Most southern food is bone sticking and hearty. A style that can be contributed to the economics of survival.
This recipe is not different. A full loaf of bread is stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables before being baked off. The result is a spicy gooey filled bread that acts as the perfect appetizer for any party.
This is a dish that I have eaten since I was a little girl, even considering it is difficult to find many versions of it in cookbooks or online.
Everyone in my family loves it. It originates from my Aunt’s mother, Mary Joyce, who is Cajun through and through. It is one of those items that is always present at family gatherings – especially large ones. A fact that is evident by the size of the portions used in the original recipe that was given to me:
Personally, I do not cook for 80-100 people. I have a small family. So, the challenge with recreating this recipe was doing so in a way that would feed a smaller group. Lets say 10-12 people.
During my first test run of the condensed version of this recipe, I realized that the original recipe was missing some important instructions. A lack of instruction can easily be attributed to the fact that May Joyce has made this time and time again, so writing down all of the finite details was not something she needed to do. She has them all memorized.
To fill in the gaps, I did a little digging. I found a recipe for creole meat bread by Emeril Lagasse, click here.
There is a large difference in creole and cajun food. Creole food is the result of many nationalities who settled in New Orleans. In many creole recipes you will find inspiration from West African, Spanish, Haitian, French, and many other cultures.
Cajun food comes from the Acadian people and has a French influence. You will find Cajun food primarily outside of the city…where my family lives.
Comparing the two, although one cajun and one creole, helped fill in some of the gaps.
I present my version of meat bread. Of course it will never be good as the original I ate growing up. It is not easy to include the love that is thrown into every family recipe that is made for you, instead of by you.
For another Louisiana inspired recipe, click here.
Cajun Meat Bread
1 Pound of Ground Beef
1 Pound of Andouille Sausage, cut into small squares
1 Large Onion, peeled and diced
1 Large Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon of Hot Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Cajun Seasoning
2 Small Cans of Mushrooms
1 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup of Shredded Swiss Cheese
1 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
4 Balls or Loaves of Frozen French Bread Dough
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Start by removing the dough from the freezer to allow it to defrost.
In a medium skillet, over medium heat, brown your ground beef. Breaking it up as it cooks.
Once browned, remove the beef from the skillet and leave the grease in.
In the leftover grease, sauté your onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, and sausage. Cook until everything is nicely browned. In the last two minutes of cooking, add in the garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant.
Remove pan from the heat and set it aside to allow the mixture to cool.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the ground beef, hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, drained mushrooms, and all of the cheese. Mix until well combined.
Taste the mixture, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Assemble the bread by placing one of the dough balls on a well floured surface. Roll out the dough until approximately 24"x12". The measurements are not exact, and have some wiggle room.
Place 1/4 of your mixture into the center of the rolled out dough, and spread evenly. Leave a 1/2 inch border at the edges of the dough.
Fold the corners over, then gently roll up the filling and dough. You will roll from one long edge to the other.
Pinch the end of the roll into the dough to create a seal. If the dough does not seal, an egg wash will do it.
Place the rolled loaf on a sheet pan, seam side down.
Continue preparing the loafs until all of the loafs are filled and rolled.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until nicely golden brown on the outside.
Some of the filling may ooze out, and that is okay.
Travel is the best way to draw inspiration in life. For me traveling means exploring the food of the city I am visiting. I spend hours of research mapping out my food journey to ensure I eat only the best the city has to offer. Oftentimes the result is overindulgence over a short period of hours.
Two weekends ago I found myself in New Orleans. One of my favorite southern cities of all time. I am lucky to have family in Louisiana which gives me more than enough legitimate reasons to explore the land of endless sugar cane fields. If you have never visited, I strongly urge you to add NOLA to your short list of destinations. Wrought with history and culture, the French influenced city has no shortage of things to see and do. Live music in every bar, towering historical buildings, and more voodoo shops that you can stand. I have been many times yet I have never seen the same thing twice.
Louisiana a state that is know for the origin of Cajun cuisine which is heavily influenced by Creole cooking with French technique. Technically, Cajun food did not start in Louisiana, but through immigrants who eventually settled in the state. And yes, there is a large difference in the Cajun and Creole, which I plan on breaching in a later post.
For now I would like to spend a little bit of time focusing on the Creole and French side of the state. The city folk, those in New Orleans, cook Creole food, unlike the country folk who cook Cajun. Since I spent time in the city, everything I ate could be considered Cajun—even the non-Cajun food—and here is why:
If you have ever visited New Orleans it is easy to see that the town is a culmination cultures created through the settlement of immigrants, which is still occurring today. There are more restaurants that a visitor could reasonably conquer, all of which are a different—even if only slightly. Restauranteurs present patrons with their interpretation of local food, adding in their own influences and ideas. This is a practice that has been occurring in NOLA since before my time. The food of our ancestors is not the food of our towns as we now know them.
A world-wide known dessert is the perfect example of the evolution of the food in NOLA. Bananas foster was created in New Orleans at famous New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s by Chef Paul Blange. Today you can still visit Brennan’s and try the food that has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards. The recipe was created in 1951 and even published by the New York Times in 1957. The concept is simple: smother ripe bananas in butter, sugar, and liquor then set it aflame.
Although widely considered a traditional southern dish, by no means it is so in the literal sense of the word. The recipe was not contemplated until the mid 20th century. When comparing so many dishes that are said to be traditionally southern, bananas fosters is much younger than say hoppin’ john, which can be dated back to the 19th century.
This dish epitomizes both Southern and Louisiana cuisine, ever progressing into new fare that features a nod to the past. So why not draw inspiration from a City and State that has drawn culinary inspiration from it’s inhabitants, landscape, and visitors, and create something totally new from already known and loved recipe (also my husband begged me to make monkey bread, so the idea was streamline).
Many recipes call for canned biscuit dough. I believe that fresh is best, so my recipe makes the dough from scratch.
If you draw any inspiration from this post or recipe, I hope you take the idea of bananas foster and add it into a something to create a brand new dessert…or savory dish. I would love to hear about what you come up with!
Bananas Foster Monkey Bread
For the Dough:
⅔ Cup of Warm Whole Milk, no higher than 110°F
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1 0.25 Ounce Package Dry Yeast
3¼ Cups of Flour, divided
¼ Cup of Butter, melted
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon of Salt
For the coating:
1 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
For the Bananas Foster:
4 Very Ripe Bananas, peeled and sliced
4 Tablespoons of Butter
1 Cup of Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
½ Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream, room temperature
3 Tablespoons of Bourbon
Pinch of Salt
4 ripe bananas, sliced
Start by making the dough.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the milk then sprinkle over the yeast and sugar. Let sit for at least 10 minutes until the yeast is bubbly.
With the dough hook attached, turn the speed to low. Pour in 1 cup of flour, mixing until combine. Next the melted butter, and finish 1 cup of flour.
Mix in the eggs, then finish with the remaining flour and salt.
Once dough is fully combined turn the speed to medium and kneed for 3-5 minutes. A soft dough should form and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, coat with spray, and allow to rise, covered, in a draft free place for one hour or until double in size.
In a small bowl, combine the topping sugar and cinnamon. Mix until combined then set aside for later.
Prepare your bananas fosters. In a medium sauce pan, over medium-high heat, add brown sugar and butter. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes until mixture is an amber color.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, salt, and bananas. Stir to fully coat bananas. Set aside and allow to cool.
Prepare a bundt pan by coating it in cooking spray.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently shape dough into a ball.
Pinch off one inch pieces, roll them into a ball, then dunk them into the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Start assembling by placing a small amount of bananas fosters mix into the bottom of the pan.
Create a layer of dough balls in the bottom of the pan, then coat in your bananas fosters. Continuing layering dough and sauce until the pan is full.
Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning it out.