Laissez Les BonsTemps Rouler, the motto of the Big Easy.
The Big Easy, New Orleans. Along with Cajun and Creole cuisine, Beignets at Cafe du Monde, Zeydecko music, Mardi Gras, Swamps and Bayous, this is New Orleans.
I received a new cook book. A gift from a dear friend, who hails from Louisiana, or to be precise New Orleans ( and I do wish that UK TV and Radio presenters would pronounce it correctly. It is not Or – Leans but New Or-LONS). Anyway putting pronunciation to one side, for those of you who do not know, New Orleans prides itself on its gastronomy.
Foods from the area have been immortalised in the Hank Williams song, ” Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Filé Gumbo. I have several cook books from this region, all thanks to Phyllis and so it was with interest that I scoured this one for some new ideas. And what did I find? A new recipe for Calves Liver, and as himself had been asking for it, I made it my mission to source some, and I did!
New Orleans has become, a melting pot of cultures. It is a wonder that the city survived and grew, it is below sea level and surrounded by bayous and swamps. There was a huge influx of migrant workers, from Canada ( French speaking, Cajuns ) Spain, it had been a Spanish colony, and from all over Europe, Germans included, the Caribbean, as far afield as the Philippines, and of course the African slaves
Many of the famous New Orleans restaurants serve more traditional food, that is what the locals like and that is what the tourists want to try! Food that is rich and heavy, laden with carbs and calories, but oh so yummy! ( my favourite is BBQ shrimp! Not what you think, giant shrimp baked in the oven with BUTTER, garlic and lashings of black pepper! Oh So Bad, but OH so Good!) Traditional recipes might include such things as, Alligator, Opossum, Turkey, Dove, Quail, Frogs, Squirrels, Rabbit, Snake, Venison ( home slaughtered) Turtle, Salt Pork, Wild Boar, Catfish, Oysters, Crab, Shrimp and Crawfish ( mudbugs). Not forgetting also the vegetables, celery, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, okra, rice and corn.
Among the famous restaurants to be found in New Orleans, are Antoines (1840), where they created Oysters Rockefeller, and Eggs Sardou, Tujagues (1856), Café du Monde (1862) ,Commanders Place (1893), Madam Begue (1894) now incorporated into Tujagues, Galatoires (1905) and Broussard’s (1920)
Onto Liver and Bacon, I had to try this recipe, which is to be found in the Tujagues cookbook, by way of Madame Begue. She served it for breakfast to the dockers and port workers and to this day Tujagues serves it for Brunch. The recipe calls for it to be served on Grits, almost not available in the UK, even Whole Foods did not stock it, ( to my mind, not missed, but if you are from the Deep South, then it must be grits!) What are grits, I hear you ask! Well just watch the movie “My Cousin Vinnie” and it will give you a clue!
Due to the lack of grits, I served it on Pasta. Not sure He really appreciated the effort, and I think I will stick to my usual, simple quick fry of thinly sliced calves liver.
However, if you are in the mind to try this traditional New Orleans way of cooking, here goes!
You will need
1Kilo Calves liver sliced ( not too thin)
2 Large Onions sliced
Flour for dusting
400 Grams streaky bacon or lardons
1 Cup stock
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy frying pan, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove, drain and allow to cool. Chop bacon. Season liver using salt and pepper. Dust liver in flour. Pan-fry liver in the bacon fat until golden brown on each side, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add onions to the pan, sauté over medium heat. Until caramelized. Add the bacon and liver ,pour in stock, bring to a boil, and cook until heated through, serve over a bed of Grits ( if you can find them !)