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.
Chef John says: Shortly before leaving NYC, I was introduced to a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant called Balaboosta. If you are in NYC you should definitely go, there isn’t a bad item on the menu. A must-order from here was the Brick Chicken. I don’t really get how the whole brick thing works and I don’t really care, all I know is it’s delicious. The skin is super crispy, the meat is juicy and that’s what matters the most. I recently came across a recipe so I decided to give it a shot.I found the marinade to be very flavorful but switch it up to your tastes. Just be sure to use the brick.It’s allllllllll in the brick.
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped, plus additional sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
One 4-pound whole grass-fed chicken, butterflied
- Combine the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, crushed red pepper and salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Rub two-thirds of the marinade all over the chicken and under the skin.
- Prepare your grill for direct medium-low heat or heat a cast-iron pan over a medium-low flame. Place the chicken on the grill or pan skin side down. Place a foil-wrapped brick or a heavy cast-iron skillet on top of the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the brick and turn the chicken over. Place the brick on the chicken again and continue to grill until the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
- Transfer the chicken to a platter and drizzle with the remaining marinade.
This is a favorite go to dinner Chef John and I like to make. I normally serve with roasted potatoes, fennel, and onion and a side salad. It is a Michael Ruhlman recipe. – ts
Chef John says: If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a big fan of all things pork. When I’m having a hard time thinking of something to make, I’ll turn to this recipe. It’s really quick and easy, probably takes about 15 min total to prepare the marinade. Also, I find it to be more rewarding to create your own marinade rather than just pouring something out of the bottle (which I have no problem doing). I’d let this marinate for at least a few hours but letting it go over night is even better.
1 pork tenderloin
salt to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
zest from two lemons
3 cloves garlic, smashed with a knife
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked coriander
2 tablespoons brown sugar
a bunch of fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine
- Season the pork with plenty of kosher or sea salt.
- In a small pan combine the oil, zest, garlic, shallot, pepper, coriander, brown sugar, and 7 or 8 stems of thyme and cook it over medium high heat until the garlic and shallots are bubbling. Add the wine, bring the oil back up to heat for a few minutes, then remove the pan from the heat (it should cook for about 10 minutes in all) and allow it to cool till it’s not hot to the touch.
- Pour it over the pork, add several more stems of fresh thyme, and let it marinate a half hour (or for up to three days, refrigerated, if you’re making this ahead).
- Prepare a hot grill and cook the pork, removing the thyme stems, but keep as much of the aromats as will adhere to the pork, to medium rare.
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.
Recently I got the amazing opportunity to be a food critic for a night. A good friend invited me to go check out Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn and give comments on it for an article she is writing for an undisclosed NY publication (link will be sent when its published). Chef John joined as well and it was a major treat. Pretty much I was approached with, Hey Tanya you like food and gossip, want a free meal where we can taste everything on the menu and talk about it? SOLD! End result, one of the best meals I have had in a while in New York. It is known for its pizza, but honestly while tasty, it was my least favorite item on the menu. The space was great, and it has a cute outdoor area. The menu is seasonal, and they grow some of their produce right outside in their garden.
As mentioned previously we ordered almost everything on the menu, so I will only mention the highlights. The veal sweetbreads were lightly fried and practically melted in your mouth. They were unbelievable and hands down the best sweetbreads I have ever had. I could have had like 2 more orders of them. My second favorite item we ate was snap pea salad. They were mixed with mascarpone puree, pickle ramps, and black garlic sauce. It is ramp season, so they were highlighted on most of the menu items and were great. The homemade trofie pasta with oxtail and greens was surprisingly light and very tasty. The duck egg poached with aged Shelburne cheese and maitake mushroom was amazing and all components went perfectly together. We also had soft-shell crab lightly battered and fried with spring onion and mint and skirt steak with salsa verde and market greens both incredible.
The meal then ended with this NummyNumNum writer’s photo in the NY Times! This was completely by accident and unrelated to my Roberta’s meal. It just happened to be that I was browsing a vintage truck while waiting for my car after Roberta’s. Luckily it was a side profile and no name shot. Considering I had just eaten about 15 lbs of food and multiple bottles of wine, that night was not the dream night for my NY Times debut. However, it is a great way to say bye to this amazing city because I am moving to NOLA tomorrow! – ts
I am a huge fan of yellow/mayo-y/creamy southern style potato salad. My all time favorite used to be the kind that WP gets from the grocery in Horseshoe, but all that changed after eating Chef John’s mom’s potato salad. This recipe lives up to its name. I don’t know if I can make potato salad any other way now. Feel free to go wild and add cheese or jalapenos. -ts
Chef John says: I love sides. Personally, I think they’re the best part of the meal, especially if we be talkin BBQ. Nothing is better than getting a side that is so damn good that you completely forget about everything else on the plate. My Mama made this for a big dinner several years ago and every time she cooks I beg and plead for her to make it. I’ve had the pleasure of eating this many times but every time I take that first bite I let out some sort of animalistic noise and my eyes rollback in my head… I can’t help it. If you want a simple description, imagine a fully loaded baked potato disguising itself as potato salad.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds small red potatoes, diced
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 to 10 cooked crisp bacon slices, crumbled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3/4 cup prepared Ranch dressing
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place oil in a 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan; add potatoes and the next 4 ingredients, tossing to coat. Arrange potato mixture in a single layer.
- Bake at 425° for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Toss together potatoes, bacon, green onions, and dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.
*If you like your potatoes crispier, bake about 10 minutes longer, stirring once.
Après ski week, drinks edition…I can attest to the beauty of this drink after a long day of skiing or maybe just in your apartment on a Sunday afternoon. I may or may not be on my 5th one right now. The attached photo is legit in front of Chef John’s ski house. His family loves this drink and so will you. -ts
Chef John says: I know it looks like a boat drink but somehow my family has been able to convert it into an après ski drank. We love our booze and will stop at nothing to make every drink appropriate for every occasion, especially drinks this good. The drink’s origins are authentic boat drink, being crafted by my dad down in the Virgin Islands roughly ten years ago. However, these days we pour these little guys with a heavy hand after a hard day of skiing. Proceed with caution though, the guava masks the rum almost a little too well. Let’s get weird.
Kern’s Nectar Guava Juice
Mount Gay Rum
(I highly suggest using these brands as I’ve mixed and matched a lot and found these to be the best combo)
- Fill tall glass with ice to the top. Mix equal parts guava juice and rum into tall glass of ice. Leave about one inch of room at top to add a floater of rum for a little extra kick.