When most visitors to the city of New Orleans dine out, they tend to gravitate to the French Quarter. Some will venture to the Garden District to eat at Commander’s Palace. As good as those restaurants are, if I could only eat at one New Orleans restaurant, it would be Brigtsen’s. Located two blocks off the St. Charles Streetcar line in the Riverbed section of Uptown, Brigtsen’s is a converted house which serves some of the best food in the city. It is Creole cooking at its finest.
The talent in the kitchen is Chef Frank Brigtsen. This James Beard award winning chef started his career as a protege of Chef Paul Prudhomme while he was at Commander’s Palace. When Chef Paul left Commander’s to open K Paul’s, Frank followed to become the first night chef. In 1986, with the help of Chef Paul, Frank and his wife Marna opened their restaurant with him in the kitchen and her running the dining room.
The menu changes daily. His Roasted Duck is one of the best duck dishes I have ever eaten. The Crawfish Bisque is not to be missed. The Pan Fried Trout with Shrimp, Pecans and Meuniere Sauce is a classic. The BBQ Shrimp, in my opinion, is better than the original at Pascal’s Manale. As for desserts, the Pecan Pie is the best dessert on the menu. Frank also is a master when is comes to Creme Brûlée.
The recipe that I am sharing is for his signature dessert, Pecan Pie. This dish was featured on the Food Network Show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. During the first season of the show, Chef Frank’s Pecan Pie was included on the episode, Sugar Rush. One bite and you will agree, it is the Best Pecan Pie you ever ate.
For the Dough
1 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
7 tablespoons Cold Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Ice Water
Preheat oven to 350℉.
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Using the large holes of a hand grater, grate the butter into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Lightly blend the butter and flour mixture with your fingertips until the texture is like coarse cornmeal. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
Add the ice water and blend until thoroughly incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and place it on a floured cutting board.
Roll out the dough, adding flour as necessary, to 1/8-inch thick. Place an 8 1/2 inch pie pan face down on the dough and cut the dough to fit the pan, leaving a border of about 1 inch.
Line the pan with the dough, trim the edges, and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Filling
1/2 cup Darkly Roasted Pecans, ground
1 cup Granulated White Sugar
1 cup Dark Corn Syrup
2 tablespoons Melted Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Medium Pecan Pieces
In an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, add the eggs and beat on high speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, salt and ground roasted pecans. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Stir in the pecan pieces.
Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 325℉ and bake until the filling is browned on top and the crust is light golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
Next time you are in New Orleans, make a reservation at Brigtsen’s. If you are like me, while dining, you will be planning your next trip to visit Chef Frank and Marna.