There are many of things to do in the city of New Orleans. One of the popular attractions is the New Orleans School of Cooking. Located in the French Quarter, The New Orleans School of Cooking is the premier learning experience. Since 1980, the staff, now headed by Chef Kevin Belton, has been teaching tourists and local alike the finer points of Creole and Cajun cooking.

You have a choice of attending a cooking demonstration or participating in a hands on cooking class. Both classes feature dining on the items that are being prepared. What dishes are featured you may ask? Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Pralines and Bread Pudding are among the dishes that fill their calendar. After the classes, you are encouraged to browse thru the Louisiana General Store. Here you will find Cookbooks, Spices, Gift Baskets, and Cookware among other things.This week, I will share with you my interpretation of two of the dishes they teach, Crawfish Pie and Grillades and Grits.

This is a cliché Louisiana dish. Immortalized in the song Jambalaya by Hank Williams, crawfish pie is a dish that is learned early in Louisiana culinary education. Of course, it is best made with leftover crawfish from a boil but feel free to use the frozen crawfish tails. When buying frozen tails, make sure they are Louisiana crawfish and not imported tails.

Crawfish Pie

1 9-inch Deep-Dish Pie Crust
1/4 cup Butter
1 cup Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoon White Pepper
1 cup Diced Tomatoes
1 pound Crawfish Tails, peeled
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Seafood Stock

Place the pie crust into a deep-dish pie plate. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the onions, bell pepper, celery and dry seasonings, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crawfish tails, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3 minutes to marry the flavors, stirring occasionally. Whisk flour and stock together in a bowl until the mixture is smooth, and pour it into the crawfish mixture. Bring the filling to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 20 to 30 minutes to finish thickening.

While the filling is cooling, preheat the oven to 400℉. Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Grillades and Grits are a perfect brunch dish. Most restaurants in Louisiana use veal for the grillades but beef works well also. The keys to this dish is cooking the meat long enough to ensure its tenderness and using a good quality grits.

Grillades and Grits

2 pounds Veal or Beef Round, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
3 tablespoons Canola Oil, divided
Creole Seasoning
Flour
1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 small Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 cup Tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh Thyme, chopped
3 cups Stone Ground Grits, cooked

Cut the meat into 3-inch squares. Season with Creole seasoning, and then dredge in the flour and shake off the excess. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Brown the meat lightly and drain on paper towels. Make a roux in the skillet with two tablespoons of the flour and the remaining oil, cooking the roux until it is a rich dark color. Add all the meaning ingredients, except the grits, to the roux and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, cover the skillet and cook until tender, about 1 hour, stirring often. Serve the Grillades and sauce over the grits.

If you are looking for something to do in New Orleans, I highly suggest spending some time here. I have often thought about doing some cooking classes in White County. I am not sure where to have them or if anyone would be interested. If you are interested or have an idea where to have some classes, drop me a line, tommy@creolecajunchef.com.