I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Make friends with a butcher. There’s no clearer path to culinary enlightenment than through a butcher who can help you discover flavor-filled cuts of meat you never knew existed. And this dish is one of them.
So, what’s for dinner? Two words: pork neck. Or more specifically, pork neck bone fricassée with dark gravy and chunks of andouille and smoked sausage infusing their spicy flavors. I love how the meat stays on the bone yet renders down to porky tenderness. This is rustic farmhouse Cajun food that is a mystery to most folks who have never been down the bayou.
Pork neck bone is an inexpensive (no, downright cheap) cut that is full of close-to-the-bone flavor, and when simmered in a thick Cajun roux-based gravy it picks up even more dark deliciousness. And we’re talking dark Cajun roux–that mysterious transformation of oil and flour that produces a seductive substance with hypnotic, trance-inducing aromas and tastes. It is the key to understanding Cajun cuisine and at the heart of this recipe.
I buy my neck bone at Billeaud’s in Broussard, Louisiana. This little convenience store first caught the attention of Acadiana cooks when my friend and boudin expert Bob Carriker (aka Dr. Boudin) downed his first of thousands of links in this store. He still proclaims it A+ rated with the comment, “A classic link of boudin bordering on the exquisite.” But as many have found out, there’s even more in Billy Billeaud’s shrine to Cajun meats: garlic-stuffed turkey wings, seasoned rabbit, calf brisket, and hog’s head cheese to name a few delicacies.
Neck bones are readily available in South Louisiana and throughout the South for that matter. Elsewhere, and especially in more cosmopolitan surroundings, you will have to seek out a butcher (he will become your best friend) that can deliver this cut to you. And any time spent finding it is well rewarded by not only the culinary experience that awaits you but the cost-savings you won’t believe. It’s the most explosively flavored cut of meat for the price. Guaranteed!
And I guarantee that if you follow this recipe, your friends and family will want the name of that butcher, too.
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups diced yellow onion
- 2 cups diced green bell pepper
- 2 cups diced celery
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 pounds pork neck bone, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 pound chopped andouille sausage
- 1 pound smoked pork sausage
- 12 cups chicken stock, plus water if needed
- ½ tablespoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 cup dark roux, plus more if needed, see the recipe here
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Dash of hot sauce
- 8 cups cooked long-grain white rice, such as Supreme, for serving
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- In a large cast-iron pot with a lid over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once sizzling hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley, and stir until combined. Add the pork neck meat and sauté just until the pork and the vegetables begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the sausages. Add enough chicken stock to the pot to cover all the meat and vegetables, and scrape the bottom to loosen the brown bits of flavor.
- Season with cayenne and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine. Add the roux and stir. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for 2 hours.
- Uncover and skim the surface of any excess oil. Taste the gumbo and if you prefer it thinner, add more stock or water. If you prefer it thicker, add more roux. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes longer.
- Sample the finished dish and add a dash of hot sauce if you like it spicier. Ladle the stew into large bowls over a mound of rice and garnish with diced green onion tops.
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