#37 Coush Coush

‘Hot Boudin, cold coush coush Come on, Tigers, Push, push, push!’

-Faithful Tiger Fans

Every culture has its favorite comfort foods, and while we’ve covered most of the Cajun staples here, we haven’t talked about the most important meal of the day – breakfast. When it comes to breakfast, move aside Wheaties, because coush coush is the Cajun breakfast of champions.

Nothing hits the spot better on a cold winter morning than a warm bowl of coush-coush. A simple dish made with inexpensive ingredients, coush coush was a breakfast staple back before the days of the cereal aisle. It is prepared by pouring a mixture of cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and milk into a hot skillet greased with vegetable oil, lard, or bacon drippings. A dark crust is allowed to form before the mixture is stirred, giving coush coush its signature crunchiness. The final mixture is served like cereal with milk and sugar, or as a stand alone dish with cane sugar drizzled (or poured in my case) over it. The result is a warm satisfying meal that’s sweet and chocked full of nice crispy bites.

Unlike other Cajun staples like gumbo, jambalaya, and etoufĂ©e, coush coush is a dying tradition. The last time I recall eating it was as a young boy sleeping over at my grandmother’s house. Loaded with fat, coush coush isn’t exactly a healthy breakfast option, but that’s never hurt the popularity of boudin and cracklins. I attribute the decline of coush coush’s popularity to competition. Cajuns have the same breakfast choices that the rest of this country has, whether it’s choosing one of the many fast and convenient options from the breakfast aisle, or hitting the McDonalds drive through for coffee and an egg McMuffin. In today’s fast paced world, people just don’t have the time to spend 30 minutes cooking breakfast. That’s a shame, because coush coush is a dish that deserves its place in Cajun culture, and shouldn’t be allowed to die out.

Next time you’re about to cook a big Sunday morning breakfast, consider giving coush coush a try instead of pancakes, for old times sake.


Coush Coush (From www.wafb.com)

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Yields:
6 Servings

Ingredients:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/2 cups milk

Method:

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, baking powder and milk. Using a wire whisk, blend ingredients until well incorporated. When oil is hot, pour in cornmeal mixture. Do not stir. Allow a crust to form. Once formed, stir well and lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook approximately 15 minutes, stirring often. Serve with milk and sugar or with hot coffee milk as cereal.

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36 thoughts on “#37 Coush Coush

  1. I never had it with sugar. I didn’t even know people did that until I read “Cajun Foodways”. My grandmaw would just fry it up and put it in milk, nothing added.

  2. I need the sugar in it. I actually made the coush coush shown in the photo this weekend, since I couldn’t find a single decent photo online. It was good, but I think I’ll try bacon grease instead of vegetable oil next time. I think the mixture of sweet and salty will be good.

  3. Man, when we had cornbread for lunch at school, every kid opened their milk cartons and threw the cornbread right in there.

    That is good stuff.

  4. I think the key is the black iron pot. Nobody has these anymore. Every Cajun seems to have his own system for seasoning his black iron pot so tht nothing sticks to it. And to clean it, they wipe it out with a paper towel. Never use soap and water on it. A Cajun will take hours to season his black iron pot. Without the black iron, coush coush is not the same.

  5. I went out and bought a black iron pot this weekend. The only one I could find was from the Emeril line of cookware. It came preseasoned, so I didn’t have to do much to get it ready for cooking, other than giving it a good scrubbing to get the wax coating off, and wipe it down with some oil. I love my Calphalon pots, but when I have to brown or grill something, it’s hard to beat black iron.

  6. Made me hungry! Haven’t had it in a while,but we use to eat this at least once a week while I was growing up…..looked just like the picture,didn’t put anything on it though…only milk….my parents liked to put cracklins in it….
    Thanks for the good memory!!!!!(might have to make some now)

  7. I haven’t been up there in awhile, but I’m pretty sure that Sandoz Hardware store in Opelousas sells the iron pots of which you speak. It’s better to inherit your cast iron (pre-seasoned with years of family lovin’) because it takes at least a few months of frequent use to get them TRULY well-seasoned.

  8. Aww you linked me! I had no clue I was worthy of being a link; I’m so honored :)

    And for the record, my dad was a chef, I was raised in Louisiana, and I’ve NEVER heard of coush coush. Don’t hold it against me!

  9. I’ve never had it cooked like that but we always had cornbread or cornbread muffins around for just that. Not much better than a bowl of hot, crunchy cornbread with cold milk and sugar on top.

  10. My great grandmother and my grandmother used to make this. We would eat It for breakfast with coffee milk. I need a coffee pot now that I think about this. Although grandma told me to make It where you continue to stir until It becomes as It Is known to me where It Is good but hard to swallow. Haha. I do like this Idea as well. As any Cajun dish everyone has their way of doing things..Certainly Is true In these so called or possibly because It’s usually New Orleans style Cajun places In Milwaukee…Since I never lived In New Orleans and was from around Ville Platte Eunice area I know our Cajun was a bit different not creole. It’s rather Interesting though.

  11. I remember as a child my mother would pull out the black pot and add hog lord,cormeal,and water and we thought we had died and gone to heaven eating coush coush. What a pleasant suprise reading we weren’t the only ones.My mother was from Kaplan and my father was from New Iberia.

  12. Wow…I just took a walk down memory lane! My momma made this all the time and yes, in a large black pot. Nothing like it served hot, covered in cold milk and Steen’s sugar cane syrup. But be carefully, it always made me choked if I ate it too fast. lol
    I too am from New Iberia.

  13. I checked with parents, aunts, and uncles, water was used not milk and no baking powder or any other levening. Eaten like cereal and milk, sometimes sweetened with Steens, usually sugar and sometimes a shot of coffee in milk for flavor. This was tradition in Vermilion Parish.

  14. Never had this. Dunno why. Maybe my mom didn’t like it. Tho my grandma and her sisters didn’t make it either (at least not when I was there). They were from Iota … moved to Beaumont.

    What we did have — and still one of my favorite comfort foods — was eggs scrambled in bacon grease with green onions and leftover rice. With hot biscuits slathered in butter and my grandma’s fresh fig preserves. Yum!

    But I can see where coush coush smothered in Steen’s would hit the spot too.

    • As a kid, my mama cooked rice with scrambled eggs and a little onion in butter or bacon grease for breakfast many times. A favorite dish and I cook it occasionally with leftover rice from the night before. Grew up in the little pocket of Cajuns/French speakers in Ascension Parish. Mama also loved leftover cornbread and milk but didn’t make coush-coush.

  15. Being from the Washington / Lebeau, we ate coush coush each night with milk and homemade fig preserves. Grandmother never stirred the pot though, from what I remember, she heated the grease and baked it in the oven in a black pot, sliced it like a pie as soon as she took it out. I also remember always having some in the icebox for a snack.

  16. Just found this site. It’s great. My mother never made coush-coush but she was mostly German from Iberville Parish. My fathers mother made it but I was young when she died. However, my MIL used to make it for me during the time she lived with us. Never had to ask me twice if I wanted her to. Her recipe was pretty much yours but with a lot less oil. I ate it w/o sugar but then I don’t put sugar on any cereal, hot or cold. Mais dat’s eatin, I wanna tell you!!!
    Pre-seasoned cast iron pots are still available from a company call Lodge. I have several. To re-season I just coat with crisco lightly and place in an oven preheated to 350, set the timer for an hour and remove the pot when the oven is cool. Make sure you put baking sheet under the pan so if there is a drip it doesn’t get on your oven.
    I could write about things like this forever. Better stop now.

  17. My mom used to make it in a cast iron dutch oven. I don’t know what she used besides a little oil and corn meal, but she stirred it just about the entire time it was cooking. It was different from cornbread that we crumbled up in a bowl with milk and Steens.

    She was from Estherwood and dad is from Morse.

  18. Coush Coush with fig preserves and milk fo sho. Dad told me about them having coush coush and caille`(sp) when he was growing up.

  19. I had cush cush as a child and today I tried the receipe. It brought back memories of my moms. A warm feeling of childhood and boy did it feel good and taste good. I agree the old receipes shouldn’t die off so I will make some for my husband and children, hopefully they will feel the same way I do. Thanks for the receipe.

  20. Oh, Big Beaux, I’m so glad to read your remark about caille! My dad, who grew up on a farm outside New Iberia and later Cow Island, never just said “coush coush,” it was always “coush coush and caille.” I don’t know what caille IS, though. I think maybe a curdled milk of some kind? Anyone out there have any information about this? Thanks!

    • Layne, You are very close. We called it “clabber”. It’s actually yogurt with the whey (the watery part) still in it. We had our own milk cows and made it often when the temp. was right. If you skim off the cream, put it in a cheese cloth and hang it up so the whey drains out, what you have left is cottage cheese. Somehow we never ate coush-coush with it. But as a child I loved it with a little sugar on it for breakfast. Had a tang to it. I still love yogurt and cottage cheese.

      • Oh yea – “clabber” is what we called it too. Mom would take cows milk and cover the bowl with cheese cloth, set it aside on the cabinet and the fermentation would create sour milk clabber. John Folse (the chef) has a dairy line out that is sold as Creole Cream Cheese which is not cottage cheese but the old fashion clabber as we used to know it. We used to sprinkle sugar over it and eat this as a treat when we got home from school.
        Of course if no clabber was made we ate mayo on bread (yep mayonase sandwiches) or mixed cocoa power with a little sugar and milk to make our own choclate syrup to put on bread as an after school snack.

      • One of my brothers and I had a favorite frozen treat that our mother made. She would make the cottage cheese as above then add the cream back to it along with sugar blend well and freeze. Made a tangy/sweet/creamy treat that was wonderful. Kind of defeated the purpose of fat free cottage cheese but as growing boys, who cared. :)

    • Layne, If you use pasturized milk you’re gonna have to get a starter for your clabber. We used milk from our cows but pasturization has killed all the bacteria necessary to create the clabber.

  21. In the cold months, you wanted something baked in the oven like maybe cornbread, because the oven would take the morning chill out of the kitchen, and everybody went in there where it was warmer. In hot weather, you didn’t want to heat up the kitchen, so the cornbread was cooked up quick on the stove.

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