Food Network’s Cajun Aces make flavorful Cajun recipes approachable for food fans


Cajun Aces, Sam and Cody Carroll, share their love of Cajun food and culture with Food Network viewers. In this interview, the couple shares a few secrets to their cooking.

Are you intrigued with Cajun food? The Food Network show Cajun Aces showcases the nuanced dishes that compromise Cajun cuisine and culture. Hosted by Sam and Cody Carroll, the couple bring viewers into their home as they create classic Cajun dishes. While people might think about just of one or two popular Cajun dishes, this food series showcases that everyone can create these flavors in their own home kitchen.

Food fans watch the Food Network is to explore flavor, cuisines and recipes. While many people enjoy a delicious meal at a favorite restaurant, more and more foodies are looking to recreate those flavors and recipes in their home kitchen. Cajun cuisine has often stumped the home cook because the layered, depth of flavors seem intimidating.

In the Food Network series, Cajun Aces, Sam and Cody Carroll make these classic Cajun dishes more approachable. Whether it is a simple trick to perfect a roux to keen advice to develop flavor, the home cook can become more comfortable recreating these classic recipes in her own kitchen.

One of the reasons why food fans are drawn to this Food Network series is because the real life couple conveys their connection to the recipes that they create. From their bond with local farmers and purveyors to their love of the cuisine, each meal is an expression of their desire to give their family and friends a warm, welcoming and delicious meal.

Each Cajun Aces episode focuses on a theme. From tailgating to cooking an entire meal using cast iron pots, these episodes showcase the variety and versatility of Cajun cuisine. While flavor is always apparent, there are many layers to Cajun food.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Sam and Cody Carroll of Cajun Aces. During our conversation, we chatted about classic Cajun foods, cooking with cast-iron and the importance of supporting local fisherman and farmers.

Cristine Struble (CS): If someone was unfamiliar with Cajun food, what is the first dish that they should try?

Cajun Aces (CA): Gumbo, but you have to make sure it’s a good one. So many people have ruled it out because they have had a bad one.

CS: Is there one spice that is essential for cooking Cajun food?

CA: Not necessarily. Cajuns are known for combining many spices to make a unique flavor profile.

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  • CS: there a secret to making a good roux? How can the home cook learn the difference between flavor in the brown and burnt?

    CA: Be attentive and you can NEVER over-stir. When cooking your roux, never stop stirring and look/smell for a nutty almost roasted pecan scent. Control your flame, have a beer within reach (so you don’t have to walk away) and stir, stir, stir. Once your roux reaches the desired color, add your trinity (so it’s best to have everything chopped and ready to free up your stirring time!).

    CS: Some of your dishes use a cast iron pot, is it your kitchen essential? Should every home cook have a cast iron pot or pan? What’s the one secret to keeping that cast iron cookware in great shape?

    CA: It is definitely a kitchen essential. Every home cook should have a cast iron vessel of some kind, whether it’s a frying pan or an enameled Dutch oven.
    Secrets to cooking with cast-iron:
    • Never cook anything with too much acid (tomato sauce). It pulls the oils from the cast iron. Cook high acidic dishes in the enameled cast iron.
    • Deep fry/pan fry as much as you can in it. This will keep it seasoned.
    • Dishwasher is a big NO!
    • Normally just a rinse/scrub down with hot water (no soap!) and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for a couple hours and your pan is as good as new. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    CS: One of your restaurants started as a place to sell crawfish from your farm, how important is it to support local farmers, fisherman, butchers, etc.?

    CA: Cody was raised a farmer and still is. With our TV show, we hope to show and encourage people to buy from their local farmer or fisherman. There is something so beautiful about putting a face and meaning behind your produce and meat. So many people think their food comes from the grocery store. If everyone could work on a farm for just one day, they would see how much work goes into harvesting the corn that makes your Corn Flakes. I think everyone would appreciate every bit of food in front of them a little more.

    CS: At your New Orleans restaurant, you use native Louisiana ingredients presented with classical cooking techniques, can traditionalist (more rustic) Cajun cooks learn to appreciate the blending of styles?

    CA: Yes, absolutely. The culinary style of our New Orleans restaurant Sac-a-Lait is refreshing. It’s a constant reminder that dishes put Cajun food “on the map” and just how much further we need to go to preserve this culinary history and cooking practices.

    CS: As parents, how to you encourage your daughter to try new foods? Has there been any food that you were surprised that your daughter likes (for example, my son fell in love with raw oysters at the age of 5, everyone thought it was crazy).

    CA: Honestly, we take the old fashioned approach. She eats what we cook and if we dine out we order for her. If it were up to her it would be quesadillas, cheeseburgers and Cheetos every single meal. This way she gets to try new dishes and learn what she likes and dislikes about her food. We also like to cook with her. Keeping her involved in family dinners gives her a sense a pride and ownership of the meal. She always loves to eat what she helps us cook. She was actually eating sushi rolls right before she turned two and people thought it was crazy, but we knew we were lucky!

    CS: With football season starting, what’s your must have tailgating food?

    CA: If we are cooking we do a Jambalaya or Pastalaya. A one pot meal that feeds the masses! When we get to go our friends’ LSU tailgate, the first thing we want is Mexican 7-layer dip. Our friend Jen makes the best 7-layer dip – it’s not a successful tailgate without it. It’s just so dang good, especially after you’ve had a couple beers!

    CS:What future plans are on the horizon?

    A cookbook is what we are pushing for now. We have had so many requests for one since the show aired, so we have been working toward that. We just returned home from a 10 day Louisiana tourism mission in China, where we had the honor of cooking at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and a historic Jazz Club in Shanghai for top Chinese media. We are excited for what’s to come in the future!

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    Thank you Sam and Cody Carroll for taking time to chat with me. If you are looking to explore Cajun cuisine and to try some of these delicious dishes, watch Cajun Aces on Food Network. Cajun Aces airs on Saturdays at 12 p.m. ET/PT and is available on demand.