On “Today’s” kitchen, we’re cooking up Christmas, New Orleans style. Throughout the whole month of December the French Quarter gears up for their annual traditional Christmas celebration. Visitors can taste traditional Creole reveillon recipes at a variety of restaurants, watch historical characters greet visitors along French Quarter streets, and listen to jazz and gospel concerts at the historic St. Louis Cathedral. One restaurant that’s always included in the celebration is restaurant August, and executive chef John Besh shares us some of his favorite creole reveillon dishes. Check them out below.
PAN ROAST LOUISIANA BLACKFISH OVER CELERY, CRAB AND PRESERVED MEYER LEMON
For the crab demiglace:
5 pounds crab, rinsed and crushed
2 ea onion, carrot and celery, large dice
1/2 c tomato paste
1/2 c 1/2 c olive oil
3/4 c flour
1.5 l red wine
1 c port
1 g water
1 bay leaf
10 whole black peppercorns
10 spring tarragon
In a rondo, heat 1/2 c oil until smoking and toast crabs hard until bright red. Add vegetables and caramelize, and tomato paste and caramelize with remaining oil. Sprinkle the flour and stir in well; deglaze with liquids and add spices and herbs. Simmer 1 1/2 hours, strain several times, and reduce almost to a glaze, straining several times more. Hold covered and warm for serving.
For the celery root puree:
1 pounds celery root, large dice
8 ounces Yukon gold potato, large dice
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, sliced very thin
5 sprigs fresh thyme
Combine vegetables in a medium pot and fill with water to cover by one inch. Add 1 t salt and simmer for about 45 min or until celeriac and potato are fully cooked but not waterlogged. Remove thyme and discard. Drain mixture well and puree while still very hot in food processor and season with more salt if needed. Puree should be almost as stiff as mashed potatoes. Hold in a covered pan in a 200 degree oven for serving.
For the blackfishINGREDIENTS
4 6-oa fillets Louisiana blackfish, skin on
Tender yellow leaves from 1 head of celery
8 oz. jumbo lump crabmeat
peel of 1 lemon, all pith removed
3/4 c extra kosher salt
3/4 c sugar
1 t unsalted butter
1 t canola oil
1 t champagne vinegar
Vegetable or canola oil for cooking
In a small pot, combine 1 c water with 1/4 c each sugar and salt and all of lemon peel. Bring to a boil, simmer four minutes, and drain. Repeat twice; lemon peel should be pliable by now. Drain on paper towels and slice as thin as possible with a very sharp knife. Combine in a small bowl with crab and celery and refrigerate.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Heat about 1/4 cup of the cooking oil in a large sauté pan over a high flame. Season the fish on both sides with salt. When the oil has just begun to smoke, carefully place the fish in the pan skin side down. Shake the pan to make sure the fish isn’t sticking and turn the flame down to medium. Let the fish cook about four or five minutes like this until the skin is golden brown and crispy, then flip it over, add the butter, and turn off the flame. Let the fish sit for two to three minutes or until fully cooked.
Add the oil and vinegar to the salad from the refrigerator and gently toss. Put a large dollop of the celery root puree in the middle of each of four warm plates and spoon a ring of sauce around each. Place a piece of fish on each plate and gently place a quarter of the salad on top of each fish. Serve immediately.
“BROUILLADES AUX TRUFFES”
(Yard eggs and truffles)
4 each whole yard eggs
1/2 each small truffle
1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 tbl unsalted butter, cold
Add sea salt to taste
One day ahead, that is if you’re one of those organized types, slice the small truffle paper-thin and cover with the best olive oil you can find. Refrigerate in an airtight container until use. Heat a medium size non-stick skillet over moderate heat and add olive oil. Add eggs and truffles together while stirring constantly over heat. Once the eggs begin to cream, remove from heat and continue stirring. Allow the eggs to continue cooking in the pan for a few moments before adding the cold butter, salt and pepper. Serve right away.
SWEET POTATO MOLASSES SOUFFLÉ WITH BROWN BUTTER NEW ORLEANS RUM SAUCE
Brown butter New Orleans rum sauce
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/2 cup cream
3 tablespoons butter, browned
3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons New Orleans rum
Pinch of salt
Place sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, raise the heat and allow the mixture to cook to an amber caramel. Carefully add cream, butter, salt and 3 tablespoons rum, stirring constantly (the caramel will steam and possibly splatter, so use caution). When ready for use, reheat sauce until liquid and smooth. Add remaining rum, and flambé while pouring over prepared soufflés.
SWEET POTATO MOLASSES SOUFFLÉ
2 sweet potatoes
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup molasses
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons New Orleans rum
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Sugar and unsalted butter for ramekins
Peel and boil potatoes in water until tender. Drain, and then mash or puree them. In a saucepan, bring the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, molasses, cream, and rum to a simmer. In the meantime, whisk together yolks, flour, salt and the cornstarch. Slowly add the milk to the yolk mixture, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks will not cook. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly until it becomes thick and pudding-like. Remove from heat and whisk in cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet potato puree.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and butter and sugar ramekins liberally. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, slowly adding the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar until the whites form a stiff peak. Whisk a fourth of the mixture into the sweet potato mixture to lighten it, and then carefully fold the remaining egg whites until just incorporated. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins, place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until well risen and slightly firm. Serve sauce immediately.