If you've never had New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp, you're forgiven for thinking you're about to see a recipe for shrimp swamped in smoky-sweet BBQ sauce. Instead, get ready for a spicy, vinegary, garlicky, wow-that's-a-lot-of-butter sauce, and have a crusty piece of bread on hand to soak up every last drop when the shrimp are gone.
'New Orleans' on Serious Eats
Inspired by the classic New Orleans muffuletta sandwich, we roll a butterflied flank steak with prosciutto, capicola, mortadella, provolone, and a punchy olive salad, then slice it into colorful pinwheels that get grilled over a hot fire.
Creamed spinach topped with artichoke hearts, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce is a hearty alternative to eggs Benedict, and a New Orleans classic.
The classic New Orleans cold cut and olive salad sandwich gets pressed for a more intense, flavorful experience.
The classic olive salad used for seasoning muffuletta sandwiches. It also makes a fantastic burger or pizza topping.
Brown the roux in the microwave while the veggies cook and you can have this hearty Cajun stew on the table in under an hour.
The succotash I grew up eating was a simple side dish of lima beans, corn, onion, black pepper, and a big hunk of butter. But despite my familiarity with the basic version, I am open to different interpretations of the dish (as long as it still contains butter, corn, and limas, of course). This creole succotash from the Treme cookbook is kind of like a tricked out version of the classic. In addition to the requisite vegetables, you'll find okra, celery, bell pepper, shrimp, and two kinds of pork.
New Orleans may be best known around these parts for beignets and King Cake, but when it comes time to celebrate your birthday in the Big Easy, it's the Doberge Cake (that's pronounced DOUGH-bash for the folks at home), a layered cake with lemon and chocolate that steals the show.
The classic New Orleans sandwich combines a homemade olive salad with layers of thin-sliced Italian cold cuts. The secret is to let it rest before eating so the olive juices get absorbed into the bread.
For folks outside of New Orleans, the square, fried fritters which are covered (perhaps buried) in powdered sugar are probably most closely associated with the French Quarter's famed Cafe Du Monde, a coffee shop established back in 1862.
I don't need any convincing about the glory of the po' boy. It's just that when I think of the New Orleans sandwich, my mind immediately imagines fried oysters or luscious roast beef—never bad things to think about. That was until I was flipping through Crescent City Cooking by Susan Spicer. She writes, you shouldn't "overlook a spicy sausage filling."
Austin Leslie is known in New Orleans as the "Godfather of Fried Chicken." He died tragically in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his legacy lives on through his signature dish, Fried Chicken with New Orleans Confetti. Adapted from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, it's easy to see why Austin's chicken is the gold standard of New Orleans chicken. It includes the unlikely addition of evaporated milk, which adds a bit of sweetness and an incredible crunch once fried.
I like to think of the muffaletta as a distant relative of the Italian sub. They both layer on the various meats and cheese—ham, capicola, salami, mortadella, provolone—and rely on something piquant and lively to stand up to all that meat, whether that's hot peppers in an Italian or the famed olive spread of the muffaletta.
It's such a simple sandwich, yet when you sit down with one of these, it's hard to imagine anything tasting better. The oysters are tossed in a flour and cornmeal mixture, then fried for just under a minute so the crust is crackly and golden brown, yet the oysters are still gushing with juice. The bread is important. It needs to be soft, but still have a nice crackly texture. Then it's just iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise.
In honor of St. Joseph's Day, a feast day for the patron saint of cabinetmakers, engineers, Canada, and confectioners (which is where the sweets come in), try this recipe for St. Joseph's fig cookies. They're like a better, homemade version of Fig Newtons. The figginess is much less cloying and sticky and gets combined with a nice mix of sherry, orange, lemon, raisins, and walnuts.
In this recipe for Trout Amandine, trout fillets are dredged in flour, pan fried in browned butter, and finished with parsley, lemon juice, and toasted almonds.
My New Orleans by John Besh includes no fewer than five recipes for gumbo, which isn't really all that shocking considering gumbo is the epitome of Louisiana cooking. This Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo starts with a roux made up of equal parts fat and flour that gets slowly cooked until the mix changes from a light tan to a deep, rich brown.
When I first visited New Orleans several years ago, I was a strict vegetarian. That meant I missed out on almost all the city's iconic culinary offerings—gumbo, po'boys, even red beans and rice. But not beignets. Light, sweet, and incredibly messy from the heavy dusting of powdered sugar they were finished with, they were entirely memorable. With the help of John Besh's beignet recipe, I stroll down memory lane.