electronic Gourmet Guide

Graham Kerr's "Low-Fat Tuesday" Recipes

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Graham Kerr's Jambalaya

Cajun—a term derived from Acadian—is a mixed style of cooking often confused with Creole and Soul. This is not too surprising when you note that the same geographical area of Louisiana was first peopled by Choctaw Indians, followed by the Spanish, Africans, Acadians from Nova Scotia and then the French. Jambalaya—so like paella—is almost certainly of Spanish origin.

Nutritional profile
Per ServingClassicMinimax
fat (gm)4116
calories from fat52%31%
cholesterol (mg)241178
sodium (mg)2312981
fiber (gm)23

(Classic compared: Austin's Jambalaya)

Serves 6



Cover the ham hocks with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Remove the hocks and discard the water.

Place the blanched ham hocks into 4 cups (944 ml) of fresh water, add the bay leaves and simmer 1 hour, or pressure cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the ham hocks, strain and reserve liquid. Cut lean meat in shreds and discard all fat and bone. Return the reserved liquid to the saucepan and reduce to 2 cups (472 ml) to make a ham hock stock. Skim off any surplus fat.

Cook the shrimp in 2 cups (472 ml) boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp and pour the liquid into the ham hock stock.

Put the cooked shrimp directly into ice water; peel, devein and slice in half lengthwise. Put the shells into the ham hock stock and continue cooking until reduced to 3 cups (708 ml)—about 25 percent reduction.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and celery. After 2 minutes, add the tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Heat caramelizes the tomato paste into a deep brown color. Called the "Maillard reaction," this adds both color and depth of taste, so essential when a lot of fat is removed from a recipe.

Cut the ham steak into bite sized cubes and add to vegetables with the shredded ham hock meat.

Place the thyme, cloves and cayenne pepper into a coffee bean grinder or a small food mill. Grind the spices to create a wonderfully fragrant powder. Put half the mixture in the ham hock stock and half in the vegetables.

Remove the shrimp shells from the stock.

Cook the rice in 3 cups (708 ml) of the ham hock stock for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Never stir the rice while cooking—it can break its texture into a mush.

Combine the cooked rice with the vegetables and ham. Add the tomatoes and the shrimp.

Stir in the parsley and a scattering of the chopped thyme. Now taste it...add more cayenne pepper if everyone likes it hot and spicy. Serve it hot!

Helpful Hints & Observations

Rice cooked separately -
I have separated the rice from the other ingredients in order to avoid the common problem of having the rice "catch" if you don't use a heavy enough pan. Removing so much of the fat makes the sticking problem even worse. However, please note that I have used a good stock to cook the rice...so nothing is lost...only fat and frustration. Shrimp  

Shrimp Gumbo

This Minimax version of a Creole classic is based upon the marvelous rendition served by Chef Leah Chase at her fabulous restaurant in New Orleans, "Dooky Chase." One food critic called Leah's gumbo, "the kind of dish that makes you want to throw down your spoon, rush into the kitchen and kiss the cook!" I hope this Minimax version inspires the same emotions—it could be the beginning of world peace!

Nutritional profile
Per ServingClassicMinimax
calories 415 510
fat (gm) 17 3
calories from fat 36% 5%
cholesterol (mg) 197 107
sodium (mg) 1974 204
fiber (gm) 14 11

(Classic compared: Gumbo)

Serves 4


First prepare:

Peel and devein the shrimp, saving the shells. Cut each shrimp into three pieces and set aside.

Put the shrimp shells into a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups (472 ml) water. Bring to a boil and simmer just a couple of minutes. Strain out the shells, reserving the liquid. This flavor infused water will be used for cooking your rice.

Now cook:

Cook the rice in the reserved shrimp shell water until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

Put the flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until it turns light brown. Remove from the heat and cool. This step is crucial in developing a nice, toasty flavor and brown color for your gumbo.

Put the drained okra in a large plastic bag. Pour in the cooled flour. Seal off the top and shake until the okra is completely coated with flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the oil in a large pot. Add the flour-coated okra and the flour, one half at a time. You want the okra to fry and become really brown. Push the okra to one side of the pot.

On the other side of the pot, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often. Continue cooking until the tomato paste turns a dark brown. This is a caramelizing called the Maillard reaction. Now stir the tomato paste into the okra pieces. Turn the cooked okra out onto a plate, scraping up all the tasty brown pan residue.

Add the remaining oil to the same pot. Add the onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. Let the vegetables swelter and fry over high heat. Stir in the cooked okra and continue frying over high heat.

Pour in 4 cups (944 ml) water, thyme, bay leaves and the "Creole torpedo"—the cayenne pepper. Simmer 30 minutes.

Just before you're ready to serve, stir in the shrimp. Cook only about 4 minutes. The shrimp should not be overdone.

To Serve: Spoon the rice, fragrant from the shrimp shells, into a bowl. Sprinkle the chopped green onions over the rice. Top with the shrimp gumbo. Sprinkle with emerald flecks of fresh, chopped parsley.

Helpful Hints & Observations

What to do with the roux?
Another really tough issue: can it be Creole without the roux, the incredible invention that provides both depth of taste and silky thickening to so may wonderful dishes? Roux is almost equal amounts of flour and butter, stirred together over mild heat to cook. This combination can actually thicken up to six times its own weight in liquid! It is also rich in saturated fat and calories. I think this recipe's method is a great alternative.

Fresh okra wasn't available when we made this dish on the television program, so we tried the canned variety, which turned out to be just fine and much less complicated (or slippery). The fresh okra doesn't have a good, high nutrient value, so the normal canning loss wasn't too much of a threat.


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About Graham Kerr

Graham Kerr For nearly four decades, Graham Kerr has galloped into kitchens and homes worldwide, pursuing the pleasures of the palate. Once famous for his luxurious, fat-laden recipes on his "Galloping Gourmet" TV series, Graham and his producer wife, Treena, made a complete dietary and lifestyle reversal after her heart attack in 1986. Since then, he has been at the creative forefront of healthy, but tasty, cooking. He developed his own cooking style, which he calls "Minimax"—recipes that minimize the health risks while maximizing aroma, color, texture and taste. with four cookbooks and nearly 250 television programs devoted to the Minimax concept, Graham Kerr has proven that you can eat well to be well. In the following recipes from his book "Smart Cooking," Graham shares with the electronic Gourmet Guide audience his heart healthy versions of two Mardi Gras classics.

Recipes Copyright © 1991, by the Graham and Treena Corporation. From the Graham Kerr book "Smart Cooking" published by Doubleday. Reprinted with permisssion.


Guide to Louisiana and Creole Cuisine


Index of January 1997 electronic Gourmet Guide

This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.

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This page modified February 2007