© Quentin Bacon
It has been so long since I started writing up this recipe from my brother’s engagement party that he is now married. Inexcusable, no?
Well I’m not sorry! With the warm weather and the actual paying writing jobs, something had to give, and this was it. (I actually am sorry, though. This recipe nonsense is considerably easier and more fun to write about than FAA grants, and this audience is loyal as hell, so please forgive me.)
Anyway, we – and by “we” I mean “The Chef” – made a huge batch of this recipe for a St. Patrick’s Day engagement party and served it up in shot glasses. In my world, Soup + Shots + Bacon = Phenom. Seriously – peas are usually beyond lame, but the toppings on this make it delectable.
This is actually Daniel Boulud‘s super schmancy pea soup recipe, but it has been classed-down by Food & Wine for an easier preparation. It’s served cold so it’s a cinch for a party. Make a bunch and sip all summer.
8 slices of bacon
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock
2 rosemary sprigs
salt & freshly ground white pepper
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
2 10-oz boxes frozen baby peas
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, minced
- In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate; reserve the fat in a bowl in case you need to add it at the end for more bacon flavor.
- In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
- Discard the bacon and rosemary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the sugar snaps and cook for 3 minutes. Add the frozen baby peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain.
- Add the sugar snaps, baby peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture.
- Transfer the soup and the remaining broth to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool.
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, garlic and remaining rosemary sprig to a boil. Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.
- Ladle the chilled pea soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream. (Use a squirt bottle to make pretty designs out of the cream. It’s absurdly cheffy, but so freaking fun.) Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl and serve.
To round out the Akin Family Christmas trilogy, we now have the quintessentially Southern giblet gravy. I know words like “gizzard” and “turkey neck” turn some people off, but for real Southerners, they just mean flavor.
This is my Aunt Sylvia’s gravy recipe, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to turkey or oyster dressing. And it’s actually pretty darn good over everything, but people look at you funny if you cover your whole plate in it, so consider yourself warned.
turkey neck, liver, and gizzard
1 boiled egg, chopped
1 large spoonful of dressing
- Boil turkey neck, liver and gizzard in chicken stock. Chop.
- Add one large spoonful of dressing and the egg and stir until mixed.
- Thicken with cornstarch to desired consistency.
With the colder weather finally creeping in down here, I have really been into hearty warming meals. Lentils are my latest thing. I have cooked them a lot of different ways, but this one is definitely the best. It needs a bit more attention then just simmering in liquid because this recipe cooks it risotto style. The outcome is amazing, and you won’t even notice that it is extremely heathy too! I served these along a rack of lamb (cooked with same herbs), and it was the perfect combination. Sorry the picture shows the lamb more then the lentils. – ts
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 cup Beluga lentils (or French green lentils)
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
Sea salt and pepper
1 full sprig fresh rosemary
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
- In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil for one minute over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, and sauté the vegetables until they are softened, 10 minutes.
- Add the lentils, sliced garlic, rosemary and bay leaf and sauté for 3-5 minutes more, coating all the lentils. Increase the heat and add the red wine. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring, until the mixture becomes dry.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the chicken stock to a simmer, then turn off the heat and cover to keep warm. Add the warm chicken stock to the lentils (like cooking a risotto) 1/2 a cup at a time, letting the lentils absorb the liquid with each addition. Repeat, stirring the mixture constantly. After 30 minutes or so the lentils should be slightly chewy and tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
So I probably should have posted these recipes last week before Thanksgiving, but I forgot and I wanted to test them out twice to get all kinks out of the way. I was lucky to have two Thanksgivings this year, a “friendsgiving” down in NOLA (which was way better then my family Thanksgiving) and family Thanksgiving. I still never want to eat again. Below is an amazing crawfish stuffing that Chef John’s family has requested a double batch of for next year. Perhaps you can save in your Thanksgiving recipe file for next year or break it out for the December holidays! Chef’s note: make sure to use dry corn bread so it soaks up all the sauce. – ts
Chef John Says: Everyone knows that the best part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. I usually dedicate about 3/4 of my plate to it. My family always has a traditional stuffing/dressing but this past Sunday we had a pre-Thanksgiving feast at our friend’s house in New Orleans and it was decided that we should make a more NOLA-style dressing. Tanya came across this beauty: Besh’s Crawfish Corn Bread Dressing. Like ALL of Besh’s recipes, this is very easy and delicious.
You can make the corn bread ahead or use leftover corn bread. In fact, the dressing may be prepared a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until an hour before serving. I used more andouille, hot sausage, and garlic than it calls for… obviously. This recipe makes 8–10 cups, more than enough to stuff a turkey, but at our Thanksgiving we stuff our bird separately and serve dressings like this alongside. Serves 10
4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (I used a couple tablespoons of butter instead)
¼ pound andouille sausage, diced
¼ pound hot pork sausage meat, removed from casing
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups peeled crawfish tails, chopped (you can usually find a package of frozen tails)
2 green onions, chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
2 tablespoons Basic Creole Spices
6 cups crumbled Basic Corn Bread
2 cups Basic Chicken Stock
½ cup heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the bacon fat, andouille, and pork sausage into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the pork with the back of a wooden spoon.
- When the pork sausage meat has browned, add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the sausage and crawfish and stir together until well combined. Spoon the dressing into a large heatproof dish.
- At this point, the dressing may be covered and refrigerated (for up to 1 day) until you are ready to bake it. Bake the dressing in a preheated 350° oven until it is piping hot and golden brown, 15–30 minutes.
We cooked this on one of our last dinner parties at our apartment in NYC. It was amazing. We made a huge pot of it, and I am pretty sure there were no leftovers. People were stuffing their face and going for third helpings. Chef John and I love “My New Orleans” cookbook. Other then the obvious fact that his recipe’s are amazing, I also love this cookbook because John Besh describes the cooking process and why it is important to do certain things while you are cooking. -ts
Chef John says: If you don’t have John Besh’s book, “My New Orleans,” than you need to have your head examined, go buy it. In my opinion, he’s easily one of the most talented and innovative chefs out there and best of all he likes to use pork… a lot. I’m trying to eat my way through his book at the moment but wanted to share with you his Jambalaya recipe. Prior to this, I’ve never tried to make it on my own and I was really surprised by how easy it was. This is one of my favorite comfort foods and provides a great base for a long night out.
2 pounds bacon, diced
3 pounds andouille sausage, diced
1/2 cup lard (OPTIONAL- we did not use bc there is enough pork fat)
2 pounds fresh pork sausage, removed from casings
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, roughly cut into 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
6 large onions, diced
4 bell peppers, seeded and diced
10 stalks celery, diced
12 cloves garlic, minced
9 cups converted Louisiana white rice
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
3 tablespoons pimention de la Vera or smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon celery salt
6 cups canned crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
5 pounds Louisiana white shrimp or other wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 bunches green onions, chopped
- First, you’ll need to heat a very large pot 3-5 gallons) over high heat until it is hot, then reduce the heat to moderate. This will allow the heat to be uniform all over, preventing those little hot spots that are likely to burn.
- Render the bacon with the sausages and the lard in the hot pot, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon or a spade. While the pork is rendering, go ahead and season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot, stirring, and cook until the chicken becomes golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- After the chicken as browned, add the onions to the pot and all them to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers, celery, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Continue stirring from time to time so that everything in the pot cooks evenly.
- Next add the rice, thyme, bay leaves, pimention, cayenne, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoons black pepper, and the celery salt to the pot and cook, stirring often for 3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes and chicken stock to the pot, Bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat do medium low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking in the covered pot, season the shrimp with salt and pepper and save them, along with the green onions, to be added at the last minutes.
- After the rice as simmered for 15 minutes, go ahead and remove the lid from the pot and fold int he shrimp and green onions. Turn off the heat and let everything continue to to cook in the hot covered pot for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the jambalaya and serve.
I have been neglecting m’boy Wikipedia for a while now, and that stops here. The ‘pedia tells me that “picatta” just means “to be pounded flat” in Italian. And I like that.
Not only because these little suckers will fry up right nice because they are flat and even all over but also because you get to use that tiny little mallet to work out some of your aggression. That little hammer is somehow adorable and violent all at once, and I always imagine a furious little Leprechaun-lumberjack using it. And that clearly makes me happy.
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 oz of olive oil
2 teaspoons shallots, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 oz white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tsp of chopped parsley
2 tbsp capers
1 oz of lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
- Lightly pound chicken breast and then dredge in seasoned flour.
- Heat the oil in a saute pan. Cook the chicken until golden brown.
- Remove from pan, add shallots and garlic and cook until translucent.
- De-glaze pan with wine. Add chicken stock, parsley, capers, and lemon juice.
- Let it reduce for 2 minutes and then finish the sauce with butter. Salt and pepper it to taste and serve with your favorite pasta.