Cajun spice blends - favorites?
I did a search for a couple of years back and didn't find much. It's time to restock on a basic Cajun spice blend. I make special blends with some recipes but like to have a general purpose blend on hand. Anyone have any favorites, especially little known, not widely distributed? Or is it best to stick with the biggies?
I've used Chachere's (Original and Spicy, I think), but can't remember if I've ever used Zatarain's. Also Rex, which I liked better than Chachere's, and Alex Patout's, which I still have some of but it's a little too hot for some dishes. I have some Veron's now but I'm less pleased with it than any of the others.
I was looking at the Bourque's Super Foods site and they have a blend of their own. Anybody used it? I probably won't order anything else from there but I will be over that way some day and plan to stop in.
How about the Penzey's cajun blend? Poche's?
Brucesw, to tell you the truth, after a long time messing around with those things, I've stopped using them. I keep Tony's on hand for lazy-ass cooking when I'm in a hurry to season some fish or pork chops for a quick supper but that's about it. It's got the flavor I grew up with in New Orleans and it's close to the good country flavors of my father's Cajun family too. It has more salt than I'm happy about but I like it better than the others.
The biggest reasons I quit using them is that they were all basically alike and they all used ingredients I didn't want in my good from-scratch cooking. Even when I made my own versions, why would I want to use garlic or onion powders when I could use fresh garlic or onion like my Creole and Cajun grandmothers did? If I have fresh thyme or oregano, why would I use dried? I buy and grow really good quality herbs and spices and see no reason to use whatever bulk varieties the companies included. Lemon pepper? No way. Freshly ground pepper is always better.
Am I a control freak? Maybe. But it doesn't take long for me to assemble those few ingredients fresh each time I cook an etouffée, jambalaya or gumbo. I can control the quality of what goes into my food, the finished dishes are better for the effort, and I'm keeping my family traditions alive.
Prudhomme includes a lot of different recipes in his book Louisiana Tastes, the only one I have. That's where I got the basic recipes for some of the blends I mix up from time to time. Maybe I should look back through the book and see if there's a general purpose blend. I like mixing them up like that - helps to use up individual spices before they go stale. I always use clone recipes for Old Bay and Chicago/Montreal steak blends - don't use them often enough to justify buying the ready made mixes and keeping on hand.
scuzzo - never heard of Sexton -- I'll have to look for it.
I've come across others locally but one problem is the size of the container. I don't mind blowing a couple of bucks on a small shaker to try but sometimes the smallest size is like 10 or 11 ozs, a lot to try to get rid of if you don't like it.
I adore Chachere's but I've also made Emeril's spice blend in larger batches and saved it in an extra spice jar. That has a somewhat "smoother" flavor but still gives a requisite kick for a good cajun spice. I've never tried Penzey's but the smell seemed off to me -- too much of something that wasn't cayenne.