Holidays

SEAFOOD GUMBO

Serving: 10

By: Chef John Besh

I’m a seafood gumbo snob! I look for two things: the first is a deep shellfish flavor, which I accomplish by allowing quartered crabs to cook for at least 45 minutes before I even think of adding any other seafood. Second, I’m looking for the seafood—shrimp, crabmeat, and oysters—to be perfectly tender (not overcooked) precisely as the gumbo is served. So plan ahead, and add the seafood accordingly.

For the Gumbo:
1 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
6 jumbo blue crabs, each cut into 4 pieces
1 pound spicy smoked sausage links, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh okra, sliced
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
3 quarts Basic Shellfish Stock
2 bay leaves
1 pound medium Louisiana or wild American shrimp
1 cup shucked oysters
1 cup lump crabmeat
1 cup minced green onions
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Basic Creole Spices
Worcestershire
Tabasco
4–6 cups Basic Louisiana White Rice, cooked

Basic Creole Spices:
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Basic Shellfish Stock:
1/4 cup canola oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 leek, white part, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound shrimp shells
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Basic Louisiana White Rice:
1 tablespoon chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
1 small onion, minced
1 ½ cups Louisiana long-grain white rice
3 cups Basic Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt

FOR THE GUMBO
Make a roux by heating the oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue whisking until the roux takes on a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the roux is a rich, dark brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the blue crabs and smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, garlic, and okra. Increase the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, Shellfish Stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off any fat from the surface of the gumbo.

Add the shrimp, oysters, crabmeat, and green onions to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, Creole Spices, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Serve in bowls over rice.

BASIC CREOLE SPICES
Makes ½ cup

Using this spice blend is truly the easiest way to consistently achieve the flavors I grew up with. Once combined, the spices will last for six months in an airtight container.

BASIC SHRIMP STOCK
Makes 6 cups

Heat the canola oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Cook the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and garlic, stirring often, until they are soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. 

Add the shrimp shells, the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and 3 quarts water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, until the stock has reduced by half, about 2 hours. 

Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a cover. Allow the stock to cool, cover and refrigerate, then skim off the fat. Freeze the stock in small batches to use later.

BASIC LOUISIANA WHITE RICE
Makes about 4 Cups

The recipe will work with most long-grain rices, including Popcorn Rice. Save some of the fat skimmed from your chicken stock to perfume the rice with many wonderful flavors.

Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and salt.

Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

 

MALLARD DUCK BREAST WITH PEPPERS AND BACON

SERVING: 4-6
By: Chef John Besh

We use this recipe with many meats, such as squab or venison. Be sure not to cook the duck beyond medium rare; it tends to be dry. Don’t cook the duck skewers in advance; have them ready for the grill, and cook when you’re about to serve.

From "My New Orleans: The Cookbook," by John Besh / Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC

1/4 cup sugarcane vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 shallots, minced
3/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons pecan oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 whole boneless, skinless mallard or Pekin duck breasts, sliced across the breast into strips about 1/2 inch thick
6–9 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut in half crosswise
3 pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced lengthwise
12 6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water

Whisk the vinegar, sugar, and shallots together in a large bowl; gradually add the oils, whisking constantly. Season the marinade with salt and pepper. Add the strips of duck to the bowl and marinate for 30 minutes.

Lay a piece of bacon out on a work surface. Place a strip of duck on top of (and perpendicular to) the bacon and a piece of jalapeño on top of the duck. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap the bacon around the duck and jalapeño and slide a wooden skewer through to secure the roll. Repeat the process with the remaining bacon, duck, and jalapeños, seasoning each with salt and pepper. Discard the marinade.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Meanwhile, wrap the ends of the skewers with aluminum foil to protect them from burning while on the grill.

Grill the duck skewers until the bacon crisps and has rendered its fat, and the duck is medium, 5–7 minutes.

 

SALAD OF GRILLED BOBWHITE QUAIL AND CHANTERELLES

Serving: 6
By: Chef John Besh

"Be careful not to overcook the mushrooms; just heating them up will soften them considerably. Then toss them in the sherry vinaigrette. Use whatever wild mushrooms you can find, but nothing beats the woodsy, peppery aroma of dainty chanterelles."

From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh / Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC6

Semi-boneless bobwhite quail
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Basic Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette (see below)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups small chanterelle mushrooms
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 handful chives, minced
2 cups bitter greens or other tiny lettuce leaves

For the Basic Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal chile paste
1-1/2 cups canola oil
Salt

For the Quail:
Season the quail with salt and pepper and brush on all sides with the Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette. Let marinate for 20 minutes or so. Light a charcoal or gas grill. When the coals have burned down to a moderate heat, grill the quail on both sides until brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium pan over moderate heat. Cook the shallots and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chanterelles and cook for about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer the chanterelles to a mixing bowl.

Add the sherry vinegar, the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, hazelnut oil, sugar, thyme, and chives to the bowl; toss together until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the chanterelles from the bowl and divide equally between 6 salad plates. Place 1 grilled quail on each plate.

Add the greens to the same mixing bowl and toss to coat in the sherry vinaigrette remaining in the bowl. Divide the greens between the plates.

For the Vinaigrette:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.