“Being a chef here in
is more an act of stewardship than a job," Besh writes. New Orleans
My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh is a masterpiece! It is a cookbook of anecdotes and humorous stories while being filled with amazing recipes and exquisite photographs. It is no small cookbook either, it weighs over 5 pounds!
John Besh is the owner and executive chef of Restaurant August in
New Orleans as well as owning 5 other restaurants in . He was raised in rural southern New Orleans and spent his childhood hunting and fishing. Besh has 4 sons and loves to take a break from the restaurants to continue the family tradition of fishing. He said he wants his sons to understand the origin of local foods and the knowledge of food at its source. Louisiana
I’m sure he does a great job of fishing and hunting and as a chef but he has outdone himself with this cookbook. He shares his love for
, the food, the people, the customs and the great history of the area. It contains over 200 recipes and stories about his hometown with a wide range of recipes such as: Strawberry Ravioli with Meyer Lemons and Pistachios, Belle River Crawfish Pie, Green Onion Sausage and Shrimp Gravy, Green Tomato and Pepper Jam, Roasted Red Gypsy Peppers, Arugula and Country Ham; plus, Hot Blueberry Pie, Crispy Fried Oyster Salad with Louisiana Caviar, Cane Syrup-Creamed Sweet Potatoes and Beignets. New Orleans
The cookbook is beautifully laid-out with unique chapters as well, including Feast Days, The Urban Farm, Mardi Gras, Crawfish and Rice, Thanksgiving, Oyster Season, Reveillon, Gumbo Weather and Chanterelles and Blackberries; just to name a few.
With his narrative bringing the cookbook together, he has raised it to a phenomenal level. It is a worthy testimonial to the region, the fishermen, the hunters, the farmers, the cooks and all lovers of food. This is absolutely an outstanding cookbook to peruse!
Here’s what John says about red beans and rice:
“Time is the key to making successful red beans: they need to cook slowly and well. Using flavorful fat is another secret. Just as my grandmother did, I keep the fat from every batch of bacon I make, and I save the fat that solidifies on the surface of chilled chicken soup and roast chicken drippings, too. Just a little bit adds big flavor.”
Now for the recipe:
John Besh's Red Beans and Rice
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1 pound dried red kidney beans
2 smoked ham hocks
3 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups white rice
Sweat the onions, bell peppers and celery in the bacon fat in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat.
Once the onions become translucent, add kidney beans, ham hocks, bay leaves and cayenne. Add water to cover by 2 inches.
Increase the heat and bring the water to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and allow the beans to simmer for 2 hours. Periodically stir the beans to make sure that they don’t scorch on the bottom of the pot, adding water if necessary, always keeping the beans covered by an inch or more of water.
Continue cooking the beans until they are creamy and beginning to fall apart when they are stirred.
Remove the ham hock meat from the bones, roughly chop it and add it back to the pot of beans.
Season with salt, black pepper and
Serve with white rice.
This is my kind of red beans and rice!
By the way, did any of you happen to watch his “Iron Chef” performance?