Several times a week I receive an email from Saveur featuring an exotic or special menu, and they range in themes including ethnic, holiday, and social occasions among others. Today I received the Saveur Menu: A Classic New Orleans Dinner.
The selected “Classic” menu includes the following items:
- Commander’s Palace Sazerac
- Oysters Rockefeller
- Shrimp and Tasso Henican
- Pompano en Papillote
- Sautéed Collard Greens
- New Orleans French Bread
- Bananas Foster
Here is my take on the Saveur Classic New Orleans Dinner menu.
Start your dinner experience right with a classic New Orleans cocktail! Indeed, and I have to agree with the Sazerac since it is one of the most popular New Orleans libations right up there with the Hurricane at Pat O’s and the Pimm’s Cup at The Napoleon House.
Oysters Rockefeller, another great selection in the “classic” menu, were created at Antoine’s Restaurant in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, son of the restaurant’s founder. Always a great first choice appetizer with any classic New Orleans menu, it can still be found in many restaurants in and around New Orleans, and in eateries across America for that matter, as the popularity of this famous dish has gained traction in recent years. I am wondering if the Katrina Migration has any influence on the growing popularity of Louisiana Cajun and Creole dishes outside of state lines? I had unique opportunities to prepare this dish when I worked at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, the Columns Hotel, and several others.
Shrimp and Tasso Henican is a recipe that Jamie Shannon created during his tenure at Commander’s Palace and continues to be a popular appetizer sized plate, and while I have never had the opportunity to make or enjoy this dish, it is certainly up there as a contemporary classic.
Pompano en Papillote is another menu item that I had the pleasure of preparing when I was the saute cook and sous chef at the Columns Hotel in the mid to late 1980’s. Another classic from Antoine’s Restaurant, it was created for a banquet honoring the Brazilian balloonist Alberto Santos-Dumont. Any classic New Orleans menu would be remiss if it did not include this inventive steam in the parchment paper creation.
New Orleans French Bread is a one of a kind unique bread experience. I still have yet to find any place outside of New Orleans that creates the same outer and thin hard shell crispy crust with the signature light and airy fluffy texture inside that makes the perfect Po’ boy sandwich. Many attempt to duplicate “French Bread” but I find most are knock offs that never come close, many due to the outside crust having no crunch at all, and the inside being a doughy dense mess of tightly bound tiny air pockets. The signature that differentiates true French Bread from all the others is the thin crispy crust and the light and airy fluffy inside, anything other that that is not true French Bread. The procedure for Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: French Bread by Pinch my Salt is the closest recipe to a true French Bread I have found.
Bananas Foster must have been a close contender with Bread Pudding, but there is no mistake here as Bananas Foster is a certain classic New Orleans dessert that will continue to please as long as there are bananas and ice cream. Of course variations on a theme, the sauce stays the same, but who said the only thing you could put Bananas Foster Sauce on was ice cream? The invention of my Chocolate Mocha Bavarian Crème filled Crêpes with Bananas Foster Sauce is testament to the fact that you are only limited by your available ingredients and your creativity.