pork butt, shank, pork fat, and spicy seasonings, then smoked slowly over pecan wood and sugar cane. It is the preferred sausage for jambalaya, red beans, and gumbo.File PowderMade from sassafras leaves that have been dried, ground, and passed through a sieve, it is a thickening agent discovered and shared by the Choctaw tribe of Native Americans. It is most commonly added just before serving to thicken gumbo.RouxA classic French thickening agent made by combining equal parts of flour and butter and cooking prior to use. The cooking process gradually colors the roux. There are four names that are generally associated with the varying shades of roux. It begins as a white roux, changes to a blond roux, then darkens to brown
or dark roux depending on the temperature and time it takes to cook the flour. Any type of fat may be used, depending on the taste and purpose of the roux. In Creole cuisine, roux is typically cooked to the brown to dark states and used to thicken dishes like gumbos and stews. Animal fats, such as bacon or duck, are substituted for the butter for a lighter flavor. In Cajun cuisine, roux is usually made with vegetable oil or animal fat instead of butter and cooked to a dark caramel color. The dark roux used in Cajun and Creole cuisines helps provide richness and depth of flavor to the dishes.Creole JambalayaOne of the secrets of great jambalaya is the way fat rendered from the chicken or sausage coats and seals the rice, helping it keep its texture during the long cooking process while absorbing the flavors that surround it. This cooking process is similar to the technique for making rice pilaf. Some jambalaya recipes call for the rice to be browned before adding the liquid. By using both dried and fresh herbs, intense and diverse flavors are imparted to the jambalaya. When preparing jambalaya, cook the meats over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they are thoroughly browned. This process takes about 15 minutes. When the meats are browned, remove them from the pan and brown the vegetables in the same manner. Add the seasonings after the vegetables are browned and cook for 5 minute more to build the flavors on top on one another.LettuceThis is a type of butterhead lettuce, with soft, tender leaves. It's terrific in salads and sandwiches, or the leaves can be used as a bed for other dishes. Substitutes: Bibb lettuce (smaller, more flavorful, and more expensive)Marinated SaladsAny salad allowed to marinate in a vinaigrette for a period of time to impart additional flavor to the ingredients. Remember that acids destroy chlorophyll and will also cook or pickle the ingredients, so keep this in mind when preparing these dishes, it may be wise to do them in small batches or for larger services do them shortly before service, allow approximately 15 to 30 minutes imparting flavor. An alternative is to use a portion of your oil and herbs to coat the vegetables to impart more flavors and then add the rest of the vinaigrette shortly before service.