For the past few months I have been entertaining myself with new ways to use spicy Italian sausage. Chili, a dish that admits of infinite variations, sounded like a good bet. I wait for it to turn cold outside, because that's the kind of weather for this. Happy Mardi Gras!
3 large onions, sliced as thin as you can
2 green peppers, cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 lbs. Italian sausage, casings removed
2 28 oz. cans whole Italian tomatoes, chopped with the juice in a food processor
4 cups cooked red beans
2 cups red wine
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. fresh chopped basil
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions with peppers and garlic in olive oil until light brown. Transfer to a large kettle and set aside.
2. Saute Italian sausage until very lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. While cooking, break up the sausage into small pieces. Remove, drain, and add sausage to kettle.
3. Put the kettle over lowest heat and add tomatoes, red beans, wine, oregano, basil, paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, and Tabasco chipotle sauce. Simmer for one to two hours, until thickened to your liking.
Serve in crocks or big bowls, topped with Fontina cheese.
If you're dating someone in a serious way (this includes being married to that person), Valentine's Day dining activities on that day (not the day before or the week after) are mandatory. Like taxes and death.
If that sounds like a cynical male perspective, then you must be a woman. What are you reading this for? Valentine's Day is for women. You don't have to do anything. The whole load is on the guys. Again, the ladies can stop reading now and scroll down to the One Hundred Most Romantic Restaurants page.
Have they all left? All right, fellers. Maybe your relationship has slipped into a very comfortable, personalized groove in which anything either of you does charms the other. Lucky you. Or it could be you have a good dodge. You're a doctor or a fireman. Mine is that our anniversary is three days earlier, and we always do that up large. But it just barely works.
Our culture requires you to take your lady to dinner on Valentine's Day. Restaurateurs say that it would be a good idea to transmogrify the celebration into Valentine's Week–to spread out the crush of customers.
It's unfortunate that on Valentine's restaurants are slammed. All their best customers are there, along with all the people who dine out four times a year. A bad mix. The food and service even in the best restaurants will be off, and sometimes special menus with higher prices are rolled out, to boot.
Valentine's Day falls on the Sunday after Mardi Gras. This means that we have the three best days for celebrating love: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This may allow the Valentine's dates to spread out a bit, and make tables in the best restaurants easier to find. Crowded restaurants are rarely romantic. The most romantic restaurants are those with only a few other people in them. Not only can you feel truly private, but you don't have to listen to the conversations of other would-be lovers. And what a mood buster it is when, as you try to linger over a last glass of wine or coffee, the waiter will begin vibing at you so he can turn the table.
Although Valentine's Day is big for restaurateurs, they're not nuts about it. Why? Because most people who dine out on that day make reservations for two. Many tables that ordinarily would serve four people are half-empty. This is one of the reasons why some restaurants have begun raising prices on Valentine's Day.
These handicaps cannot be calculated to cut any ice whatsoever with the girls. Valentine's Day is just one of those times when we must become supermen, and call in our chips. You did take my advice to become a good regular customer somewhere, didn't you? Even if you did, don't be surprised if you find your favorite regular restaurants are completely booked up when you call three hours before you'd like to be there with your valentine. Two words:
I mean, weeks in advance. Yes, restaurants do take them that far ahead. Most restaurants accept reservations for as much as a year. There is no charge for this. No reason in the world why you shouldn't have taken care of this reservation on, say, Halloween.
When you call, ask that a bottle of your favorite bubbly wine will be waiting in an ice bucket at the table. And have some flowers delivered to the restaurant for your table. Overdo everything. It's the only gambit that gets their attention. You'll thank me later.
I have one final resource for you: my list of the One Hundred Most Romantic Restaurants In New Orleans. This should only be consulted if you have no idea what she likes. Go with the familiar first. Or you might leave the list on your computer screen if you think she might see it. Might give her some ideas. She might even let you in on them. For further assistance, click on the name of any restaurant below, and you'll get NOMenu's current review.
Best of luck. See you on the other side.
100 Best Restaurants For Valentine's Day 2015
The heart ratings are on a scale of five, with five being the best. Click on any restaurant name to go to our current review.
Antoine's. French Quarter: 713 St Louis. 504-581-4422. Creole French. Beautiful dining room
Apolline. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 4729 Magazine St. 504-894-8881. American Gourmet. Elegantly quiet
Beautiful dining room
Arnaud's. French Quarter: 813 Bienville. 504-523-5433. Creole French. Beautiful dining room
Really great food
Really great service
Bayona. French Quarter: 430 Dauphine. 504-525-4455. Eclectic. Really great food
Bistro Daisy. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 5831 Magazine. 504-899-6987. Creole French. Really great food
Brigtsen's. Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 723 Dante. 504-861-7610. Contemporary Creole. Really great food
Really great service
Cafe Giovanni. French Quarter: 117 Decatur. 504-529-2154. Creole Italian. Beautiful dining room
Commander's Palace. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. Contemporary Creole. Beautiful dining room
Really great food
Really great service
Coquette. Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2800 Magazine St. 504-265-0421. Creole French. Elegantly quiet
Dakota. Covington: 629 N US 190. 985-892-3712. Contemporary Creole. Beautiful dining room
Really great food
Really great service
Emeril's. Warehouse District & Center City: 800 Tchoupitoulas. 504-528-9393. Contemporary Creole. Really great food
Really great service
Galatoire's. French Quarter: 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. Creole French. Really great food
I love homemade vegetable soup. My mother used to make this from time to time, and it was never often enough. (She also served us Campbell’s vegetable soup, which instructed us in the differences between prepared and homemade.) I rediscovered this style of vegetable soup when I started going to old places like Tujague’s, Galatoire’s, and Maylie’s, where they used the stock from boiling briskets to make the soup.
What gives this soup a great edge is to boil all the vegetables except the carrots (which lend a nice color to the soup) separately, not in the soup itself. That way, when you add them right before serving, they’re all vivid and firm and full of flavor.
1 1/2 gallons beef stock (preferably from brisket)
A pound or two of boiled beef brisket (optional)
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, with juice
1 small cabbage, cored and chopped coarsely
1 onion, cut up
1 turnip, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
2 lbs. carrots, cut into coins about a half-inch thick
2 lbs. red potatoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
1 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
4 ribs celery, cut into three-inch-long, narrow sticks
2 ears corn, kernels cut off the cobs
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. Tabasco
2 Tbs. salt
1. Put the brisket stock into a kettle or stockpot. Add the canned tomatoes and juice, after crushing them with your fingers. Bring the stock to a light boil, the lower to a simmer. Cut the brisket (if you’re including it) into large cubes, removing any interior fat. Add the meat to the stock.
2. Bring a separate stockpot three-quarters full of water to a light boil. As you cut the vegetables in the order given in the ingredient list, add them to the pot. (Some vegetables take longer to cook than others.)
3. When the potatoes and carrots are soft, strain them and add them to the brisket stock. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for at least a half hour
4. When ready to serve, season to taste with Tabasco and salt. Add all the vegetables and return to a light boil until everything is heated through.
Serves about eight, with lots of leftover soup for the next day.
On my first visit to Italy, we were served risotto with every meal. My favorite versions were those made with green vegetables. Every time I see asparagus in the store, risotto crosses my mind. The critical ingredient is Arborio rice, a variety now widely available even in supermarkets. It’s extra starchy and creates the texture you need. I would also highly recommend using either Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese. Both are expensive, but intense in flavor so that you don’t need to use as much.
In Italy, this would be served as the second course of a big dinner, not as a side dish to the entree, as we would serve it here in America.
1 lb. fresh asparagus
1/2 stick butter
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 leaf fresh mint, chopped
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
1. Cut off the bottom tough inch or so of the asparagus and discard. Cut off the top inch of all the spears and set aside. Slice the asparagus stalks into little disks about 1/4 inch thick.
2. Heat half the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Sauté the green onions, asparagus, salt and crushed red pepper until the asparagus is tender. Add the rice and sauté for about four minutes, stirring more or less constantly.
3. Dissolve the salt in the stock, and add the stock, one cup at a time, stirring until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid. The rice is done when there is no crunch left in the center, and when starch from stirring the rice grains forms a moderate amount of what seems like a creamy sauce. But don’t allow it to get mushy. Texture is everything in risotto. You’ll know it’s ready if you pay close attention throughout the cooking. At that point, remove it from the stove and cover the pot.
4. Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, and cook the asparagus tips for three minutes, or until tender. (Even better: steam them, if you have a steamer.) Drain and stir the tips into the rice, along with the Parmigiano, basil, mint, parsley, and the rest of the butter.
A crawfish boil is THE great casual food party in South Louisiana, especially in the Cajun country. It’s also a celebration of springtime, when the crawfish are available in enough numbers and at a low enough price to buy them live by the sack. April and May are the peak of the crawfish season.
It’s brave of me to include a crawfish boil recipe here. Anybody likely to have crawfish available is also likely to have his own special way of boiling them, and will disdain any other. The main reason I boil crawfish is to make crawfish bisque or etouffee later. It is necessary to boil many more than I will need, because we eat the majority of them while peeling them.
The peeling process goes like this. You break the crawfish where the thorax meets the tail. After removing a segment or two of the tail’s carapace, you can squeeze the meat out by applying pressure just above the tail fin. There is also some good crawfish fat inside the head, which you need to suck out–but that is not for beginners.
One more subtlety. It’s traditional to boil potatoes, corn, heads of garlic, and other things in the pot with the crawfish, and eat them as side dishes. It sounds better than it is, because everything winds up tasting the same. I say (knowing full well I am pronouncing heresy) to cook at least the corn separately.
20 pounds live crawfish
8 large lemons, quartered
6 yellow onions, quartered
1 bunch celery, with leaves, cut into eighths
1 bunch parsley
4-6 bay leaves
1 bunch green onions, cut up
1 bulb of garlic, cut in half
4 bags crab boil or 1/3 cup liquid crab boil
1 1/2 cups salt
1 Tbs. cayenne
3 lbs. whole new potatoes
1. Fill a bucket or your kitchen sink with two or three gallons of cold water with about a half-cup of salt dissolved in it. Dump the crawfish in; the salted water will purge them. Rinse with two or three changes of water until the water is only slightly dirty. Some cooks say that has no effect on anything, but it seems to me worth doing.
2. Bring a large stockpot with five gallons of water to a boil. Add all the other ingredients except the crawfish and potatoes and return to a boil. Let it cook for fifteen minutes.
3. Add the crawfish and the potatoes. Return to a boil, making sure there’s enough water to completely cover the crawfish.
4. After eight minutes, remove the biggest crawfish you see and open it up to make sure the tail meat is firm and opaque. If not, give it another couple of minutes of boiling, but no more than that. If the crawfish are indeed done, turn off the heat and let the crawfish steep for 20-30 minutes. Remove the potatoes when they’re tender. Take the crawfish out when they’ve absorbed the seasonings to the degree you like.
5. At this point, we commence the peeling and eating process which, if you haven’t learned it, you’re better off picking up the technique from a friend than reading about it. The potatoes are a side dish. Discard everything else. Rinse, freeze, and save the crawfish shells for making bisque or etouffee or sauces.
Serves eight normal eaters or two serious crawfish fanatics.
New Orleans has not been historically a great breakfast town–not the way Las Vegas, Chicago, or New York are anyway. But it can claim to be the world’s most famous breakfast house: the one in position #1, below. Beyond Brennan’s, we have so many unique breakfast dishes to play with: pain perdu, grillades and grits, calas, and all those Brennan egg creations. Here are my own favorites. I expect many arguments and suggestions of other inclusions.
An odd curiosity is that the North Shore has more great breakfast places than the city and Jefferson Parish put together.
1. Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. In a class by itself, really. The creator of most of the fancy egg dishes served everywhere, Brennan’s set the standard for breakfast in the 1950s and still does. It’s expensive and more like brunch than breakfast.
2. Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras St. 504-595-3305. The best hotel breakfast in town, and great at that, with superlative versions of the New Orleans breakfasts classics–including the city’s best lost bread.
3. Mattina Bella. Covington: 421 E Gibson. 985-892-0708. A spinoff of the Peppermill in Covington, in a charming antique building. Ask them about their specials, or for anything–they really can cook here. Hardly a better hollandaise anywhere.
Eggs with crabmeat at Liz’s WhereYaAt Cafe.
4. Liz’s Where Y’At Diner. Mandeville: 2500 Florida. 985-626-8477. A colorful, cheery restaurant in old Mandeville, with an unusually creative menu of breakfast dishes and clean, classy cooking. Jammed on weekends, and most of the time on weekdays, too.
5. Peppermill. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3524 Severn Ave. 504-455-2266. The leading breakfast place in Metairie, always full, with great pancakes and surprising fancy dishes, too.
Lost bread found at the Ruby Slipper.
6. Ruby Slipper Cafe. Mid-City: 139 S Cortez. 504-309-5531. ||| CBD: 200 Magazine St. 504-525-9355. ||| Marigny: 2001 Burgundy St. 504-525-9355. |||
CBD: 1005 Canal St. 504-525-9355. The original Ruby Slipper in Mid-City has had them standing on line since they first opened a few years ago. The downtown location is more attuned to people who work downtown. Both make fine specials as well as standard breakfasts.
7. Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe. Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 7801 Panola. 504-314-1810. Owned by the same people as the Peppermill, but with a looser, more rustic menu and a hipper, younger crowd. Hard to believe how popular it is in this obscure backstreet location.
Corned beef hash and eggs at Blue Line.
8. Blue Line Sandwich Company. Metairie 1: Old Metairie: 2023 Metairie Rd. 504-309-3773. Chef Brad McGehee operates a pleasant diner on Metairie Road, with polished versions of every breakfast dish you’ve ever loved. It’s the kind of place you go for a long, lingering breakfast. Unusually good coffee.
9. Eat. French Quarter: 900 Dumaine. 504-522-7222 . One of the French Quarter’s best casual breakfast cafes, with a big menu and classy eats.
10. Coulis. Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 3625 Prytania. 504-304-4265. The passing of owner-chef James Leeming hasn’t sent the place into a tailspin, as his wife and crew keep on serving the sharp breakfasts and lunches.
Beignet sticks at the Fat Spoon.
11. Fat Spoon Cafe. Mandeville: 68480 Highway 59. 985-809-2929. ||| Covington: 2807 North Highway 190. 985-400-5200. The Fat Spoon–aside from its less-than-alluring name–is everything one hopes to find in a local neighborhood breakfast-and-lunch place.The breakfasts are solid throughout, even to details like the coarse-ground grits. The Monday red beans are outstanding, and can be had with a very good link hot sausage.
12. Surrey’s . Uptown: 1418 Magazine. 504-524-3828. ||| 4807 Magazine. 504-895-5757. Juices galore and offbeat breakfast dishes side-by-side with the standards. A bit of a cult following swears by it, and they’re onto something: the ingredients are unusually fine.
The universal sandwich of New Orleans has been for most of a century among the most cherished items on the menus of neighborhood cafes. Even though roast beef with in gravy doesn’t much resemble anything else in the Creole cuisine, a good roast beef (you can leave the words “poor boy” or even “sandwich” out) is held in as high a regard as a great gumbo, shrimp remoulade, or, really, anything else.
Roast beef at Guy’s.
A roast beef is poor boy is made with around a foot-long piece of a long, narrow French loaf baked specifically for the purpose. After being sliced end to end, it’s spread with mayonnaise , studded with pickles, and layered with lettuce and tomatoes. The roast beef itself goes down after a soaking in a thick brown gravy. The beef may be sliced, or shredded into “debris,” or cut into chunks. The argument over which way the beef should be cut down is a matter of eternal debate. If it is to be a really great poor boy, the whole sandwich is popped into a hot oven to toast the exterior of the bread.
The gravy makes the sandwich click. The local preference is for a roast beef to be “sloppy”–with enough gravy so that it oozes out all sides. This idea has lately been taken to ridiculous extremes. Tthere shouldn’t be so much gravy that the bread falls apart, but that is becoming the norm.
An overloaded roast beef poor boy.
The poor boy is sandwich was invented during the streetcar strike of the 1920s by Bennie and Clovis Martin, the owners of Martin’s Poor Boy Restaurant. They were motivated to help out the poor boys on the picket lines with a big, filling sandwich. It contained only scraps of meat for a low price—originally a nickel.
Then and now, a roast beef’s taste is distinctive. It’s reminiscent of the Chicago Italian beef and the Philadelphia cheese steak, but neither of those have the same flavor as a genuine roast beef poor boy. The prospect of eating a roast beef brightens the eyes of any Orlenian. Indeed, my career as a food writer began when, at age eleven, I had my first poor boy. I have sought for that sensation ever since.
Here are what I think are the dozen and a half best general practitioners of the poor-boy sandwich art.
1. Parkway Poor Boys. Mid-City: 538 Hagan Ave. 504-482-3047. The only way you could possibly not like Parkway is if you hate standing in line. Recently, this has been ameliorated by the addition of a new kitchen. All the roasting and other preparations are performed in house, with a degree of care and attention not often matched even in white-tablecloth restaurants.
2. Sammy’s Food Service. Gentilly: 3000 Elysian Fields Ave . 504-947-0675 . Sammy’s is, in addition to a great breakfast and lunch cafe in a part of town with few restaurants, a full-fledged butcher shop that cuts the meats for many another poor boy shop. The roast beef is supreme.
3. Johnny’s Po-Boys. French Quarter: 511 St Louis. 504-524-8129.Johnny’s makes all the classic poor boys, but their mammoth roast beef is close to the perfect poor boy experience.
Roast beef poor boy at the Po-Boy Company.
4. Liuzza’s By The Track. Esplanade Ridge: 1518 N Lopez. 504-218-7888. Liuzza’s bangs out variations on the classics throughout its menu. The best example of this is the “breathtaking roast beef poor boy,” enhanced by the simple addition of a significant amount of horseradish to the mayonnaise. I thought it impossible to improve the basic roast beef poor boy formula until I had this.
5. Katie’s. Mid-City: 3701 Iberville. 504-488-6582. Almost all the cooking is accomplished with better ingredients than the average at these prices. The roast beef–an item by which a lot of people judge restaurants like this–is as good as it gets. Katie’s is famous for “The Barge,” a poor boy made with an entire loaf of French bread. But you’re better off getting the standard-size, still-enormous sandwich.
6. Giorlando’s. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 741 Bonnabel. 504-835-8593. Giorlando’s opened in 1972 as a self-service poor boy shop, and became famous for its roast beef. It has a full menu of New Orleans and Italian food, while the roast beef is as fine as ever.
7. Pontchartrain Po-Boys. Mandeville: 318 Dalwill Dr. 985-626-8188. A serious kitchen cooking all the important items (roast beef, red sauce, gumbo, red beans, etc.) The poor boys are classic, perhaps because the restaurant is a refugee from St. Bernard Parish–a poor boy haven–after Katrina.
8. R&O’s. West End & Bucktown: 216 Old Hammond Hwy. 504-831-1248.R&O (for Roland and Ora, the founders) began in 1980 as a tiny cafe with pizza as the specialty, but poor boys being even better. The bread is offbeat, a light, seeded, Italian-French loaf. It’s full at all hours.
Katie’s roast beef poor boy.
9. Liuzza’s. Mid-City: 3636 Bienville. 504-482-9120. Although Italian food dominates, Liuzza’s makes terrific poor boy sandwiches of enormous size and the perfect consistency and quantity of gravy.
10. Bear’s. Covington: 128 W 21st Ave. 504-892-2373. Bear’s is a converted convenience store, a good sign. (Never trust a poor boy place built for the purpose.) It’s always full of customers for their roast beef poor boys, whose beef is thinly sliced and tender (and cooked on the premises). The gravy is flavorful not too thick, and applied in the right amounts. And the bread is ideally fresh.
11. Frankie & Johnny’s. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 321 Arabella St. 504-243-1234. Frankie and Johnny’s is a long-running (since 1942) neighborhood cafe in which the poor boy sandwiches come in second only to the work at the oyster bar. Here is the best version around of the chunky style of roast beef, with a great gravy. The new owner and chef used to be the go-to guy in Emeril’s kitchens across the country.
12. Parran’s Po-Boys. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3939 Veterans Blvd. 504-885-3416. Few old-style New Orleans neighborhood cafes exist in Metairie. Even though it’s in a strip mall in the Veterans Boulevard sprawl, Parran’s is a fine example of the genre. Indeed, it’s been around longer than many shops in the old neighborhoods. The cooking, surroundings and prices are all reminiscent of the great old poor boy makers of decades ago. Recently, the owners opened a second location in Kenner.
12. Parran’s Po-Boys. Kenner: 2321 W Esplanade Ave. 504-885-3416.
As with many Louisiana dishes, jambalaya has distinctive Creole and Cajun versions. Creole jambalaya is reddish, a color it gets from tomatoes. Cajun jambalaya never includes tomatoes, and is brown. Creole jambalaya almost always contains shrimp. Cajun jambalaya usually includes smoked sausage or tasso. Which jambalaya is better is the subject of one of the longest-running arguments in the annals of Louisiana cookery.
Instead of stepping into that mess, I present here my favorite kind of jambalaya. It has some elements of both styles, with oysters giving a unique flavor. I don’t like tomatoes in jambalaya, so I leave them out–but if you add a 16-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with the vegetables, that would be okay and quite authentic.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 lbs. chicken pieces, bone in
2 lb. andouille or smoked sausage, sliced across 1/4 inch thick
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups oyster water or chicken stock, plus enough more water to make 7 cups total
1 Tbs. Tabasco
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1 Tbs. salt-free Creole seasoning
1 Tbs. salt
4 cups (uncooked) Uncle Ben’s rice (or similar par-boiled rice)
2 green onions, sliced
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 dozen large fresh oysters
1. Heat the oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Add the chicken and sausage and brown the chicken all over, till it sticks to the pan somewhat.
2. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic, and sauté until they wilt.
3. Add the oyster water or stock and enough more water to make 7 cups total. Bring to a light boil, stirring to dissolve the browned bits in the pot.
4. Add Tabasco, Worcestershire, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, Creole seasoning and salt. Bring the pot to a boil, Lower to a light boil and cook for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the chicken. Stir the rice into the pot. Cover and lower to a simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and set aside.
6. When the rice is cooked, stir in the chicken, green onions, parsley, and oysters. Stir all the ingredients well with a big spoon or wooden paddle. Continue to cook, uncovered, at the lowest possible temperature, stirring gently every couple of minutes, until the rice is just beginning to dry. Add seasonings to taste.
I love blackeye peas, which have a much more assertive taste than most beans. I really think that you have to cook them differently from the way you cook red beans. This method heads off in the direction of barbecue beans, without the sauce. It helps to boil the beans the night before, then bake them all morning long. This is actually my wife’s recipe, and we serve it at most of the casual barbecues we are called upon to do.
1 lb. dried blackeye peas
2/3 cup Steen’s cane syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 whole cloves
2 Tbs. Pickapeppa or Tabasco New Orleans steak sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp. summer savory
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. Creole mustard
1/2 pound lean bacon, cut into squares
1. Sort through the beans to remove bad ones and dirt, then rinse well. Put them into a pot with enough water to cover them about four inches deep, and bring to a light boil. Boil for one hour.
2. Drain the beans well and put them into a baking dish with all the other ingredients. Mix well.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bring two cups of water to a boil. Top the beans with just enough boiling water to just barely cover them.
4. Put the baking dish into the preheated oven and bake for three hours. Check it every hour, stirring and adding a little more water if the beans seems to be getting dry.
This is a Creole-Italian dish if ever there was one. It’s reminiscent of veal speidini from Italy, but it has a distinctly New Orleans flavor.
1 stick butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 dozen oysters
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 eight-inch-long piece of stale French bread, cut into cubes
1 cup oyster water
8 veal leg medallions, about 2 oz. each, cut across the grain
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. Creole seasoning
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs. small capers
1. Melt the butter in a skillet, and sauté the onions and celery until soft. Add the oysters and the lemon juice, and cook until the oysters just begin to curl.
2. Soak the bread cubes in the oyster water, and add to the pan. Cook until everything is heated through. Remove from the heat.
3. Pound out the veal medallions. Mix the Creole seasoning into the flour, and sprinkle (don’t dredge) the veal with the blend.
4. Spoon the oyster dressing in a line down the center of the veal. Roll the veal around the stuffing and secure with toothpicks
5. Melt 1 Tbs. butter in a skillet and brown the veal rolls well on all sides. Remove and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
6. Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the veal juices in the pan. Reduce the wine by about half, then remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter. Add the capers, and serve the sauce over the veal rolls, two per person.