Ragin’ Cajun in… Waco?

It’s finally here! The newest volume of Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table cookbook dropped this week and I was thrilled to receive my pre-ordered copy! I’m not deep into the whole “farmhouse design aesthetic,” but I was so excited to sit down to plan some meals right away! I found her newest volume was definitely elevated from her first work. Many of the recipes were honest and recognizable, but still lent the element of surprise and an air of simple sophistication. (Now if only she would give us the recipe for Cup o’ Jo cupcakes…)

Every month, I sit down and make a rough plan on an Excel calendar (using Wincalendar templates) of what I’m cooking/baking for the coming month. This plan is not only flexible, but tends to be quite fluid. I make the plan, but it regularly changes on the weekly. I also grocery shop weekly, so this makes it easy and leaves plenty of room for spontaneity and great sales! This month, I wanted to incorporate more seafood into our diets so I’ve dubbed every Friday of the month of April as “Fish Friday.”

This past Friday, I chose Joanna’s Gaines Cajun Shrimp Sheet Pan Dinner. I chose something so simple to start to make things easier on myself after a long and arduous week. It’s the epitome of Springtime on a sheet pan owing to the fresh shrimp and crisp beginning-of-the-season milky, sweet corn (which is crazy difficult to cut in 1in portions btw, Jojo!) alongside creamy, earthen potatoes. Mellowed pops of roasted garlic with the salty all-purposeness of Old Bay seasoning rounded out this dish well.

When I first glanced at the title of this recipe, I initially expected Joanna to incorporate Louisiana Cajun Seasoning into the dish since it was titled “Cajun.” This is definitely not shade thrown to Gaines, but growing up in a house with strong Louisianan ties definitely lent a heritage of Tony Chachere’s, Zatarain’s, and Louisiana brand seasonings. Upon repeating this recipe, I likely would swap Old Bay out for one of these seasonings for nostalgic reasons. However, Old Bay is not an incorrect seasoning for this dish at all.

Despite its northern roots, Old Bay has readily become accepted as one of the go-to seasoning for many a crawfish boil of the South. If you don’t have a container of Old Bay in your kitchen cabinet, add it to your grocery list… like yesterday. It’s the Jack-of-all-trades of the spice cabinet. The rich history of Old Bay and its “American Dream” origins can be found here. It’s like having Lawry’s Seasoned Salt in your kitchen arsenal. It’s just a given, right?

They say you eat with your eyes first… Well, the diversity of color and movement in this dish offered plenty for the eyes to feast on first for sure. This recipe (my spin based on serving 2 below) may have been simple, but was incredibly satisfying in terms of flavor and variety. It felt whole, healthy, and satisfying just as it was. The only thing that would make this dish more complete would have been some steamed white rice as a bed for the combination (even if it is yet another starch) or a bright, fresh arugula side salad (even if it’s not exactly traditional) dressed in a light French dressing.

1lb baby red potatoes, halved
2tbsp grapeseed oil
fresh ground mineral-rich Himalayan salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 ears of corn, husked and cut into 1-2in sections
2 garlic heads, tops sliced off to expose cloves
2 lg cloves garlic, minced
4-6tbsp butter, melted
1tbsp Louisiana Cajun (or Old Bay) seasoning
1lb lg wild-caught shrimp, peeled & deveined
2tbsp rough chopped fresh parsley for finishing
1lg lemon cut into wedges for finishing

1) Preheat oven to 450° and line a large sheet pan with foil (we like Reynold’s Grilling Foil).
2) In a lg bowl, toss potatoes with 1tbsp oil and fresh ground S&P.
3) Spread the potaoes evenly on the prepared baking sheet and roast 30min.
4) While the potatoes are roasting, using the same bowl, toss the corn and garlic heads with the remaining 1tbsp oil and additional ground S&P.
5) When the 30min have elapsed, add the corn and garlic heads to the pan with the potatoes and roast for 15min.
6) In the same bowl, whisk together the melted butter with the minced garlic and Cajun/Old Bay seasoning.
7) Once the 15min has elapsed, dot the shrimp all over the pan amongst the vegetables and drizzle the seasoned butter over all.
8) Pop the pan back into the oven and roast an additional 5min until the shrimp is just pink and tender.
9) Sprinkle the pan with the chopped parsley and drizzle with fresh lemon and serve heaping helpings alone or with the steamed white rice or the arugula salad.

What has been your go-to cookbook lately?

Currently Reading: Magnolia Table, Volume 2


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Marsha Greer says:

    In the book photo, there’s clearly smoked sausage pieces, yet it’s not in the recipe. Is this a publishing error?

    1. You are correct I believe on both accounts! Upon second look, I do see sausage pieces… Although, in her defense it’s not the first time I’ve seen a cookbook illustration not exactly match the recipe. I didn’t use them personally this time, but I have before on similar dishes. There’s nothing like smoked andouille, right?

      1. Marsha Greer says:

        Thank you! I didn’t think i was crazy LOL. I made this yesterday and I did use smoked sausage. I added it with the garlic heads and corn. It was delicious! One recipe criticism: the corn rounds, even when only in 2” chunks like mine were, need to be at least blanched or steamed first. Following the recipe exactly, the corn was waaaaay underdone. It’s a recipe worth making again, just with that one correction and the addition of smoked sausage!

      2. The garlic heads sound amazing! I love roasted garlic!

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