real bacon. Blatant lies! You know it’s lies. Name me one person that asked for fakin bacon as their last meal. If I am going out, I’m going out with the taste of pork lingering in my mouth. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that someone told their family they weren't eating red meat and the response was “Alright cher, I’ll just make a pork roast gravy” (you know because pork is pink not red). The older generation can not wrap their heads around why you wouldn’t want meat. Let’s be honest neither can I. I feel bad for my vegetarian friends during the holidays. Trying to find a dish without some sort of pork product in it at a Cajun Thanksgiving is like trying to find a happy person at the D.M.V.
I chose the pork roast gravy first because I don’t think people realize how much we love pork. We love pork! We will add pork to anything and everything. Making greens beans? Put some bacon in there. Potatoes are just there so we can throw the sausage in. What are you going to do with that biscuit? Put some Boudin on it.We keep jars of bacon fat and lard in our fridges. Throwing away bacon grease is a sin. Once again we aren’t ashamed, we know what makes food taste good. Considering how popular Cajun cuisine has gotten I’d venture to say we aren’t wrong.
This recipe is a very classic and simple cajun dish. This gravy is a roux based gravy. If this your first time making a roux, it may take a couple tries. Roux is a sneaky bitch! Just when you think you know what she's about to do she turns around throws you a curveball. One second you swear its been 10 minutes and it's still the same color and you turn around to take a sip of your drink and then the damn thing is two seconds from burning. Roux based gravies tend to be thicker so keep some broth around if you need to thin it out. I make this gravy with a butter roux so it’s very rich and is bound to leave you wanting a nap. Butter roux needs to be diligently watched while cooking because they can burn quickly. Making roux is a marathon, not a sprint. Please take your time. A bad roux ruins the entire meal. When I burn a roux I'm inconsolable. I mean devastated. I am depressed for a couple days. I just replaying in my head what went wrong, worrying they are going to take my Cajun card for such atrocities. Feeling my ancestors glaring down at me in judgment. (I may overreact slightly to cooking mistakes)
Also lets note PLEASE be careful when making a roux, it is sticky and if you get it on you, it will be the last time you make that mistake. There is a reason it’s called Cajun Napalm.
A very important part of making a good gravy is browning your meat. No matter what type of gravy your making you must brown your meat (except seafood of course). So much flavor and color of your gravy comes from browning your meat. Making gravy takes patience. Have a couple beers while your cooking (just a couple because too many and you're on the porch gabbing away while your kitchen slowly catches fire.) Allow yourself to slow down. I love making gravies because it forces me to relax and my mind to actually stop going a mile a minute. You can keep your little bouncing smiling pills. Making gravy is my therapy.
The ingredients are simple and straight forward. If you can, try to use the best versions of them. I choose a nice fatty pork roast. They are usually cheaper so this is a win-win. Ideally, you should use a homemade broth (pork or chicken) because a good broth makes a difference. A lot of times I'll grab a chicken with the pork roast and start a stockpot going while I make my roast.
You will notice there is only onions and garlic in this dish. The holy trinity (celery, bell pepper and onion) is talked about a lot here but actually, a numerous amount of our dishes just have onions and garlic. I assume this is because celery and bell peppers weren’t readily available in the past. Make sure to slice these thinly so they melt and make that velvety gravy.
Surprisingly there has been a new addition to my gravy in the past few years. I read a Donald Link recipe where he added lemon. I balked at this. Lemon in gravy? That’s insane. Well, once again I was wrong. That little squeeze of lemon at the end just really brightens up the gravy. See some old dogs can learn new tricks.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Season the pork with Cajun seasoning rubbing the seasonings into the fat and flesh of the meat. Set the roast aside for at least 30 minutes till it reaches room temp. Once at room temp lightly dust the roast with flour, set extra flour aside to make the roux.
While your roast is sitting combine onions, garlic, and thyme in a bowl and set aside.
When the roast is ready to heat up your oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
When the oil is very hot, sear the meat on all sides until deeply browned and crusty, 10 to 12 minutes. Please take you time and brown all sides.
Transfer the meat to a plate, reduce the heat to medium, and then stir in the butter. When melted, stir in the leftover flour to make a roux and continue to cook, stirring, until the roux turns a dark peanut butter color, about 10 minutes. If you're making a roux for the first time forgive yourself if it takes a couple tries.
Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until all the ingredients are well coated and the mixture is thick. Whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, spoon some of the onion mixture over the meat, cover, and roast for about 3 hours, turning and basting the pork every 30 minutes or so, until the meat will break apart when pressed gently with a fork. You can also cook this on the stove at a slow simmer if you need the oven space. The key is to cool this roast low and slow.
If the gravy is too thin transfer the roast right to a plate. Simmer the pan drippings, skimming off excess fat, until reduced by about one-third, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Add the lemon juice and taste for seasonings.
Serve the roast smothered with a generous amount of sauce and steamed rice.
1 (6- to 7-pound) pork roast
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoons cajun seasoning or more to taste
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour( more if needed)
4 cups chicken or pork broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Season the pork very generously with cajun seasoning rubbing the seasonings into the fat and flesh of the meat. Set the roast aside for at least 30 minutes till it reaches room temp.
Lightly cover your roast with flour.
Combine the onions, garlic, and thyme in a medium mixing bowl and toss to combine.Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, sear the meat on all sides until deeply browned and crusty, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the meat to a plate, reduce the heat to medium, and then stir in the butter. When melted, stir in the leftover flour to make a roux and continue to cook, stirring, until the roux turns a dark peanut butter color, about 10 minutes.( the roux should be thick but not clumpy or runny, you may have to adjust your flour to get the right consistency)
Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until all the ingredients are well coated and the mixture is thick. Whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, spoon some of the onion mixture over the meat, cover, and roast for about 3 hours, turning and basting the pork every 30 minutes or so, until the meat will break apart when pressed gently with a fork.
Transfer the roast right to a plate. Simmer the pan drippings, skimming off excess fat, until reduced by about one-third, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Add the lemon juice and taste for seasonings.
Serve the roast smothered with a generous amount of sauce and hot steamed rice.