Holiday Dinner à la New Orleans
By Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Christmas in New Orleans is much like celebrations of any kind in the Big Easy—scrumptious food is front and center! The unique southern city is brimming with celebrity chefs, so we decided to research what they like to serve their own families and guests for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.
Some of the recipes we’ve chosen are traditional holiday dishes, but some were just so enticing, that we couldn’t resist including them. All would be wonderful at any time of the year.
SHRIMP AND CRAB GUMBO
GUMBO, a traditional dish, is so versatile that it can be used as a soup course for a formal meal, or a main course for any occasion. Every New Orleans chef has his or her own version, and here we present an offering from chef/owner Donald Link of Herbsaint.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 gallon plus 2 cups clam juice
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 8 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 pound okra, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1 tablespoon chile powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 tablespoons file powder (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Shelled and deveined shrimp (from the stock)
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
- Steamed rice, sliced scallions and Tabasco, for serving
MAKE THE STOCK: In a stockpot, heat the oil. Add the shrimp shells and cook over high heat, until starting to brown, 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it begins to stick to the pot, 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for 25 minutes. Strain the stock into a heatproof bowl.
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE ROUX: In a saucepan, whisk the flour with the oil to make a paste. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the roux turns golden brown, 30 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and cook, stirring, until the roux is dark brown, 10 minutes longer. Scrape the roux into a bowl and reserve.
MAKE THE GUMBO: In the stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic, onion, and celery; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add the roux and cook until bubbling. Stir in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until no floury taste remains; skim off the fat.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the green pepper, okra, chile powder, paprika, file, oregano, thyme, cayenne and white pepper. Season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant, 5 minutes. Stir in a ladleful of the liquid in the stockpot, scrape up the browned bits and transfer to the gumbo in the pot. Simmer, stirring, for 1 hour.
Add the shrimp to the pot and cook, until just white throughout, 2 minutes. Stir in the crab; season with salt.
File powder is made from ground, dried sassafras leaves. It is available from www.cajungrocer.com
SHRIMP REMOULADE from Chef John Besh, owner of August, Besh Steak, Luke, Domenica, Johnny Sanchez, and Borgne. A typical New Orleans salad course or a light lunch with crusty French bread. This recipe is an excellent choice for entertaining because it is almost entirely prepared ahead.
Boiled Shrimp Ingredients
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup sweet paprika
- 1 tsp each cayenne and garlic powder
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 Tbsp each whole black peppercorns and ground coriander
- 24 jumbo shrimp, unpeeled
Method for the Shrimp
- To a large pot over high heat, add the onion, garlic, lemon juice and the remaining herbs and spices. Add 1 gallon cold water and bring to a boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Take the pot off the stove and let the shrimp finish cooking off the heat until they are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
- Drain the shrimp and plunge them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When they are cool, drain and reserve, covered in the refrigerator.
- About two hours before serving, peel and devein the shrimp.
Remoulade Sauce Ingredients
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp each: fresh lemon juice and hot sauce
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- ¼ tsp each: cayenne and garlic powder
- 6 cups baby arugula, mâche, or other greens
- In a large bowl, stir together all of the remoulade ingredients except the arugula and set aside.
Shrimp Remoulade Assembly
- 1-2 hours before serving, toss the shrimp with the remoulade sauce. Let the shrimp marinate, covered and refrigerated.
- Serve the shrimp over the greens.
PORK LOIN WITH DRIED FRUIT AND ORANGE CIDER SAUCE
Chef Emeril Lagasse of Emeril’s New Orleans, Emeril’s Delmonico and NOLA serves his guests this simple but impressive pork loin with a silky sauce and plumped dried fruit. It works well as a holiday meal or as a family weeknight dinner.
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- One 3-pound boneless pork loin roast, trimmed and tied
- 8 cloves garlic, smashed lightly and peeled
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups 1⁄4-inch sliced red onion
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 3⁄4 cup dried apricots
- 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
- 1⁄2 cup dried cherries
- 1⁄4 cup golden raisins
- 1⁄4 cup dried currants
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- Mashed sweet potatoes, for serving
- Combine the paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons of the kosher salt in a small bowl and stir together to mix well. Set aside.
- With a small knife, make twelve 1 1⁄2-inch-deep, evenly spaced slits around the outside of the pork loin. Cut 6 of the garlic cloves in half lengthwise and insert 1⁄2 clove into each slit. Rub the pork on all sides with the seasoning mixture.
- In a 12-inch sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pork loin and cook each side until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the crock of a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Add the remaining 2 smashed garlic cloves, the onion, and thyme to the same pan and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- Surround the pork with the dried fruit. Top with the onion, then add the remaining teaspoon salt, the orange juice, and vinegar. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°F, 2 1⁄2 to 2 3 ⁄4 hours.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker, transfer to a cutting board, and tent with foil to keep warm. Let the pork rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
- Gently stir the butter into the hot sauce. Remove the twine from the roast and slice the pork. Arrange on a serving platter and top with the sauce and plumped fruit.
BACON AND LEEK SOUFFLÉ
Another offering by Chef Emeril, a Bacon and Leek Soufflé, could be used as a side dish with a simple roasted meat or it could stand on its own as a main dish for lunch or dinner, served with a salad and crusty French bread.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup leeks, white parts only, washed, chopped (about 1 large leek)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup hot milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- 5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 6 ounces bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Butter a 6-cup soufflé or straight sided baking dish with 1 tablespon of the butter. Dust the interior of the dish with the Parmesan and knock out the excess.
In a medium-size sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoons of butter over low heat, and gently cook the leeks until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool when done.
- To prepare the soufflé base, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium-size sauce pan. Stir in the flour using a wooden spoon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to foam. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the hot milk. Simmer the mixture over medium heat until it becomes thick, about 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the salt, cayenne, and nutmeg; slowly add the egg yolks one by one. Set aside.
In a stainless steel or copper bowl, slowly begin to whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer on medium low speed. Once the egg whites are frothy, add the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt and increase the speed of the mixer to medium and then to medium high. Beat the whites until stiff and they form shiny peaks being careful not to overbeat them.
Add the leeks, half of the Gruyere and the bacon to the soufflé base along with 1/4 of the egg whites and mix well. Delicately fold the remaining whites along with the remaining cheese into the base, being careful not to overmix. It is fine to have some unblended whites.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish and set in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375º F. Bake until the soufflé has puffed and is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
POACHED PEAR AND BROWN BUTTER TART
Chef John Besh loves using winter fruits in desserts and salads. This Poached Pear and Brown Butter Tart is one of his favorites, and it’s the perfect finish to a holiday dinner.
- Vegetable oil spray, such as canola
- 13/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
- 1 large egg yolk mixed with 4 tablespoons of ice water
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups semidry white wine, such as Riesling
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 sage leaf
- 4 whole cloves
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 4 Bosc pears—peeled, quartered and cored
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar and salt and pulse once or twice until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Lift the lid and sprinkle with the egg- yolk mixture. Pulse 5 or 6 times, until the dough is crumbly.
- Pour the dough into the prepared tart pan and press to form an even crust. Use a flat-bottomed glass dipped in flour to tamp it down. Bake the crust in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until it is golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
- In a large saucepan, combine the water with the wine, sugar, sage, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the quartered pears. Cover with a large sheet of parchment paper and a lid slightly smaller than the saucepan and cook over moderate heat until the pears are just softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached pears to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool slightly. Cut each wedge in half lengthwise.
- In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes; pour browned butter into a small cup. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla seeds, orange zest and salt. Add the flour and beat at low speed until smooth. Add the brown butter and beat the filling at low speed until incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the baked crust. Arrange all but 3 of the pear wedges on the custard in a slightly overlapping circle, with the narrow ends pointing toward the center. Trim the remaining 3 pear wedges and arrange them neatly in the center. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard is golden and set. Let the pear tart cool completely before serving.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The finished pear tart can be stored in an airtight container overnight at room temperature.
We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, filled with friends, family and memorable, delicious banquets. Bon appétit!
Streetcar photo in New Orleans is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.nola.com
All other photos were pulled from www.pinterest.com