A couple of years ago my friends with Camellia Brand beans asked me to develop a recipe for a Creole-style chili with pork instead of the traditional beef that is familiar in Texas-style chilis or the more newfangled “white” or chicken-based chilis that have come to be associated with California cuisines. If you are interested in the history and evolution of all this you can read all about it here.
I knew my friends at Camellia and I would catch some dissension for messing with something as sacred as chili, but we were ready for it. My first impulse was to reach for solidly, indisputably Creole ingredients: the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper), the Pope (garlic), thyme, red beans, green scallions, and – most Creole of all – Vaucresson’s Chaurice (aka “hot”) sausage. There is not a smidge of chili powder nor cumin to be found in the recipe, which relies on Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Veal and Pork Magic Seasoning Blend for its spice profile (here is a recipe for the spice blend if you want to make your own). I tied it all together with canned fire-roasted tomatoes, which lend a complexity and sweetness that only a char can bring out.
The recipe has been a hit and currently sports five-star reviews on the Camellia website!
This weekend would be an appropriate time to cook a pot of this contemporary merging of Creole flavors: A “cold” front is on the way and Vance Vaucresson, a third-generation meat processor and president of Vaucresson Sausage Company, was recently recognized as a Louisiana Tradition Bearer by the Lt. Governor’s office in concert with the Louisiana Folklife Commission, an advisory body to the state’s Folklife Program, which is a division of the LA Division of the Arts (try saying that fast). Now in its sixth year, this initiative brings attention to the individuals who perpetuate Louisiana’s distinctive culture.
News of the honor broke in the October issue of 64 Parishes, a publication of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. A Creole culture preservationist with an encyclopedic knowledge of his family’s fascinating history, Vance runs the family business with his wife Julie Vaucresson, herself becoming an increasingly familiar face on Fox 8 Morning Edition for her cooking segments featuring dishes made with different varieties from the rapidly expanding line of Vaucresson sausages, which include crawfish sausage, andouille, jerk chicken, and more.
The cornerstone of the 120-year-old family business is its peerless Chaurice (hot sausage), a mainstay at festivals, such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – where Vance runs the 50-year-old festival’s only original food booth, In the tradition of his father “Sonny” Vaucresson, whose eponymous Bourbon Street Café operated for nearly a decade, in December the Vaucresson family will open Vaucresson’s Creole Café, a deli and restaurant at the corner of St. Bernard Avenue and North Roman Street, steps from where Vance’s grandfather, Robert Levinsky Vaucresson, ran his butcher shop in the city’s historic Seventh Ward neighborhood. Vance and Julie plan to operate the new venture as a market, a café, and a community center of sorts where locals and visitors can learn about Creole culture and history.
It has been a long time coming.
Prior to the start of the renovation, which is being done through a partnership with Crescent City Community Land Trust (CCLT), the building sat vacant since it was flooded after Hurricane Katrina. The café/deli will merge two of the Vaucressons’ family businesses — Vaucresson’s Café Creole, which Sonny Vaucresson operated 624 Bourbon St., and the family meat markets, which were in the Seventh Ward— under one roof. Through the partnership with CCLT, there will be two permanently affordable apartments above the café/deli.
Until the new market opens, Vaucresson sausages are available for order through the company website. Shipping is available to areas outside of New Orleans but if ordering locally you can expect to find a smiling member of the Vaucresson family at your door with your order within a couple of hours. They are a great bunch and it is a really nice touch.
Creole-Style Pork & Red Bean Chili
- teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 pounds Vaucresson’s Chaurice sausage, casing removed (or for a milder flavor, use 1-pound Chaurice and 1-pound diced pork tenderloin)
- 2 cups finely diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 3 cups cooked Camellia Brand red kidney beans
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Pork & Veal Magic
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups thinly sliced scallions, green parts only
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven set at medium high. Add the Chaurice sausage, and, using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage into bite-sized chunks. Stir and cook until the sausage is fully opaque, about 8 minutes. (If also using pork tenderloin, do not add yet.)
- Add onion and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes.
- Add celery and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the red beans, dried thyme, tomatoes, garlic, and Pork & Veal Magic®. (If using diced pork tenderloin, add it now) Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomato paste and stir until thoroughly combined, taking care not to break up the beans
- Bring chili to a boil, stir in the green onions, and add Kosher salt to taste. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.
- Garnish individual bowls of chili with fresh thyme leaves.
Note: On a spiciness scale of 1 (mild) to 5 (hot), this chili is a 3 with Chaurice only or a 2 with pork tenderloin and Chaurice combined.
Have a great weekend, Everyone.