Chef Austin Leslie gets Jazz Funeral

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**Update** See our Great Chefs of New Orleans Austin Leslie Tribute.

Chef Austin Leslie who passed away in Atlanta on September 29, was honored in New Orleans with a traditional Jazz Funeral through the Seventh Ward on Sunday, October 9. Marchers carried black and white photos of a smiling Austin Leslie wearing his trademark yachting cap.

For more photos click here. Here is an article from the Washington Post.

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R.I.P. Chef Austin Leslie

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**Update 11/07/2005** For more on Austin Leslie see our Great Chefs of New Orleans Tribute to Austin Leslie.

Bad news for fans of New Orleans Food, Soul Food, and Food in general, Chef Austin Leslie has passed away in Atlanta, Georgia, while on refuge from Hurricane Katrina. This sad loss is made worse knowing that Chef Leslie died when his home town of New Orleans was in such peril, and unable to do what he loved most, and did best; cook.
Chef Austin Leslie’s career was at its pinnacle when he was at Chez H&#233l&#232ne in the 1980’s, in fact, he and Chez H&#233l&#232ne were the inspiration for the sitcom Frank’s Place during the same era.
After reading the sad news I opened my copy of Creole Feast to the chapter on Chef Leslie, pictured confident, and smiling brightly in his younger years, in the midst of deboning a chicken, no doubt readying it for the fryer which he knew so well.
Sorry to share more bad New Orleans news, lord knows there has been enough lately. Fried Chicken for me tomorrow. Here are some notes from the late, great Chef Austin Leslie on Frying Chicken from the book Creole Feast:

The first time I cut up a chicken I was working at Portia’s. The chef there , Bill Turner, asked me where I learned how to do it. I said I learned from my mother at home. He taught me how to get twelve pieces from a whole chicken; my mother was able to get thirteen pieces from the same chicken because she broke the back into two parts. I learned all about fried chicken from Bill Turner, too. It’s the easiest job in the kitchen. You can tell by the sound when fried chicken is done. If you listen to it, you can hear how the sound of the grease crackling in the fryer changes. Then you know it’s time to bring it up. I never cook it well done; I never cook any meat well done. What I do is take the blood out of it first-while the chicken is frying, take a pair of tongs and squeeze each piece. Squeeze it till it bursts to let the blood out. You can look right down there by the bone and see if there is any blood there. When it’s ready the chicken will float to the top, a part of it will stick up. Then you take it and check it over. If you cook it properly you can keep your guests or customers from ever seeing any blood. That’s what they object to, when they prefer well-done meat-not the taste, but the blood.

Rest in Peace Chef Leslie, you’ll always be in our hearts.

My good friend, Texas Chef Bill Moran and I have been planning to colaborate on a Great Chefs of New Orleans piece once a month or more, Chef Leslie was definately on the list and still is. We want to concentrate on some of the Chefs from the past, that were busting out phenomenal food before Chefs were famous like rock stars. Great Chefs like Austin Leslie, Louis Evans, Warren Leruth, and Leah Chase, as well as many, many others. We will do a bio and a recipe that each Chef is most famous for, for instance, Chef Leruth’s Oyster Artichoke Soup, and Chef Leslie’s Fried Chicken. We’re really looking forward to it.

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Cafe Degas Survived

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News on the damage of Cafe Degas in New Orleans, with photos at my friend M.A. Sample’s Wreckroom! It seems the lovely little Bistro survived with no flooding but acquired a tree in the dining room, the damage is largely repairable! Check out the Cafe Degas website! They are located at:

Cafe Degas
3127 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 945-5635

It’s great to hear some good news from New Orleans!

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Shrimp & Chicken Jambalaya Recipe

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I make my Jambalaya partly on the stove, then finish it in the oven, although it takes a bit longer to cook, I find the even heat turns out a better product. For this recipe I used Chicken and Shrimp so I wanted my stock to have both of those flavors, real simple. I heated up the right amount of Chicken Stock and added some raw Shrimp shells to it and simmered for about 20-30 minutes, then strained. It gives it a quick little infusion. I do the same thing when making a Cassoulet, except with Lamb bones, if I’m using Lamb. I will feature Cassoulet in the coming winter months. The Jambalaya Recipe:

Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya Recipe

Seasoning Mix (1/4 tsp Cayenne, 3/4 tsp White Pepper, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, 1/4 tsp Thyme, 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage, 1/4 tsp Dried Basil, 1/2 tsp Black Pepper)

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/4 Cup Diced Andouille Sausage
1/4 Cup Diced Tasso
1/2 Cup Diced Onion
1/2 Cup Diced Bell Pepper
1/2 Cup Diced Celery
1/2 Cup Diced Fresh Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
3/4 Cup Enriched Long Grain Rice
1 3/4 Cup Chicken Stock with a Shrimp shell infusion (see above)
1 Tbsp Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Minced Fresh Garlic
1/2 Cup Diced Chicken (Cooked or raw)
1 1/2 Cup Raw Medium Shrimp
1 Tbsp Finely Chopped Italian Parsley
3 Tbsp Finely Sliced Green Onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the Holy Trinity (Onion, Celery, Bell Pepper).
In a Cast Iron Dutch Oven, melt the butter over medium heat, add the Andouille and Tasso, and cook until it just starts to brown. Add 1/2 of the Holy Trinity, cook until the vegetables are tender (nothing smells better than rendering Andouille and Tasso with the Holy Trinity). Add the diced Tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the Tomato Sauce and cook for another minute. Add the Rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the Stock, the remaining Holy Trinity, Seasoning Mix, Worcestershire, and the Garlic. Taste the broth for seasoning, particularly salt. Add the Chicken, stir well and put the pot in the preheated oven. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. After the twenty-five minutes stir in the raw Shrimp, Parsley, 2 Tbsp of the Green Onions, place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until the Shrimp are cooked through. Serve with French Bread and your favorite Beer. Garnish with Green Onions.

Serves 2-3

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Creole Chicken Bonne Femme Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)

The French term Bonne Femme translates to Good Woman or Good Wife, but in French culinary terms it generally means with mushrooms, which is not always the case in Creole cooking. Antoine’s does (or did, until they reopen) an Oyster Bonne Femme which is wonderful, but quite a bit different from most Creole, Bonne Femme dishes, they also make a version of Chicken Bonne Femme. Here is my version of the Creole classic:

Creole Chicken Bonne Femme Recipe

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded lightly for even cooking
2 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8″ rounds
3/4 Cup Spanish Onion, diced
1/8 Cup Green Onions, Sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Cup Ham, diced
Kosher Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
1/4 Cup White Wine
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Sliced Green Onions for Garnish

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.

Season the chicken breast liberally with salt and pepper. Add the Olive Oil and 1 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter to a medium high saute pan. When hot add the chicken breasts and saute until golden brown on both sides, set aside.
Add the potatoes to the hot saute pan and saute until tender. Add the onions, ham, and garlic, saute until the onions are translucent, fold or stir gently as to not break up the potatoes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cook for 2 minutes. Season the “sauce” with salt & black pepper to taste. Gently nestle the chicken breasts in the sauce and place in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through.
Remove from the oven, place the chicken on 2 heated serving plates. Add the parsley, and the remaining 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter to the sauce, shake the pan until it is incorporated. Divide the sauce over each chicken breast, garnish with the green onions and serve.

Serves 2.

More Creole Chicken dishes at Nola Cuisine:

Chicken Clemenceau
Chicken Pontalba
Chicken Rochambeau

Also check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes!

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Marchand de Vin Sauce Recipe

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After making that beautiful Beef Stock recently, I decided to post on one of my favorite NOLA Cuisine, classic sauces: Marchand de Vin. You will find this sauce in all of the old line restaurants: Anotoine’s, Galatoire’s, Brennan’s, Arnaud’s. This sauce is perfect for a steak, or Grilled Pork (photo) and even better on the decadent Breakfast dish, Eggs Hussarde. Eggs Hussarde is, bottom to top: Holland rusk, Canadian Bacon or Ham, Marchand de Vin Sauce, Poached Egg, Hollandaise. Served with baked Tomato halves. The sauce recipe:

Marchand de Vin Sauce Recipe

3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Finely Minced Ham
1/2 Cup Finely chopped Green Onions
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Mushrooms
2 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
2 Tbsp Flour
1 1/2 Cups Beef Stock
3/4 Cup Red Wine
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste.
Dash of Cayenne

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and saute the Ham, Onions, Mushrooms, and Garlic over medium heat until the whites of the onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes. Add the Beef Stock and Red Wine, Bring to a boil. Add seasonings. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. The sauce should coast the back of a spoon.

*Note* You may or may not need salt in this recipe due to the ham.
**Variation** The flour can be omitted if desired, just reduce the sauce to the correct consistency.

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Chaurice Sausage Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

Chaurice (pronounced shore-EESE) is a fresh Creole Sausage, similar and probably derived from the Spanish Chorizo, without the curing process. Chaurice is often served, pan fried as a side to Red Beans & Rice, as well as used as a seasoning meat in many one pot meals, such as Gumbo. The legendary Leah Chase of Dookie Chase swears by a good quality Chaurice in her Creole Gumbo. Here is what the Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901 had to say about Chaurice and Creole Sausages:

It has been said by visitors to New Orleans that the Creoles excel all other cooks in preparing appetizing Sausages. From the old Creole women who go about the streets crying out Belle Saucisses! Belle Chaurice! to the Boudins and Saucissons so temptingly prepared by the Creole butchers in the French Market, the Creole Sausage enters largely into domestic cookery and forms a delightful flavoring of many dainty dishes, especially of the vegetable order, while in the preparation of the famous ‘Jambalaya,’ the Chaurice, is one of the most necessary and indispensable ingredients. Though Sausages of any of these varieties may be bought in the French Market and other stalls daily, many of the ancient housewives and cooks prefer to prepare their Sausages…

Here is my version of the Creole classic Chaurice. I like to make a decent sized batch which I portion into vacuum sealed packages and freeze.

Chaurice Sausage Recipe

3 lbs Pork with plenty of fat (I use Boston Butt) Cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Medium Spanish Onion, Chopped
3 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, Chopped
4 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
4 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
1 pinch Meat Curing Salt (Optional) (Here is what I use: http://www.butcher-packer.com/pg_curing_dq.htm)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss thoroughly.
Cover and let stand in the refrigerator overnight (this step is optional).
Place all of your grinding equipment in the refrigerator 1 hour before grinding. Using the 1/2″ die for your meat grinder, grind all of the ingredients. Alternatively you could finely mince the ingredients in a food processor or by hand. Cook a small patty to taste for seasonings, reseason if necessary. Follow my instructions for Linking Homemade Sausage. I make my Chaurice into about 10 inch lengths. When finished, I vacuum seal the links into individual portions and freeze. They will keep indefinately in the freezer.

Other Sausage and Seasoning Meat Recipes on Nola Cuisine:

Andouille Sausage
Tasso Recipe
Pickled Pork

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How to Link Homemade Sausage

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While linking up my Chaurice sausage (pictured) recently, I realized that there are some little tips that I could share, most of which I learned by screwing up. I’m not claiming to be any kind of expert on the subject of sausage making, far from it, but I have learned a few things. These tips apply to just about any sausage, not just the ones associated with NOLA Cuisine. Any sausage: Andouille, Italian, Kielbasa, Chaurice, Boudin, Chorizo, you get the idea.
I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, with a grinding attachment and sausage tubes. The kitchen aid works great, the only downside is that the sausage feeds about 10 inches off of the counter, instead of at counter level. No big deal. It’s just something I’ve gotten used to. I use hog casings, packed in salt, from the Italian market down the street from my house. I don’t like synthetic casings because they look and taste, well..synthetic. I use natural casings. When you’re ready to use them, turn your kitchen sink on cold, very low, then hook the casing over the faucet, it will slowly fill up like a hose. Let it run for a few minutes, then squeeze all of the water out. You do this for two reasons: To clean off all of that nasty salt, and to check for holes in the casing; holes are bad. Anyway, here are some tips:

* Keep all of your grinding equipment and meat very cold. I throw everything in the fridge a few hours before I start, the grinder, the plunger, the bowl that I’m grinding into, everything. Two reasons for this: Food safety, and to keep the fat from starting to render out of your sausage. The motor heats up quite a bit. If your making a large batch, keep half of the meat in the fridge until you need it.
* Put a little oil on your sausage tube to make the casing slide on and off easier. If your sausage casing is filling up and your casing is clinging to the tube, you may have a blow out.
* Once your casing is on the tube, pull out about 2-3 inches, make a fist around the tube and casing to keep air out, then start feeding some ground sausage into the chamber. Once some starts coming out, turn the motor off and tie the casing.
* When linking sausage on a kitchen aid, I find it more aggravating than helpful with 2 people. The one feeding is either going too fast or too slow for the one shaping the links. After a little practice you can do it faster alone.
* Now that your casing is tied, turn your motor on low and start plunging some ground meat through. I’m right handed so I feed with my left and form the link with my right. As the meat feeds in, gently squeeze it to the tied end with the back of your hand while holding the tube to prevent air pockets. Not too much or the casing will break, and not too little. I fill the casings pretty tight, although it takes some practice to know when to say when. Keep doing this until you have the correct length of sausage for the recipe you’re using, turn off the motor, pull out the casing about 2-3 inches and cut it. Now form the end of the sausage and tie it. You can adjust your motor speed to your pace.
* If you want a rope of smaller links, you can make one long casing, then pinch & twist between each link, then tie each division with butcher’s twine. Just make sure you don’t pack as much into the casings or they will burst. When first starting out it’s easier to make individual links.
* Don’t sweat air pockets while you’re linking, finish your link, then worry about it. Simply take a toothpick or skewer and poke the air pocket, just a tiny hole, then gently rub it until the air is gone.
* You now have fresh sausage.
* If I am are planning on smoking sausage, I tie butcher’s twine around one end each of two links, then hang them from hooks in the basement to cure. It is important to let the casings dry out before smoking. More on the smoking process in the future.

Later today I will post my recipe for homemade Chaurice (pictured) which is a Creole fresh sausage. Coming soon homemade Andouille Sausage.

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Red Beans & Rice Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)

Where do I start on this topic? How about Louis Armstrong! This was his comfort food, his “birthright” as he once said, as I’m sure it is for many New Orleanians. He actually used to sign his name Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong. I’ve been a huge Louis Armstrong fan since I discovered him when I was a kid, so it’s hard not to think of him when eating a big plate of Red Beans. I’ve tracked down two different red beans recipes from Louis Armstrong which I will share in the future.
Everyone has their own recipe for Red Beans & Rice, just like most great New Orleans classics, most of which probably change a little with each cooking, usually depending on either:
what’s in the refrigerator, or what looked good at the store.
This one is made with my homemade Tasso, and homemade Andouille Sausage, so it has a rich, down home smoky flavor.
This traditional Monday lunch in New Orleans, stems from lean times, and a good cook’s sense of how to make something, out of nothing! It’s my absolute favorite thing to cook, I make it once a week, usually on Monday, staying with tradition. I never follow a recipe, but you can always find nine, or so, cookbooks open on my table when I’m cooking it. I always search for a new technique, they almost always turn out good, but once in awhile, there is magic in the pot.
So here is some traditional Monday comfort food, and anyone who loves New Orleans, can certainly use any comfort they can get these days.

Red Beans & Ricely Yours – Danno

Red Beans & Rice Recipe

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
1 Cup Onion, chopped
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, Chopped
1 Cup Andouille Sausage, Cubed
1 Cup Tasso, Cubed
1/2 lb. Small Red Beans (soaked overnight or for at least a few hours)
1 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, Minced
3 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock (You could certainly use water)
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar (When I don’t use Pickle Meat, I add a little vinegar because I like the flavor it lends. Pickle Meat makes wonderful Red Beans by the way; recipe forthcoming.)
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce (I learned this from Louis Armstrong’s Recipe)
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1/2 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice

Mix together the Holy Trinity (Onions, Celery, Bell Pepper). Drain the beans.
Melt the butter over medium heat.
Add 1/2 of the Holy Trinity, 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning, Tasso, and the Andouille, turn the heat to medium high. Cook this for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to get some color.
Add the beans and cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.
Add the Chicken Stock or Water, Garlic, Bay Leaves, the remaining Trinity and Creole Seasoning. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let this simmer for 2- 2 1/2 Hours. The first hour is low maintenance; an occasional stir and making sure the beans are covered with liquid. The second hour, you want to check back a little more often, the beans will really start to absorb some liquid and you don’t want them to stick.
After the beans have cooked for two hours, add the Tomato Sauce, the Parsley and 1/2 of the Green Onions. Make your Rice. Cook the beans for another half hour.
To Serve:
Remove the Bay Leaves. Mound a half cup of Rice each, onto two serving plates, Cover with a generous helping of the Red Beans, Garnish with the remaining Green Onions. Make sure there is a bottle of hot sauce on the table. Perfect compliments to this meal are a simple vinaigrette salad, Good Crusty French Bread, and your favorite Ice Cold Beer.

Serves 2-3

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Grillades & Grits Recipe

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Here is one of the uses for Beef Stock within Creole Cuisine that I mentioned; although most cooks probably use water in their recipe, I use Beef Stock in mine. Grillades (pronounced GREE-ahds) & Grits is a dish widely served for breakfast or brunch in South Louisiana. I enjoy this dish for a comfy Sunday evening meal. Here is some of what the Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901 had to say about Grillades:

…The round of the meat is always selected for Grillades, and one steak will serve six persons. The steak is cut into pieces of about six or eight squares and each piece is called a Grillade.
Grillades are a favorite dish among the poorer classes of Creoles, especially being served not only for breakfast, but also at dinner, in the latter instance with gravy and a dish of Red Beans and Boiled Rice.

A note about Grits. Up here in Yankee-land, Grits get no respect, my theory is that it has largely to do with the name. Polenta is similar and widely popular up here in Italian restaurants; but it also has a nice, soft name that rolls off of the tongue. People like to say Polenta. Grits sounds like a shotgun blast, and few up here will touch them. Oh well, their loss. I like the Old Fashioned Grits, which are the slower cooking variety, as opposed to the Quick or Instant Grits. They only take a short while longer to cook, and they finish with a better texture.

Grillades & Grits Recipe

2 lbs Round Steak
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Cup A.P. Flour
2 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Medium Onions, Chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
2 Ribs Celery, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Beef Stock
3 Tbsp Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
2 Cups Tomatoes, Chopped
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Crystal Hot Sauce to taste
2 Tbsp Dark Roux
1/8 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Green Onions, thinly sliced on the bias
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Recipe of Grits made according to the Package Instructions

Pound the Round Steak on both sides to about ½ inch thickness, then cut into 4 inch squares. Season the Grillades with the salt & cayenne pepper. Combine the flour and Creole Seasoning, dip the Grillades one at a time into the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. In a cast iron dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until very hot, but not smoking. Brown the Grillades well on both sides without burning. Transfer the Grillades to a plate. Drain off the vegetable oil and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the Onions, Bell Pepper, Celery, and Garlic and, stirring frequently, cook until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Stir in the Beef Stock, Worcestershire, Tomatoes, and Bay Leaves; bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Return the Grillades and the accumulated juice from the plate back to the pot. Submerge the Grillades in the sauce and simmer for about 1 ½ hours or until they are very tender. When the Grillades are tender remove them to a plate and bring the sauce to a boil. Add the Roux and stir until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the parsley, 1/4 cup of the green onions, red wine vinegar, hot sauce, and salt & pepper. Mound the Grits on 4 heated plates and divide the steaks on top of the Grits. Pour the sauce over the Grillades & Grits, top with the remaining Green Onions and serve immediately.

Serves 4

**Update – 3/26/2005** For another great recipe using Grits, check out my friend Caryn’s Gorgonzola Grit Cakes at Delicious! Delicious!. Her photos are so gorgeous I chipped a tooth on my monitor trying to take a bite out of one of these babies.

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