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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

New Orleans is melting pot of culture

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

I grew up on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans. There are many great restaurants that non locals don’t know about located there. My favorite restaurant on my side of the river is Mosca’s.

Mosca’s is located in the small town of Westwego, located 20 minutes from the French Quarter. You want to use a GPS to find this gem. It is housed in a white shack that many people pass by the first time they try to find it. Once inside, you will find the best Creole Italian food in the city.

All of the dishes are served family style, in large platters. Plates are placed on the table so you can taste each dish. Unless you are hungry, do not order one dish per person. The entrees are large enough to share. For a table of four, I would recommend the following three dishes, Shrimp Mosca, Chicken a la Grande and Oysters Mosca, with a side of Spaghetti Bordelaise ( Olive Oil, Butter and Garlic). This will fill up even the hungriest teenagers.

These recipes are made with wine. You can find cooking wine at your local grocery stores. When using a cooking wine, reduce the salt in the dish. The cooking wine contains a good amount of sodium. You may also substitute Chicken or Seafood stock for the wine in these dishes.

Most people think that Shrimp Mosca and BBQ shrimp are the same dish. They are two very different flavors. While they both use large shell-on shrimp, the seasonings are quite different. Just make sure that you have enough bread to sop up the sauce in the dish. Some people think that the bread dipped in the sauce is the best part of the dish.

Shrimp Mosca

2 pounds large, headless Shrimp 3/4 cup Olive Oil 1 tablespoon Salt 1 tablespoon freshly ground Black Pepper 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano 1 tablespoon Dries Rosemary 3 Dried Bay Leaves 6-10 cloves Garlic, pounded 1/2 cup Dry White Wine

Place all ingredients except wine into a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the shrimp are pink and the liquid produced by the shrimp has almost completely disappeared, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat, remove from stove, and add the wine. Return to stove and cook at a low simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about five to seven minutes.

The next dish is Chicken a la Grande. This is a great way to cook chicken without having to turn on the oven. Prepared entirely on the stove, your kitchen will stay cool. It is also a light dish, making it a great summertime dinner.

Chicken a la Grande

3 pound Whole Chicken, cut into 8 pieces 3/4 cup Olive Oil 1 tablespoon Salt 1 tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper 6-10 cloves Garlic, pounded 1 tablespoon Dried Rosemary 1 tablespoon Dried Oregano 1/2 cup Dry White Wine

Place chicken pieces in a large skillet pan. Pour the olive oil all over the chicken, making certain the pieces are well coated. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, making sure the seasonings are evenly spread. Turn the burner on medium-high. Brown chicken on all sides, turning as needed. This should take about 25 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary and oregano, making certain to distribute them evenly on the chicken. Remove the skillet from the stove. Pour the white wine over the chicken. Reduce heat medium-low. Simmer uncovered until the wine is reduced by half, about 10 to 15 minutes.

My favorite dish at Mosca’s is the Oysters Mosca. There are many variations of this dish around New Orleans. In fact, I have my own twist on it. To me, this is the best way to eat a cooked oyster. It is a perfect as an appetizer or an entrée. It is also a dish that can be assembled ahead of time and cooked before being served.

Oysters Mosca

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) Butter 1/4 cup Olive Oil 2/3 cup Italian Bread Crumbs 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper 1/2 teaspoon Dried Tarragon 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano 2 tablespoons Parsley, minced 2 teaspoons Garlic, minced 2 tablespoons Green Onions, finely chopped 2 – 2/12 Dozen Oysters

Preheat oven to 450℉.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add olive oil and heat slightly. Remove pan from heat and add all remaining ingredients except oysters. Mix well.

Place well drained oysters in au gratin dishes. Spoon equal portions of sauce over each. Bake for about 15 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately.

You can place all oysters and sauce in one dish to cook if preferred.

As you can see, not all of New Orleans food is Cajun. It is a melting pot of Creole, Cajun, Italian, Vietnamese, and many other cultures.

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