18 June 2013

Creole Feast


I loved in New Orleans for a year and gained 40 pounds!   I am holding this guy personally responsible.  He and a host of others who made literally EVERYTHING on the plate great.  Recently, Saveur compiled a list of great New Orleans cookbooks and Creole Feast made their list.  

The book was published in the late 1970's and featured some of the most iconic chefs and restaurants of the day.  Some, like Leah Chase from Dookey Chase are still cooking.  Some restaurants, like Corinne Dunbar's are long since closed.  Flipping through the photos, one finds that all the featured master chefs are African-American.   Nathanial Burton lists one of the attributes of Creole cooking as, "The Black hand in the pot." 

There have been many Creole cookbooks written and many of them translate into an overdone "chefyness" of long lists of hard to find ingredients.  This may come from a profound lack of authenticity in the cook.  Recently, Leah Chase was on television showing a classically trained chef how to make Gumbo z'Herbes.   She was throwing ingredients into the pot and he stopped and asked her an exact amount and she just laughed.

I was pleasantly surprised at how simple most of the recipes are in Creole Feast.  This may indeed be because each of these chefs know exactly how make the dish with the careful finesse that the general public just might not have.  

Speaking of Leah Chase, here is a recipe for one of my most favorite things, crawfish étouffée.  As much as I cook, I never make crawfish étouffée because the recipes seem way to complicated.  But his one seems right up my alley.

Crawfish Étouffée

1 cup butter
5 cups crawfish tails, cleaned
1 tablespoon fat from head of crawfish
Salt and pepper to taste
Water as necessary

Melt butter in a saucepan and add crawfish. Let cook until all the juices have evaporated.  Add fat from crawfish heads.  Add the salt and pepper and just enough water to make a thick but soupy mixture.  Cook slowly for half an hour.  Serve over steamed rice.

We can make that! 

Creole Feast has gotten to be a rather pricey book these days, so I you find a reasonably cheap copy, grab it.

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