Crab and Corn Pies with Corn Crab Sauce

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Kickin’ It Up A Notch
I have been a fan of Cajun food from the first time I tried it. I was introduced to Cajun cuisine during the 80s when it was considered something new and exciting—though, the food and flavors had been around for quite some time. Cajun cuisine soon became wildly popular, and it seemed like everyone had a blackened version of something.

I distinctly remember watching Paul Prudhomme and The Great Chefs of New Orleans repeatedly on PBS, while my mouth watered at the liberal use of butter, sausage, and cayenne. It was during this time (at least in my mind. It could have been earlier.) that my mother started making dinners that had a decidedly “Nawlins” flavor to them like her Barbequed Shrimp.

I was dying to eat the foods that I saw being created on the TV screen in their native habitat and had visions of eating my way through the lauded restaurants and cafes of New Orleans. Still do. Alas, that one remains an entry on my bucket list. It will happen.

In those days, Paul Prudhomme was “The Man”. He made a name for himself while cooking at Commander’s Palace. But it was his series of cookbooks and TV shows that introduced signature dishes like blackened redfish and turtle soup to people outside Louisiana and started a craving for all things Cajun. As popular as Prudhomme was, the undisputed champion of Cajun cuisine has to be Emeril Legasse.

Before “kicking it up a notch” and throwing a little “Bam” into things on the Food Network, Emeril was making some really great food at Commander’s Palace and eventually moved on to his own restaurant, Emeril’s. His first cookbook The New New Orleans Cooking introduced cooks to a contemporary version of classic Cajun cuisine and launched an empire.

This weekend my cookbook club is having our cookbook dinner and we’ve been cooking from The New New Orleans. The food in the book is great but for me, it has been more fun to go back and see, taste, and remember the recipes that I wanted to try as a kid.

Crab and Corn Pies with Corn Crab Sauce
Adapted from Emeril Legasse’s The New New Orleans Cooking
Puffy and pretty, these savory pies are an elegant version of a bayou special and set the tone for a lazy Sunday with or without guests. The sauce has a secret snap that makes the dish a Louisiana favorite.

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped green onions, in all
¼ cup minced red bell peppers
¼ cup minced green bell peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup fresh corn kernels
2 teaspoons Emeril’s Creole Seasoning (recipe follows)
½ pound ( 1 cup) lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
4 10-inch-square sheets frozen puff pastry (two 17-ounce packages), thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups Corn Crab Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add all of the onions and ¼ cup of the green onions, the red and green peppers, garlic, and corn and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in 2 teaspoons of Emeril’s Creole Seasoning and cook for 1 minute. Gently stir in the crabmeat and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Makes 2 cups.

Cut each puff pastry sheet in half, then in half again, making 4 squares each. Brush each square with the beaten egg. Place ¼ cup of the filling in the center of 1 square and top with another square, egg-washed side down. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat with remaining squares.

Place the pies on the baking sheet, brush the tops with more of the beaten egg, and bake the pies until puffy and brown, for about 18 minutes.

While the pies are baking, prepare the Corn Crab Sauce. See below.

To serve, pour ¼ cup of the Corn Crab Sauce onto each of 8 plates and top each with a pie. Sprinkle each serving with some of the remaining green onions.

Corn Crab Sauce
Makes 2 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped green bell peppers
¼ cup chopped red bell peppers
1 freshly scraped corncob, broken in half
½ cup freshly scraped corn kernels
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon liquid crab boil
2 cups heavy cream
4 ounces (1/2 cup) crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the green onions, green and
red bell peppers, the broken corncob, corn kernels, garlic, salt, pepper, and crab boil.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce
is thick enough to coat a spoon, for about 9 to 10 minutes.

Discard the corncobs, fold in the crabmeat, and remove from the heat. Serve
immediately or store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Reheat
in a saucepan over low heat.

Emeril’s Creole Seasoning

2 ½ tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 table spoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried leaf thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar.

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