Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cajun Sugar Mignons

Lisa, the marvelous writer who created Champaign Taste is hosting a blogging event titled "Novel Cuisine". It requires writing a blog post about a piece of literature and some culinary fantasy inspired by said piece of literature. I'm usually too busy to participate in these events, but this one just seemed to write itself.

I came upon this steak idea one day while surfing the net and rereading "Evangeline, a Tale of Acadie" by Henry Wadsworth. I think I first read the poem in high school and it created a curiosity about the Acadians that remains fascinating to me to this day. This epic poem tells the tale of Evangeline Bellefontaine and her betrothed Gabriel Le Jeunesse set against the backdrop of the British expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia.

I think the poem remains relevant today with its themes of religious and ethnic intolerance (The British against the French Catholic) and the fact that religious cults have been around for along time-the Acadians were an isolated and unpopular sect of the Catholice church.

The poem is a bit melodramatic for current tastes in literature, but the prose is so compelling, the language so gorgeous, and the topic so current (thinking of the State of Texas raiding the LDS enclave in Texas) that it really does make it relevant.

"All was ended now, the hope, and the fear, and the sorrow,
All the aching of heart,the restless, unsatisfied longing,

All the dull, deep pain, and the constant anguish of patience!

And, as she pressed once more the lifeless head to her bosom,

Meekly she bowed her own and murmured, Father, I thank Thee!"

Wadsworth kept Evangeline in the Northeast, but the largest group of Acadians migrated to Lousiana, where they became the Cajuns. The Lousiana Cajuns claim the Evangeline tale as part of their own culture and struggle for freedom.

All this is a rather long introduction to Cajun Sugar Mignons, a recipe I came upon while visiting A Cajun Homepage which is written by Andrew Guidroz II in Opelouses, Lousiana. Everyone knows the Cajuns are famous for their cooking, but you'll have to visit Andrew's site to get his whole story. I basically used Andrew's recipe combined with my own steak seasoning.

Cajun Sugar Mignons

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons of steak seasonings (I make my own)

4 eight ounce fillet mignon steaks

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Brush the tops and bottoms of the steaks with the olive oil and sprinkle with the steak seasoning and sugar.

Heat a black iron skillet with the vegetable oil until it almost smokes, place the steaks in the hot skillet and turn the heat down slightly.

After 4 minutes flip the steaks and continue to cook another 4 minutes for a beautiful rare steak.

It makes a beautiful, black crunchy crust with a juicy interior. I served it with another cajun favorite "Maque Chou", which is an early example of fusion cooking with Native American and Cajun combinations.

So I recommend you pick up a couple of steaks, grab a copy of Evangeline, open a bottle of wine and contemplate the tragedies of yesteryear, the tragedies of today as articulated through the art of Henry Wadsworth.


Lisa said...

Mickey, what an interesting post, and of course you're right—the themes are (unfortunately) as fresh today as when the poem was written. I'd heard of "Evangeline" but hadn't read any parts of it before seeing your excerpt here. Now I want to read the whole thing.

The steaks sound divine, and the maque choux as well. More new things for me to try...

Thanks so much for joining us in this event!

Simona said...

How interesting! I am actually not familiar with the poem, but I can see how it resonates today. I am also intrigued by the Maque Choux. Thanks for your contribution to the event.

wheresmymind said...

MMMMM...that looks SO good right now :)

adele said...

Steak with blackened crust? Sounds delicious. Steak au poivre is my usual go-to when I fancy a hunk of red meat, but I'll have to keep this in mind.

librariane said...

Fantastic! I'm glad you were able to share, and I'll have to look that poem up and ask my book group if they want to do a month of poetry so I can whip out this one (with the steak, too, perhaps?).