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Spice, Spice, Baby! Shake this Gradoux on everything!

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Let's play a game. Head to your grocery store, no matter where in the country you live, and peek down the spice aisle. How many Louisiana seasoning blends can you count? Now try to pronounce them! You'll likely find Tony Chachere's (pronounced sAsh-ary, by the way!), probably see some Slap Ya' Mama!, or (if you're lucky) some Magic Swamp Dust luring you to take them home. The closer you get to Louisiana, the more grocery store shelf space these spice blends seem to occupy. So what's the voodoo between all these containers? The most common difference is how much salt the blend contains. Here's a tip- the lighter the container, the more salt it probably contains. If you're checking nutritional labels, under 15% sodium is ideal. Another difference is how crazy they go with the cayenne. Tip #2- the more violent the brand name, the more punch that blend packs!

So why do I bother to make my own blend? Salt and cayenne are the exact things I like to control in my own cooking. This blend, full of smokey paprika, warmed by black and white pepper, and rounded out by herbs and a touch of brown sugar, is my Cajun childhood in a mason jar. Borrowing meat smoking and curing techniques from German cattle farmers migrating through the bayous, Cajuns have long relied on wood smoke, black pepper, and garlic to preserve the andouille (ahn-doo-ie) sausage or tasso ham that spikes our gumbos and jambalayas. Cayenne is used as an accent, and mild pepper sauces like Crystal sauce are liberally used to cook with, while the Tabascos of the world are on the dinner table. I call this blend Gradoux, a Cajun-French term for all the crusty good bits that form on the bottom of the pot as you cook. Because a homemade blend won't have preservatives, don't be concerned if this mix gets clumpy. As long as your spices still have a strong smell, they'll still have a lot of flavor. You'll just have to use a fork to break up your Gradoux :)

Happy eating, y'all.

Gradoux Spice Blend

1/4 cup salt

2T fine ground black pepper

2 T onion powder

1 T garlic powder

1 T white pepper

1 T thyme

1 T oregano

1 T brown sugar

2 t smoked paprika

1 t sweet paprika

1/4 t cayenne (or more)

Combine in a small glass jar. Shake before using.

#NewOrleans #louisiana #gradoux #seasoning #spice #paprika #cajun #smokey

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