Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Orleans Menu: Gumbo, Shrimp Po-Boys, and Bananas Foster

I used to live in New Orleans, and it has inspired my love of food and cooking ever since. In New Orleans food is more than nourishment, it's family, life, passion. I love the Creole/Cajun style that centers on bold flavors and interesting ingredients. I recently hosted a dinner party featuring some of my favorite New Orleans foods- gumbo, po-boys, and bananas foster. The gumbo was bursting with flavor from the andouille sausage, chicken thighs, a ton of veggies, and Cajun seasoning. It's an unusual and unforgettable flavor that took me back to the Bayou. In this new rendition of shrimp po-boys I deep fried the shrimp, which became crunchy morsels coated in Cajun spice. It's truly my favorite sandwich! Bananas foster is the perfect end to this meal- hot, syrupy bananas soaked in a rum caramel sauce on top of vanilla ice cream. Throw on some jazz, pour a strong drink, and enjoy this New Orleans menu!

Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo
A hearty and flavorful New Orleans Stew.
Serves 8

1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" rounds
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale parts separated from dark)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups 1/2”-thick slices fresh (or frozen, thawed) okra, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (preferably Crystal)
Steamed Rice, for serving

Combine 1 Tbsp. salt and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle all over chicken. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Working in batches, sear chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. (Once cooled down, shred chicken with two forks.) Add sausage to pot; cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate with chicken.

Strain drippings from pot through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve 1 cup drippings, adding more oil if needed to measure 1 cup. Wipe pot clean; return drippings to pot.

Heat drippings over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Whisk constantly until roux is the color of milk chocolate, 15–20 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in white and pale-green parts of scallions and next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Slowly whisk in broth. Add bay leaves, thyme, and reserved shredded chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer gently, skimming fat from surface and stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup okra, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Simmer until chicken is very tender and flavors meld, about 45 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 cup okra; simmer until okra is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt.

Serve gumbo over rice. Garnish with dark-green parts of scallions.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Shrimp Po-Boys
The perfect sandwich- hot crispy shrimp with cool creamy mayo.
Serves 6

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 French bread loaves, each cut into 3 sandwiches
1/2 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste
2 cup shredded lettuce
2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
Sliced dill pickles
Crystal hot sauce, for serving
Potato chips, for serving, optional (recommended: Zapp's)

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or preheat a deep fryer to 360 degrees F. Season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the Essence, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour and cornmeal and season with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne.

Dredge the shrimp in the seasoned flour mixture, coating the shrimp completely. Fry the shrimp in the hot oil, in batches if necessary, until golden brown, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season with salt and hot sauce.

Split the French bread loaves in half and brush both cut sides of the bread with some of the melted butter. Using a spatula, spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread, then sprinkle with hot sauce. Divide the shrimp evenly between the 2 sandwiches and garnish with the lettuce, tomato slices, sliced pickles and hot sauce, if desired. Serve with potato chips.

Recipe adapted from Emeril

Bananas Foster
A classic New Orleans dessert, rum-soaked bananas and ice cream.
Serves 6

 4 ripe bananas, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup dark rum
1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream

Cut the bananas in half across and then lengthwise.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and turning, cook on both sides until the bananas start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth to warm the rum and flame the pan. (Or, off the heat, carefully ignite the pan with a match and return to the heat.) Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas, until the flame dies.

Divide the ice cream among 4 dessert plates. Gently lift the bananas from the pan and place 4 pieces on each scoop of ice cream. Spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Emeril


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