“I cook more today like my grandmother,” says Chef John Besh, award-winning New Orleanian chef and cookbook author, the newest of which is Besh Big Easy (Andrews McMeel, 2015). “I use fewer pots than I ever have. My pantry doesn’t have to be filled with every spice known to mankind. I’m content cooking foods I grew up with, making sure my children have a taste for it and really understand the soul of the food.”
In his previous books, John focused on exquisite and elaborate Creole dishes, family meals, and the influence of his mentors on his culinary creative process, but in Besh Big Easy, he had a different goal. He wanted a cookbook that would help preserve classic New Orleans recipes, dishes that every New Orleanian and every lover of the Crescent City should be exposed to, but were slowly fading away with the passage of time.
The softcover volume includes more than 100 recipes over 11 chapters and covers old-school favorites like stuffed artichokes, grillades and grits, chicken fricassee, stuffed tomatoes, caldo, a quick-and-easy version of New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp, and more.
“I hope this book is splattered and tattered and full of sticky notes and folded pages,” John says. “I think this is a book that should be around for another generation, for people to turn to as a reference for no-frills New Orleans food. New Orleans is much bigger than any one chef or culinary trend.”
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ pounds jumbo fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup sliced andouille or other smoked pork sausage
- 1 pound fresh pork sausage, casings removed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups Shrimp Stock (recipe follows)
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Baked Cheesy Grits (recipe follows)
- Garnish: chopped green onion
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Season shrimp with salt, and cook until browned but not cooked through. Remove shrimp, and set aside.
- In the same pan, add andouille, and cook over medium heat until browned; set aside. Repeat with pork sausage. Add onion, garlic, and thyme to pan, and cook until they become aromatic; add all reserved sausage. Add Shrimp Stock, and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add shrimp, and cook 5 minutes more. Add tomato and lemon juice.
- Divide Baked Cheesy Grits among serving bowls. Top with shrimp mixture, and garnish with green onion, if desired.
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 1 cup grated provolone or mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup cream cheese
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water, salt, and butter to a boil over high heat; slowly whisk in grits. Lower heat, and cook, stirring often, about 20 minutes or until grits are soft and creamy. Remove from heat, and fold in cheeses, red pepper, and more salt, if desired. Serve right from the pan, or transfer to a skillet and bake at 350° for 15 minutes.
- 1 pound shrimp heads and shells
- 1 cup each, chopped celery and carrot
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large pot, add 1 pound shrimp heads and shells, and cook over medium-high heat until toasted. Add 1 cup each chopped celery and carrot, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and 2 bay leaves. Cover mixture with water by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer about 2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer; discard solids. Cover and refrigerate, or freeze up to 6 months.