Tag Archives: louisiana

Andouille Sausage

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This is my latest batch of Andouille, I’m very happy with it. I used my recipe for Andouille but I changed my smoking technique a bit. I recently bought a Bradley Smoker, which now gives me the option of cold smoking which I did here. I smoked this batch at 90-100 degrees F for 10 hours with Pecan wood smoke, then I let it hang in the refrigerator for 3 days, to continue to cure and dry out a bit.

I cut into one link so that you could see the coarse texture. I hand chopped half of the meat from a 5 pound Boston Butt into small cubes, and ground the other half. I also added additional fat which I cubed, as you can see in the cut link.

This is not a paid advertisement for Bradley smokers. I love this contraption. It has a mechanism that feeds the compressed woodchips, called bisquettes onto a small hotplate that makes a perfectly clean smoke for 20 minutes then dumps the spent bisquette into a bowl of water, while feeding a new one onto the plate. There is a heat element in the smoke tower, that allows you to control the temperature. You can fill the smoke generator up with bisquettes and let it run for 8 hours without even touching it. It works so well that it almost takes the fun out of it for me. 🙂 I’m so used to tending the fire.

The only downside that I’ve found with this smoker so far is that you’re locked in to buying their Bisquettes“>bisquettes, but you can get them relatively cheaply on the net, about $15 dollars for 48 bisquettes. I paid around $300 for the smoker, which I thought was a steal. I first read about it in, what is in my humble opinion, the best cookbook to come out in years, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Detroit area Chef Brian Polcyn. Their recommendation really paid off, I really love my new toy.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes!

Related Posts:

Jacob’s Andouille

For more on Andouille see Jason Perlow’s All About Andouille post at Off the Broiler!

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Redfish Courtbouillon

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From Nola Cuisine

This is the city or Creole version of the great Louisiana Courtbouillons, the other being the Cajun Catfish Courtbouillon (COO-be-yahn). The major difference in my two versions is the absence of a Roux in this one and of course the type of fish. I actually used Red Snapper for this version. Although Redfish is preferred and classic, I went with what I could get freshest.

According to the The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901:

Those kings of the New Orleans French Market the Red Snapper and the Redfish, are used in the pride and glory of the New Orleans cuisines, a good Courtbouillon. More generally and with finer results the Redfish or Poisson Rouge is used. This Fish may always be known by the single spot on the tail. The old Creoles have a tradition that this was the fish that the Apostles brought to the Savior when he performed the great miracle of the loaves and the fishes. They hand down the quaint legend that the Savior took up this fish between his fingers and blessed it, and it was ever after a marked fish in the waters, the imprint of the Lord’s fingers having remained on the spot where He held up the fish and blessed it and offered it up to His Father. They hold the Redfish in reverent veneration, and never fail to tell the children when cooking it: ‘Those are the marks of the Lord’s hand.’

More on Redfish Courtbouillon from what I’ve said before is one of my absolute favorite reads on the subject of Creole & Cajun cooking, the long out of print 1971 Time-Life publication
American cooking: Creole and Acadian (Foods of the world) by Peter S. Feibleman:

Stop and have a bowl of redfish courtbouillon, a dish that is to the bayous and marshes and Gulf coast what a hamburger is to the Midwest. A rich brown roux has been made and combined with tomato puree, onions, shallots, garlic, celery and bell pepper. Bay leaves and allspice and red pepper and other spices have been added, and a dash of Tabasco. Redfish meat and a bit of claret have been put in and simmered gently for an hour, and the courtbouillon is served in a gumbo bowl with rice. It is red and thick and searing, and just one taste of it makes you imagine that you can stand up even to the weather.

When making your Creole Sauce for this recipe be sure to make it extra thick, otherwise the liquid the fish lets out while cooking will make your sauce watery.

Here is my recipe:

From Nola Cuisine

Redfish Courtbouillon Recipe

2 Whole Redfish, Red Snapper, or other firm fleshed fish (scaled, gutted and trimmed of all fins)
1 Cup Flour, liberally seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne
2 Tbsp Unsalted butter
1/4 Cup dry white wine
1 Recipe Creole Sauce, made with fish stock, and made extra thick
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
2 bunches fresh Thyme, 1/2 of which tied tightly with butcher’s twine
1 Bay Leaf
1 Recipe Creole Boiled Rice as an accompaniment

Season the fish all over including in the cavity with kosher salt, black pepper and a little cayenne. Place some of the sliced lemon and 1/2 of the Thyme into the cavity of each fish.
Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour and warm the unsalted butter in a large cast iron skillet.
When the butter just starts to brown place the fish in the pan, cook until golden brown on both sides.
Remove the fish to a plate and deglaze the pan with the white wine. When the wine reduces slightly, add the fish back to the pan and ladle enough Creole Sauce to come up the sides of the fish by half, plus ladle a little on top of the fish.
Add the Thyme and bay leaf to the pan and place some of the lemon slices on top of the fish. Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and place into a 350 degree over for 30 minutes.

When plating, carefully remove the fish and filet gently being careful to get rid of all of the bones. An alternate method would be to filet the fish raw and use the head and bones to make your fish stock.

Serve with Creole Boiled Rice and garnish with chopped parsley, lemon slices, and a genourous helping of the Creole Sauce from the pan.

Serves 2-4 depending on the size of your fish.

From Nola Cuisine

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which is a directory of all of the recipes featured on this site!

Related Posts:

Cajun Catfish Courtbouillon Recipe

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Turbo Dog Barbecue Sauce Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

Barbecue Sauce is just one of those things that American outdoor cooks just love to tweak and experiment with, I’m no exception. I like my sauce to be balanced with sweetness and acidity with the appropriate amount of heat, and I never use liquid smoke because it tastes like liquid smoke. I do however throw a handful of well washed wood chips into the sauce while it’s simmering for a woodsy flavor, the chips are later strained out. I achieve the smoky flavor during the cooking process.

Abita Turbo Dog is a dark beer from Abita Springs, Louisiana with flavors of chocolate, coffee and carmel, which adds a nice depth to this sauce.

Turbo Dog Barbecue Sauce recipe

1 Bottle Abita Turbo Dog
2 cups Ketchup
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (see note here for homemade)
2 Tbsp Creole Mustard
1 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
1 Tbsp Crystal Hot Sauce
1 Tbsp Basic Barbecue Rub
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 Jalapeno, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 handful Pecan wood chips (well washed)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is thickly coats the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Try it with my Baby Back Ribs with Turbo Dog Barbecue Sauce!

From Nola Cuisine

Related Posts:

Baby Back Ribs with Turbo Dog Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Basic Barbecue Rub

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Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

I had a taste for Southern Fried Chicken last night, so that is what I made. Sometimes you need to scratch your own itch, and boy did I do some scratchin’ last night, this was the best batch of Fried Chicken that I’ve made to date. Perfectly seasoned, crispy as heck, tender and juicy on the inside. Hey sometimes we need to pat ourselves on the back too. 🙂

This recipe is a combination of Austin Leslie’s Fried Chicken recipe and my Mom’s. My Mom really taught me how to fry chicken well, she showed me how to turn it often to prevent over browning, and how to know when it’s done. She makes it so well that I often get cravings for it, like the one I had last night, and Dad says that it would be his last meal request if ever facing the firing squad.

Here is my version of what I’ve learned so far about Fried Chicken:

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

3-4 lbs Chicken parts, I like legs because that’s what Mom always made, plus it’s hard to dislike food with it’s own handle.
Water, enough to cover the chicken
Kosher salt, enough to make the water taste salty (obviously tasted before adding the raw chicken.)

Peanut Oil for frying, enough to fill a large cast iron skillet about half way

3/4 Cup Flour
4 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne

Combine the water with the salt, submerge the chicken and let sit in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. This will help make the chicken more tender and add flavor.

After the time has passed drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

Place the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a paper lunch bag. Mix well. Add the chicken two pieces at a time, shaking to coat well with the seasoned flour, shake off the excess. When all chicken is floured, set aside for twenty minutes before frying. This step will help make the finished product more crisp.

Heat the peanut oil to 360 degrees F. Fry the chicken in batches, turning often (about every ten minutes) so that it cooks evenly, and doesn’t get too brown too fast. Try to fry equal sized pieces in the same batch. When the chicken looks close to being done hold it with tongs and pierce (be careful; the oil will sputter) with a carving fork, then squeeze to let the blood out (a la Austin Leslie). Cook until done. If you’re not sure if it’s done, dig into one piece with your tongs, down to the bone to see if it is cooked through. It should take about 15-20 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels or a wire rack.

More info on Fried Chicken:

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe at American Gourmand
Austin Leslie Bio
Austin Leslie’s Fried Chicken Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! Visit my other blog American Gourmand!

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New Orleans Style Bordelaise Sauce Recipe

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For my wife’s first home cooked meal since coming home from the hospital with our little Anna (new pic added). I made Grilled Marinated Pork Chops with New Orleans Style Bordelaise sauce, green onion mashed potatoes, and asparagus. Just good old home cooking. It really hit the spot for both of us since we spent the last five days eating inedible hospital food and a lot of take out.

New Orleans Style Bordelaise is very different than the classic french wine sauce; actually it bears absolutely no resemblance and it has as many variations as there are cooks in New Orleans. Probably the best use for this sauce is tossed into pasta, preferably spaghetti, but I like it very much over a grilled Ribeye or any grilled meat. I made sure to also pour some over the asparagus. The recipe:

New Orleans Style Bordelaise Sauce Recipe

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
1 Sprig of Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 Spritz of fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick of Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add the oil to a heated saute pan. Add the garlic, Thyme, and Bay leaf. Saute the garlic until it just starts to slightly brown then add the lemon juice, and the cold butter, incorporating by shaking the pan back and forth until melted. When the butter is totally melted strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, then add back to the pan. Add the parsley and season to taste with Kosher salt and pepper.

Makes around 1/3 of a cup.

For the Pork:

I marinated the pork in garlic, Rosemary, lemon juice, a little creole mustard, extra virgin olive oil, and red pepper flakes for about 2 hours. I grilled it to a little over medium.

For the Asparagus:

First blanch the asparagus until al dente, then shock in an ice bath. Remove from the water and set aside until just ready to eat.
To serve heat 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil & 2 Tbsp Unsalted butter in a saute pan. Add a crushed clove of garlic to the pan with the asparagus. Heat through and season well with salt & pepper.

For the Green Onion Mashed Potatoes

Peel and boil 3 Russet Potatoes, drain and mash with a potato masher. In a mixing bowl add the potatoes, 2 Tbsp Green Onions, 4 Tbsp Unsalted butter and enough cream or half & half to make them nice and creamy. Season well with salt and pepper.

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Homemade Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream

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Here is the latest batch of Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream, made from the Creole Cream Cheese which I made the other day. It’s texture is like velvet, and the flavor like frozen cheesecake, I can’t get enough. I made a quick strawberry sauce to accompany this (recipe follows), though it goes just fine all alone. The recipes:

Homemade Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream Recipe

1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Large Egg Yolks
2/3 Cup Creole Cream Cheese
1/3 Cup good quality Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche

Combine the Cream, Milk, Sugar, and Vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the mixture just starts to boil, remove from the heat. Put the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl, then temper the yolks with a little of the milk mixture. Combine the two mixtures. then return them to the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook the custard until it coats the back of a wooden spoon, 2-4 minutes, DO NOT BOIL. Strain into a mixing bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least a few hours (you want it very cold before it enters the ice cream machine). Meanwhile, combine the Creole Cream Cheese and Sour Cream then put them through a fine mesh sieve, mashing them through with the back of a wooden spoon. When the custard is cold, fold in the Creole Cream Cheese and Sour Cream. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve as is or freeze overnight for a firmer ice cream.

Makes 1 Quart (You’ll wish you had doubled it! My Creole Cream Cheese Recipe makes enough for a double batch of Ice Cream.)

Strawberry Dessert Sauce Recipe

1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, chopped
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Tbsp Grand Marnier

Add the ingredients to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries break down slightly, and the sauce reduces a bit. Chill.

I also added some additional chopped fresh strawberries to the cooled sauce for more texture.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which features links to all of the recipes on this site.

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Creole Cream Cheese Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

I made a fresh batch of Creole Cream Cheese yesterday that I finished today. I just ate what you see in the picture, sprinkled heavily with sugar, and I can tell you honestly, you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t try this recipe. This is the easiest cheese in the world to make, and you will learn more on its versatility, when I post further with recipes for Creole Cream Cheese Cheescake, and Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream (a.k.a Frozen Creole Cream Cheese, my fave, which I will make in the next few days.

By the way, what I used for a cheese mold this time was an inexpensive silicone muffin tin, which I punched drainage holes into with a hole puncher, traditionally used for paper (but not here on Nola Cuisine).

The way I have presented Creole Cream Cheese here is at its simplest, the way it was meant to be served; sweetened with fresh fruit and cream as a breakfast treat. Give it a shot, it is extremely cheap and easy to make.

I wrote an extensive post on this subject with the recipe just over a year ago, which I am including below because:

a.) I didn’t have this wonderful camera to show the fruits (no pun intended) of my labor a year ago, and a picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words.

b.) I worked hard reasearching this post, so it bears repeating, at least for my sake (or your sake if you plan on making this recipe.)

Here is the post and recipe from July 29, 2005, about a month before Hurricane She Who Shall Not Be Named reared her ugly head on the wonderful city of New Orleans. I hope you enjoy and learn as much from this post as I did researching and making the dish:

Creole Cream Cheese used to be widely available in New Orleans, over time however it became harder to find, and never outside of Louisiana. It’s a soft cheese eaten as a breakfast treat, sprinkled with sugar, covered with cream or half & half, and usually fresh fruit. This is what “>The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901 had to say about the subject:

Cream Cheese is always made from clabbered milk. The ‘Cream Cheese Woman’ is still as common a sight on our New Orleans streets as the Cala Woman was in the days gone by. She carries a covered basket in which are a number of small perforated tins in which the Cheeses are. In her other hand she carries a can of fresh Cream. She sells her wares to her regular customers, for the old Creoles who do not make their own Cream Cheese are very particular as to whom they buy from, and when once a good careful, clean woman gets a ‘customer’ she keeps her during her period of business, coming every fast day and Friday with her Cheese and Cream, for this is a great fast-day breakfast and luncheon dish.

The “Cream Cheese Woman” has long ago gone the way of the “Cala Woman”, but fortunately for me, I enjoy making it myself. It’s a fairly long but very simple process; combined, about 10 minutes of actual work. Rennet is a coagulating enzyme which comes from a young animal’s stomach, but there are also vegetable varieties. It comes in liquid or tablet form, I use the liquid animal variety. Although I had a hard time finding it in my area, you may find it in tablet form in the baking aisle at your grocer. If not, do what I did and order it from Cheese Supply(dot)com. The shipping is a little steep for just a small item, so I ordered some Manchego, Cheesecloth, and a few other items to pad the bill. The recipe:

Creole Cream Cheese Recipe

2 Quarts Skim Milk
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
8 drops Liquid Rennet or 2 tablets
Cheesecloth

Combine the skim and buttermilk in a good sized saucepan. Over medium heat bring the mixture to 110 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Pour the heated mixture into a large, non-metal bowl. Add the rennet, stir and cover with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. After a few hours there should be chunks (Curds) and liquid (Whey), try to keep Miss Muffet at bay. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, then spoon the curds into the colander, try to keep them intact. Let this drain for 1 hour or until it is one solid piece. Discard the Whey, or make Ricotta, which is made from cooked Whey. I haven’t tried it yet, but next time I will. Place gently into a bowl and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve with sugar, half & half, and fresh fruit.

*New* I have another recipe for Creole Cream Cheese that says you cannot use Homogenized milk. I’ll have to locate some to see if there is any difference in the finished product. The same recipe states you can substitute reconstituted dry skim milk. Another variation in this recipe is the use of Plain Yogurt as the culture, in place of the buttermilk. I will post when I try this.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! It’s an index with links to all of the recipes featured on this site. Also check out my new sister site to Nola Cuisine called American Gourmand!

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File Gumbo Recipe

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I finally got around to making a Fil&#233 Gumbo to take my pure Sassafras Fil&#233 powder for a test spin. I found that the flavor is much more subtle, and the thickening power is about 10 times that of the store bought. I’ve always felt that the store bought Fil&#233 always hijacks the flavor of my Gumbos, which means all of my hard work with seasoning and flavor are dashed with a dash of store bought Fil&#233. I like to serve my Fil&#233 at the table so my guests can add as much or as little as they like. Here is the recipe:

Fil&#233 Gumbo Recipe

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
4 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
1 Cup Onions, diced
1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup Celery, diced
1 Cup Andouille, sliced or diced
1/2 Cup Tasso, diced
3 Tbsp Garlic, chopped
8 Cups Shrimp or Seafood Stock
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
4 Chicken Thighs, boned cut into 1″ pieces, then seasoned liberally with Creole Seasoning
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce to taste
1 lb. Fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Dozen Oysters, shucked
Kosher Salt to taste, if necessary
2 Tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
1/4 Cup Thinly Sliced Green Onions
Creole Boiled Rice
Fresh French Bread
Fil&#233 Powder at the table

Mix your onion, celery, and bell pepper together: The Holy Trinity.
Heat the oil in a cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook to make a milk chocolate Roux (making a Roux). Add the Andouille, 1 Tbsp of Seasoning, and 3/4 of the Holy Trinity, cook, stirring often, for about ten minutes or until the vegetables soften. Gradually whisk in the stock, then add the remaining seasoning, and Garlic. Bring to a Boil, then down to a simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and simmer until cooked through. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve add the shrimp, cook until done, then add the oysters and cook until the edges curl. Add the Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, and 1/2 of the Green Onions. Serve with Creole Boiled Rice, crusty French Bread, and a good cold beer (I like Dixie or Abita Amber).
Garnish with green onions, parsley, and Fil&#233 powder at the table.

* I prefer Chicken Thighs for my soups and Gumbos. It’s the misunderstood portion of the bird, which is fine by me because it keeps the price down. I get them bone in, then Cartel wrap the bones and stick them in the freezer for stock. I’m like a Vulture when it comes to bones for stocks, my freezer looks like the Catacombs (animals only of course).

This makes about 3-4 Main Course Servings

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes.

For more information on Fil&#233 see the following posts:

Homemade Fil&#233 Powder Recipe
Sassafras trees & FIl&#233 Powder
Fil&#233 Powder

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Homemade Fil&#233 Powder

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From Nola Cuisine

I finally made a small batch of homemade Fil&#233 Powder, and I can’t believe the difference between the true Fil&#233 and the store bought variety.

The Fil&#233 that I made smells subtle and fruity like coriander seeds, or as my wife said, “Fruit Loops.” It’s color as you can see, is army green, and I’m assuming that it’s thickening power is way more intense than the store bought, which I’ve noticed has zero thickening power at all, and has a flavor that can almost take over the flavor of your Gumbo.

The store bought Fil&#233 smells very woodsy, and you can detect some thyme and possibly some bay leaf in there, it’s color is tan. One that I saw recently contained Sage, Oregano, and Thyme, and no Sassafras at all. There are definately some good ones out there, but definately some really bad ones. For example, here is a picture of the two side by side, the store bought is in the background, my homemade is in the foreground:

From Nola Cuisine

The following is from the 1978 book Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz by Howard Mitcham:

The Story of Fil&#233

For hundreds of years the Choctaw Indians have had a settlement at Bayou Lacombe on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and they had a way of making Gumbo long before the white man and the black man arrived. They invented fil&#233 (pronounced feelay). The tender green leaves of the sassafras tree are gathered, dried, and ground to a powder. Only a few tablespoons of the powder will thicken a whole pot of Gumbo and give it a flavor that’s spicy and pleasant. The fil&#233 must always be added after the pot is removed from the fire. If allowed to boil, it becomes stringy and unpalatable. Okra and fil&#233 should never be used together in a Gumbo or it will be as thick as mud. The Creoles in New Orleans used fil&#233 only in the wintertime, when fresh okra was not available but many Cajuns prefer fil&#233 gumbo year-round. They pass a big bowl of fil&#233 around at the table, so that all the guests may take as much as they want.

The Indians also supplied dried bay leaves (laurel), an essential flavoring element in most Creole soups and stews. At the old French Market there were always several Choctaws sitting in the shade of the arcade, peddling their small caches of fil&#233 and dried bundles of bay leaves.

On several visits to Bayou Lacombe a few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet one of the last of those Indian fil&#233 makers. His name was Nick Ducre, and he was over eighty-five, very proud, wise and independent. He owned a few acres of very valuable land on the banks of the bayou. Rich folks had built up bayou estates all around him, but he clung to his land and kept it in a primitive state with plenty of game-coons, possums, squirrels, rabbits, and even a few deer. A great story teller, he told us much about the good old days in the early part of the century. Once a month he would take a schooner across the lake to New Orleans and sell his fil&#233 and bay leaves at the market at the New Basin Canal. He would sell out in one day, buy himself a pint of whiskey, and sail for home that night, a happy Indian.

At our last parting Nick gave me a sample jar of his homemade fil&#233, and I made a pot of gumbo with part of it. Because I didn’t realize just how strong it was, I overdid it. That gumbo got so thick, the stirring spoon stood upright in it. I have saved the rest of that fil&#233 as a memento of one of the best Indians I ever knew.

So whenever you eat gumbo fil&#233, give a thought to the almost vanished Choctaws of Lacombe. fil&#233 of a commercial grade can be purchased at any grocery store in New Orleans and in the Cajun country, but the homemade kind is stronger and tastier. If you can’t find an Indian source, you can make it yourself by pounding dried sassafras leaves with pestle and mortar. And while you’re at it, pound up a few bay leaves for a terrific flavoring element.

The Choctaws and their Fil&#233 are long gone from the French Market, which is now little more than a tourist trap to purchase Mardi Gras beads, T-shirts, and a million varieties of hot sauce. It’s still a must stop though, if just to feel the history of the old French Market.

Here is a quote from Leah Chase regarding Fil&#233 from the 1978 publication Creole Feast by Nathaniel Burton & Rudy Lombard:

I don’t buy the fil&#233 powder for my gumbo off the shelves. My daddy makes it for me. He grinds it himself and it is perfect because it is pure sassafras. He has sassafras trees and he dries the leaves. The fil&#233 from a store will have maybe a little bay leaf in it and it’s much weaker. Mine is pure sassafras, nothing mixed in, and it’s always fresh and strong. Daddy sends it to me in little mayonnaise bottles.

From Nola Cuisine

How to make homemade Fil&#233 Powder

Locate a Sassafras tree and take some branches containing the younger, more tender leaves.

From Nola Cuisine

Hang the branches outside to dry (preferably out of the direct sun) for about one week.

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

When the leaves are completely dry, remove the leaves from the stems and pulverize very well in a mortar and pestle, or an electric coffee grinder as I did.

Pass the powder through a very fine sieve, or a metal coned coffee filter as I did. It was a painstaking process as the mesh was too fine, but it worked to remove all of the little twigs, and tough pieces.

Store in an airtight container and keep out of the sunlight.

I feel a Fil&#233 Gumbo in Nola Cuisine’s very near future, I will keep you posted.

**Update** I recently noticed a container of Tony Chachere’s File powder at the store and picked some up. It’s the real deal, pure Sassafras, just like my homemade. Highly recommended!

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which provides links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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Chicken Pontalba Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine

This is the last of the fancy New Orleans Chicken dishes that I’m going to feature for awhile, and I finished with my absolute favorite.
This dish was created by the great dutch Chef Paul Blange during the early days of Brennan’s Restaurant. It’s named for the Baroness Micaela Pontalba, famous for supervising the construction of the Pontalba buildings on the uptown and downtown sides of Jackson Square, and for the beautification of the square itself in 1848.
Legend has it that her friend Andrew Jackson, once failed to raise his hat to the Baroness, so when she funded the statue baring his likeness she insisted that sculptor Clark Mills depict Jackson forever raising his hat toward her apartment building. Probably not true, but it’s one hell of a fun story.

The Recipe:

Chciken Pontalba Recipe

2 Boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs, lightly pounded
1 Large Baking Potato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3/4 Cup Ham, Diced
1 Small Onion Diced
1 1/2 Cups Mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 Tbsp Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Tbsp Italian Parsley, Minced
1/2 Cup All purpose Flour
Kosher salt & Black Pepper
Cayenne
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, in all
Vegetable Oil
1 Recipe Bearnaise Sauce

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the Potatoes in 2 Tbsp Vegetable oil and season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Layer on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and crispy.

In the meantime, season the flour with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Season the thighs also, then dredge them in the flour.

When the potatoes are almost ready, heat 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil in a saute pan. When the fat is hot, brown the chicken quickly on both sides, place on a ovenproof dish and finish in the oven.

In the same saute pan, add the ham and onions, saute until golden brown and the onions are tender. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and a Tbsp more butter. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and cook until the alcohol evaporates.
Fold in the brabant potatoes from the oven and 1 Tbsp of the parsley, taste for seasonings. just before serving incorporate the last Tbsp of butter.

Split the potato mixture between two heated plates. Top each with a chicken thigh, and finish with a generous portion of Bearnaise sauce. Garnish with minced parsley.

Serves 2.

More fancy New Orleans Chicken dishes at Nola Cuisine:

Chicken Clemenceau
Chicken Bonne Femme
Chicken Rochambeau

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