Congratulations Timmy on a well deserved mention of an excellent and authentic Creole & Cajun Food Blog! It’s not often we bloggers get mentioned in publication! Keep up the good work buddy! I hope one of these days our paths will cross and we will get to do some cooking together or maybe just sit down to a good meal!
Well I’m back. I know, I know…it’s been a long stretch between posts, but a recent visit to New Orleans and some out lying areas of Louisiana, has me re-inspired, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the daunting task of posting all of the terrific content I have compiled on that four day journey, I also have some new recipes to share as well. So here we go…it sincerely feels great to be back at this! I hope you enjoy!
Long on my Louisiana bucket list of places to dine has been Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant, about 45 miles away from New Orleans, Akers, Louisiana to be exact, on Highway 51, between Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain, and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s a scenic drive from the airport, I-10 provides great views of Bayou Piquant and Lake Pontchartrain, and elevated Highway 51 snakes through the Maurepas Swamp, providing visitors with excellent views of the Cypress swamps, complete with spanish moss. I’m a sap and I love Louisiana, so every time I see those picturesque views after I’ve been away for a spell, it gives me a nice warm glow.
Josie and Louis Middendorf opened Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant on July 4, 1934 during the great depression. The restaurant was passed down through two generations of the family. The Lamonte family who owned the restaurant for 40 years, sold it and passed the torch to Horst & Karen Pfeifer in 2006 after the couple lost their New Orleans restaurant Bella Luna during Hurricane Katrina.
The original Middendorf’s restaurant is still standing across the parking lot from the new restaurant and deck where I enjoyed my meal.
It was totally comfortable out there, perfect. In fact, I wish I was on that deck right now, ordering up some of the best fried seafood known to man and a cold beer. I would be on that deck all the time if I were a local. The deck is complete with boat parking:
Middendorf’s is the Mecca of fried Catfish, specifically, thin fried catfish. Understand, I’ve been reading about this place for years and years, well before the current owners took the reins, so there is cause for concern about building a pyramid up in one’s mind.
At the deck at Middendorf’s you order at the bar and pickup at the bar (although everything was delivered to me, along with smiles and nice conversation.) The beers available are generic, miller lite, bud, corona, etc.., no Abita, no fancyfied beers, which tells me this place is all local, love it!
I ordered the thin fried catfish, which is the legendary house specialty, and I also read great things about Middendorf’s Barbecued Oysters, so I ordered them as an appetizer with a cup of Turtle Soup.
I expected the Barbecue Oysters to be along the lines of Barbecue Shrimp, but they were totally different, in a good way, more along the lines of an Oysters Roffignac. Cleanly shucked with a wonderful red topping, a great first taste for my first meal in Louisiana! To be quite honest, I didn’t take notes, I don’t remember what flavors were going on there, just that they were wonderful and like no other Oyster dish I’ve had previous! Delicious!
After making my taste buds happy at Middendorf’s I was back on the road to my next destination, with a brief stop off in Ponchatoula, the berry capital. Did a little exploring then moved on to Abita Springs for my next stop (as well as my next post), the Abita Brewery Tour!
This recipe like many others on Nola Cuisine is written for folks like myself who love the food of New Orleans, but are too far away to walk out their door and have someone else do the cookin’. I’ve had a hunger for a Roast Beef from Parasol’s ever since my trip last March, but since I live in Michigan, this is a major problem, so I decided to put together a recipe to make my own, based on the video below of Parasol’s owner Jeff Carreras making the Po Boy at the restaurant.
I made a recipe based on what I saw, although pared down so that it will work for the home cook. This isn’t a fancy recipe, but I would say most authentic in it’s preparation to what you will find in a lot of neighborhood restaurants in New Orleans, the first bite took me right to Parasol’s in the Irish Channel.
I am totally aware that the host in this clip from the food network is a total Stooge, but this little video is a god send. The owner of Parasol’s graciously shows us how to make their Roast Beef Po Boy, granted we have to listen to that bleach blonde goon yammer through the whole video, but it is almost worth it. This is an unpretentious, neighborhood recipe. Some may lift their nose to the Kitchen Bouquet and some of the preparation, I swayed a little myself, but the end result is totally authentic. Try it for yourself, you’ll be moanin’ in your seat with a land fills worth of gravy stained napkins around you. I promise.
A note on New Orleans French Bread, or Po Boy Bread. I was fortunate enough recently to locate an acceptable substitute for New Orleans Po Boy or French Bread at a local market. Not exact mind you, but it has a lot of the same characteristics, Crisp, yet chewy Crust, soft center, cotton candy-like as it is often called, and just the right size. I’ve tried and tried over the years to create a recipe that is close, but I’m on hiatus from that mission for the time being. You wouldn’t believe the amount of emails I receive asking if I have the magic recipe. Not yet, sorry.
The object of the Po Boy Bread in this recipe is to make the eating experience as messy as possible. During your first bite the sandwich should flatten somewhat and your hands (as well as chin and possibly clothing) should be awash with gravy, beef debris, mayonnaise and possibly a few shreds of lettuce as the contents spray from the sides as if the sandwich was stepped on. Relax and enjoy, resist the urge to reach for that over sized stack of napkins until the last morsel is gone. In my humble opinion, the best Roast Beef Po Boys in New Orleans are judged by the amount of napkins used to clean up the aftermath.
This post is for my good friend Bill Moran, who unfortunately is laid up in the hospital in Corpus Christi. I wish I was close enough to bring you one of these my friend, I hope you get home soon.
Parasol’s Style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe
For the Beef:
2 lbs Beef Round, I used a bottom round Roast
Water, enough to cover by one inch in a dutch oven
For the Gravy:
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder (must be powder, not granulated)
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Oil
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
3 Cups Broth, reserved from the boiled beef (maybe more if your gravy gets too thick)
Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the beef roast, when the pot comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium to medium high, you should have a heavy simmer. Cook for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the liquid and refrigerate until cold. Reserve about five cups of the broth, you won’t need all of it, but keep some to thin the gravy out if necessary.
While the beef is cooling make the gravy.
Bring 3 cups of the reserved cooking liquid to a boil in a small saucepan.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, then the oil and kitchen bouquet, when thoroughly blended, whisk the mixture into the boiling broth, whisk together well, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. If necessary add a little of the reserved broth if the gravy is too thick. It should be. not too thick, not too thin. Let the gravy simmer for 20-30 minutes adjust for seasonings, it should have a good amount of salt as the beef has none.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
When the beef is cold, slice it as thin as possible and lay the slices in a 9X9 baking pan. The thicker your slices are, the longer it will take in the oven, so slice thin. or your hungry ass will be waiting. 🙂
Cover the beef with 2-3 cups of the gravy. Place into the oven 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beef is fall apart tender.
For the Po Boy:
2 ten inch French Loaves, see article above
2 Tomatoes, sliced
2 Cups shredded Iceburg Lettuce
1 Dill Pickle, sliced
The Roast Beef from the above recipe
Slice the bread in half lengthwise and lay both halves side by side. Slather a bunch of mayonnaise on both sides (I’ll be the cholesterol devil on your shoulder: Come on, your doctor’s not lookin’, don’t be stingy!).
On the top half, add pickle slices, tomato slices, and 1 Cup of the lettuce. On the bottom half, add 1/2 of the beef and gravy mixture (please note, I super-sized the amount of beef in this recipe). Fold the top over the side with the beef and put on a sheet pan. Repeat with the second sandwich. Place the sheet pan in the oven for 2-3 minutes to crisp and warm the bread.
Cut each sandwich in half and serve on paper plates for authenticity. Serve with your favorite cold beer, Barq’s in a bottle, Zapp’s chips, and a big ole’ pile of napkins. Enjoy!
Serves 2 hungry eating machines, or 4 light weights.
And let me say that this is one of the great drinking establishments in New Orleans, a wonderful hole in the wall bar, almost always packed with locals and whomever else happens to walk or stumble through the door.
The kind of Irish Pub with hand written signs that say things like “A 20% gratuity will be added to any credit cards left at the bar. You Drunks!!” This one made me laugh because in my past, I have to admit…guilty as charged. It’s always good to be in a town where you’re among friends.
Running parallel with the bar, on the other side of the wall is a somewhat dingy little dining room (I say that with the utmost respect and actually as a compliment), where in my humble opinion, the BEST Roast Beef Po Boy (my Parasol’s style Roast Beef Po Boy Recipe) is served. Detractors can go nuts in the comments section if you like, this is a hot debate, but Parasol’s serves the kind that I like, Roast Beef that is just obliterated from long slow cooking in a rich gravy, smothered with mayonaise, some tomatoes, pickles and lettuce; dressed that is. And that bread! Light as can be, yet chewy, with a crust that is beyond imagine!
Now the fun starts. This is also the messiest sandwich I have ever eaten, hats off. From my first bite I was awash in debris, mayo, gravy, up to my elbows. I actually ran out of napkins and had to clean myself by rolling around in a small patch of grass I found on Constance. I’m exaggerating of course, but you know what I mean, good sloppy eating in one of the most colorful little Irish bars I’ve ahd the pleasure of visiting.
Speaking of which, tomorrow being St Patrick’s Day, this is the place to be in the city, they annually host a block party that begins at 11:00 a.m. and runs all day long! Wish I was there! Here are some pics of the block party on their website.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!
Gaston from The New Orleans Creole and Cajun Cuisine Blog sent us this video which shows the owner of Parasol’s making their famous Roast Beef. They should have given the host a Po Boy to keep him from talking so much through the video, that clown annoys me. (**Update – Upon my second viewing of this video, I’ve concluded that this guy from the Food Network, is THE biggest stooge on TV! Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp, and even the elusive Curly Joe, have nothing on this guy.) Thanks for the link Gaston, and keep up the great blogging! Here is the video:
Upon entering Cochon Butcher, which is right around the corner from Cochon Restaurant and in the same building on Tchoupitoulis and Andrew Higgins, the first thing that I laid eyes on was their Andouille. Nicely laid out in the deli case, deep brown from hours of smoking, and as a true Andouille should be, huge as it’s stuffed into a beef middle casing.
The first thing that I thought of is that New Orleans locals, thanks to Chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski, and Warren Stephens, will no longer have to make the commute out to Laplace, Louisiana (read my Jacob’s Andouille post) to get Andouille if they don’t want to, the real article is right in the city now, along with scores of other wonderful products. All of the sausages, salamis, Mortadella, confits, terrines, rillettes, pickles, Creole Mustard, EVERYTHING is made in house! This place is a Mecca for all things swine, even more so than Cochon Restaurant. Feel like making a Cassoulet? Hell, stop into Cochon Butcher, get your Duck Confit, fresh sausages, cured sausages, whatever you want to include, they will probably have it.
I was greeted at the deli case by Chef partner Warren Stephens holding out a sample plate of the house made Bacon Praline, which, as my friend Tim at Roux-B-Doo’s says, is like sugary crack. Seriously, it is. This isn’t the Praline Bacon at Elizabeth’s, awesome in it’s own right, rather it’s an actual Praline with chunks of the house made Kurobuta Bacon inside of it in place of the traditional Pecans. Awesome flavors.
After coming off of the rush of the Bacon Praline, I asked Chef Warren if it would be alright to take some pics around the store/sWine bar. He said sure and asked if I would like to go upstairs to see the curing room. I said hell yes, of course. He led me upstairs through the upstairs kitchen to the temperature controlled curing room, one of them actually, there is another one at Herbsaint, as well as the ones in the downstairs display cases.
We headed back downstairs so that I could order something for lunch, looking at all of that great food was killing me. I decided to order the Muffuletta, with all house made meats no less. Any loyal reader of my site knows that I would HAVE to order the Muffuletta on my first visit knowing that I am a Muffuletta junkie, and let me tell you, this one did not disappoint.
Cochon Butcher’s Muffuletta has an olive salad that is very finally chopped which I didn’t know if I would care for, as I usually prefer the olives pretty much just crushed a la Central Grocery, but it actually was a perfect accent to the finely cured meats and the cheeses without being overpowering. The olive salad was on the top and bottom of the sandwich. The bread was also perfect, light and crumbly as it should be. The Muffuletta could easily feed 2, in some cases 4, and at $12, especially considering everything is made in house, it’s a steal.
While I was gorging myself on the above awesome Muffuletta, Chef Warren brought me over a Lagniappe to try out, his Tartiflette that he was featuring as a small plate item. It was a lovely pairing of fingerling Potatoes, housemade Kurobuta Bacon, sweet onions, and a touch of heat, baked in a Gratin with of course the wonderfully stinky Reblochon cheese. Phenomenal flavors; the smokiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the onion, tender gold and buttery fingerlings, woodsy Thyme, and the spice of the peppers all tied together with the Robust creamy flavor of the Reblochon. Awesome job.
Well, I finally made it to Casamento’s. After several attempts over the last few years, for one reason or another, every time I’ve showed up to their door on Magazine Street with an empty stomach just moaning and groaning for Oysters, I would inevitably be met with a sign to crush my hopes and dreams for that meal period. CLOSED. Granted, it would have helped if I had checked their website or bothered to call, but honestly, I’m not that bright.
On the other hand though, sometimes New Orleans takes you where she wants to take you, or just gives you a nudge in the direction that you want to go. In my experience, this is not a town for itineraries, not if you want to do it right. Go with the wind, come back often, and eventually you will see everything that you want to see. Yesterday the wind finally took me to Casamento’s, and I have to say that it was well worth the wait. I now rank Casamento’s among the best places that I have eaten Oysters in the city, raw or cooked.
Casamento’s was opened in 1919 by Joseph Casamento an immigrant of Ustica, Italy, who decided to tile the whole restaurant for easy cleaning, the restaurant is often likened to an empty swimming pool. Here is a pic of the front of the restaurant section of the restaurant and Oyster bar (sorry for the blurry pic):
The restaurant has long been loved by locals and when Joseph Sr. died the restaurant was passed on to his son Joseph Casamento Jr. Sadly after years in the restaurant (which he lived above) Joseph Jr. passed away the night Hurricane Katrina hit. Here is a pic from one of my favorite books, the long out of print Time-Life book American Cooking: Creole and Acadian which shows both Joeseph Casamento Jr. and Sr. shucking Oysters for their hungry customers back in the seventies. (I didn’t know who to contact for permission for this pic, as the book is so long out of print. If the owner has any problem with me posting this image, email me and I will take it down immediately!)
The restaurant is now owned and run by Joseph Sr’s grandson, and Joseph Jr’s nephew CJ and his wife Linda Gerdes, he runs the kitchen and she runs the front, carrying on the traditions of the restaurant and fine cooking that locals and travelers have come to rely on from Casamento’s.
I started my lunch, with a half dozen on the half shell, beautifully shucked, plump, and delicious Louisiana Oysters. Casamento’s has ketchup, horseradish, and Louisiana hot sauce on the tables for mixing your own sauce.
My favorite part of the meal, or my first favorite that is, is the Oyster Stew, simply done with the best Oysters, perfectly poached in the milky broth, succulent with onions, green onions, with a hint of celery and thyme, and glistening pearls of butter of floating on top of the stew as it arrives.
By the way, Cassamento’s Oyster Stew Recipe is contained in Kit Wohl’s book New Orleans Classic Seafood, page 42. I ate a similar Oyster Stew at Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar in New York when I was a younger lad and didn’t really appreciate it’s simplicity, although Casamento’s version immediately reminded me of that day. I actually ate that Oyster Stew while sitting next to the now late Al Lewis a.k.a Grandpa Munster who was celebrating his birthday at his favorite restaurant. I remember quietly whispering to my friend in between slurps of soup, ‘is that Grandpa Munster??’ (quietly), as he slurped his Oyster stew and casually glanced over and nodded in affirmative, ‘M’hmm, THAT’s Grandpa Munster.’
Anyway, back to the meal at Casamento’s, last stop was the famous Oyster Loaf, perfectly fried Velvety Oysters served, not on the New Orleans French Bread, but rather on Casamento’s signature pan bread, thick slices of toasted bread which serves as a cradle for the perfectly fried Oysters. You can order it dressed or not. Casamento’s Oyster Loaf is dressed with Iceberg lettuce, tomato, and Mayonnaise, quartered sweet pickle on the side. I’m patting myself on the back for this picture, if you would like to do so also, please return my arm to it’s regular forward position to do so. 🙂
Well, Carnival is in full swing in New Orleans and I am in Detroit. Instead of beads, doubloons, or other trinkets, the Krewe of Mother Nature just threw us another helping of snow, and I have to say……This parade sucks.
Oh well, there is no reason that we can’t at least have some good food to remind us that winter does serve a purpose, at least in my kitchen; slow braised or stewed, stick to your ribs (and arteries) comfort food. Inexpensive cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal, chicken, whatever, slow cooked in a liquid or gravy of some kind until so tender that it practically melts off of the bone.
Tonight was Chicken Fricassee, Louisiana style with a roux, and the holy trinity. My roux here is a little lighter than some would prefer in some parts of Louisiana; I prefer a peanut butter colored roux for this dish. Also note that like a lot of my recipes I add the holy trinity in two stages, about 3/4 goes into the roux after it reaches the peanut butter stage, and the remainder goes in with the liquid. It is a layering of flavor and texture.
It is important to have the sauce for this dish almost fully seasoned before adding the chicken, because you want the chicken to take on all of the flavor of the sauce, although I would just slightly under season with the salt as the sauce will reduce a bit.
For browning the chicken:
1 Cup Flour seasoned with:
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
A few turns of Black Pepper
A healthy pinch of Cayenne
For the Fricassee:
1 Cup Home Rendered Lard, Bacon Drippings, Duck Fat or Vegetable Oil (if you must)
3/4 Cup Flour
2 Cups Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Cup Mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Quart Chicken Stock, preferably homemade
1 Bay Leaf
1 Bundle of Fresh Thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne to taste
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, taken off of the stem and chopped
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Hot sauce
1/2 Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice
Heat the lard, or whichever fat you chose to use, over medium high heat until a small sprinkle of flour quickly sizzles when tossed in. While the fat is heating mix together the flour, salt, black pepper and cayenne, dredge the leg & thigh quarters in the mixture and shake off any excess, set aside on a plate.
When the fat is hot, brown the chicken until golden on both sides, do not cook all the way through, set aside.
Mix together the onions, celery, and bell pepper (holy trinity) in a small bowl.
When the chicken is browned and set aside, pour off 1/2 cup of the fat, leaving about 1/2 cup of it in the pan. Over medium heat gradually whisk in the 3/4 cup of flour until incorporated and slightly thick, stir constantly until a roux the color of peanut butter is achieved, then stir in 3/4 of the holy trinity, mushrooms, and a pinch of Kosher salt, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes more, stirring slowly but constantly.
Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium, cook 5 minutes more. Whisk in the chicken stock very gradually to avoid lumps. When it is all incorporated bring the mixture to a full boil to bring the flour to it’s full thickening power, then reduce the sauce to medium low. Stir in the remaining trinity, garlic, bay leaf, bundled thyme, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Submerge the chicken in the sauce cover and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until falling off of the bone tender. Remove the bundled Thyme and Bay leaf and stir in the chopped Thyme. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Serve the chicken with Creole Boiled Rice, and a generous portion of the sauce topped with Green Onions.
If you like, the sauce or gravy for this dish could be finished with heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche. This would also go great with dumplings to replace the rice.
This is my play on Candied Yams for the rapidly approaching Thanksgiving Holiday. It’s kind of like Candied Yams on PCP, and could easily play as a side dish or a dessert on the holiday table. I gave this one a test run a few weeks back when I cooked the Turducken feast when trying out the Cajun Grocer Turducken.
Praline Sweet Potatoes Recipe
5 Large Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Pecan pieces, toasted until fragrant
For the sauce:
1/2 Cup Bourbon
1/4 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup
1 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1 tsp Kosher Salt
A few turns of freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 1/2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Pecan pieces, toasted until fragrant
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake the Sweet Potatoes in their Jackets until fork tender, about 45 minutes to one hour. Peel while still warm and let cool. When cool slice into 1/2″ rounds.
Layer the sweet potatoes in a large buttered casserole dish. One layer of sweet potatoes, then sprinkle with some of the pecans, another layer of sweet potatoes, then pecans, etc… until the sweet potatoes are all used up, top with the remaining Pecans.
To make the sauce:
Warm the Bourbon in a saucepan over medium heat and ignite to burn off most of the alcohol. When the flames subside add the water, brown sugar, cane syrup, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and sesame oil. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium low and whisk in the butter, until all is incorporated and melted. Pour over the sweet potatoes in the prepared casserole.
Bake in the 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot.
Mother’s Restaurant has been on the corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas since 1938, named after Mary (Mother) Landry who originally owned the restaurant along with her husband Simon and their large family. The Landry family owned and operated the restaurant until 1986 when the Landry sons sold the restaurant to Jerry and John Amato, who still run it today. For a full history of the restaurant with lots of pictures visit here.
Every time that I have visited Mother’s there has always been a long line, even in the off season, nice to see. The line in my experience contains a nice mix of just about everyone, locals, tourists, lawyers (the courthouse is just down the street), people in suits, people in work uniforms, you name it.
The counter help may seem a bit short, but like any other great busy sandwich shop in New Orleans, New York or anywhere, it’s necessary to keep the line moving. As a matter of fact I refuse to eat at a deli in New York with friendly counter help, and insults only make the sandwich taste better. I’m not saying that the fine folks at Mother’s are rude, just don’t expect chit chat during the lunch rush.
The food is good, great Po Boys, Gumbos and soups, I remember having a really great Turtle Soup on a visit years back with nice chunks of Turtle Meat, not ground as in most restaurants. (My Turtle Soup Recipe) Here is their menu!
My favorite sandwich at Mother’s is the Ferdi Special; Roast Beef with Mother’s excellent baked Ham, dressed and with Debris Gravy. The portion seemed a bit leaner than I remember, but then again, maybe I can just eat more now. Actually there is no maybe about it, I can definitely eat more now. I guess the sandwich didn’t get smaller…I’ve gotten larger.
My wife Sheelah went for the Shrimp Po Boy as she usually does when it comes to Po Boys, nice portion of perfectly fried Shrimp, nicely dressed (by the way, Mother’s uses Cabbage to dress their Po Boys instead of shredded lettuce). We both had Zapp’s chips with the sandwich, which always just seems like the right thing to do.
I have to tell you folks, I haven’t been to Mother’s or New Orleans for some time now and looking at these pictures and writing this post makes me heartsick for New Orleans. Actually this site was founded on my heartsickness for New Orleans and her food, people, music, architecture, vibe, everything. It has warmed my heart immensely to hear from displaced folks from New Orleans and Louisiana who are away from their home, and have found at least a little piece of it via recipes and remembrances from my site. I hope this site can bring a little joy to your life as it has mine.
Pepper Jelly, while not an ingredient specific to New Orleans is a staple of the South, including Louisiana. You can probably find a jar of Hot Pepper Jelly in your local grocery store, probably a green or red Jalapeno version, made with food coloring.
The most interesting Pepper Jellies to me are the fancier versions that have been created by some Chefs and home cooks in New Orleans and across the South that have been woven in with other wonderful local flavors to create some fabulous new dishes.
The crown jewel of these dishes, in my humble opinion, is Shrimp and Tasso Henican created by the late Chef Jamie Shannon of Commander’s Palace. Louisiana Shrimp larded with Tasso, sauteed and coated with Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc served on his 5 Pepper Jelly with pickled Okra. Seriously folks, this is one of the greatest dishes I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Here is the Commander’s Palace Recipe, and a pic of my recreation of the dish at home.
A few other dishes in New Orleans restaurants that include Pepper Jelly are Cochon‘s Fried Chicken Livers on Pepper Jelly Toast (read my Cochon Post), and Bayona‘s Smoked Duck “PB&J” with Cashew Butter, Pepper Jelly, and Apple Celery Salad.
I love making a batch of Pepper Jelly to keep around the house because it is such a diverse ingredient. Recently I served it to some guests at a dinner party as a dipping sauce with Spring Rolls.
To Brunoise (very fine dice) the peppers, trim the ends of the peppers and cut the peppers so that you have a relatively flat piece. Lay the pepper flat on the cutting board, press the knife horizontally on the pepper and cut away the ribs and whiter parts of the pepper, pressing down the pepper to the board as you cut, until you have a brightly colored piece of pepper about 1/8″ thick. Now cut into brunoise.
Save all of the trim from the red and yellow peppers, discard the green trim.
Here is the recipe:
Pepper Jelly Recipe
1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into brunoise, discard trim
1 Red Bell Pepper, brunoise, trim reserved
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, brunoise, trim reserved
2 Jalapeno, seeded with ribs removed, brunoise
1 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Fresh Bay Leaf
1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
6 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Liquid Crab Boil
1 Package Liquid Pectin (optional)
Sterilized glass Jelly Jars with lids.
Cut all of the fresh peppers into brunoise and combine.
Combine the trim from the red and yellow peppers with the vinegars in a small saucepan, bring to almost a boil and turn of the heat. Let the pepper trim steep in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Puree the peppers and vinegar mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
Add the strained vinegar back to the saucepan with the sugar, Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer. Add the black pepper, crushed red pepper, crab boil, and the bay leaf. Simmer until reduced by about 1/3.
In the meantime, in a stainless steal saute pan over medium heat, sweat the peppers until very dry, stirring constantly, do not allow to brown. Set aside.
When the sugar and vinegar mixture is reduced remove from the heat. Remove the bay leaf and add the brunoise peppers and the liquid Pectin to the mixture. stir well.
Place in the sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2 inch of room and put the lids on snugly.
Process in a hot water bath with enough water to cover the jars for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature. When cool, check to make sure that the jars created a seal, and tighten the screw lids. Store in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening.