My wife and I are planning our annual March trip to New Orleans. The conversation quickly turns to which restaurants we would like to dine at. One restaurant that, if it were open, would be at the top of my list, LeRuth’s.
LeRuth’s was the first job that I had. This five star rated restaurant was the best restaurant in New Orleans. Reservations had to be made at least 2 weeks in advance, 3 if you were going on the weekend. The food was the best examples of Creole cooking.
The genius behind the restaurant was Chef Warren Leruth. (Only the restaurant name has a capital R in it.) He began his career as a baker in the Army. After working in a few restaurants in New Orleans, he became a research chef, developing the Green Goddess dressing for Seven Seas. He returned to New Orleans in 1966 to open his restaurant. He eventually sold the restaurants to his two sons, Larry and Lee, who were both talented chefs, having learned from the master, their father.
Sadly due to personal tragedies, the restaurant closed in 1991. I remember going to visit the kitchen on that last night. It was sad that this great restaurant was closing. A few years later, Chef Warren came in to Cannon’s restaurant, where I was working at the time. As I approached him, he remembered my name and we talked for 1 1/2 hours about the restaurant business. He was amazed how many people who once worked for him were still in the business. So today, here are two recipes from that wonderful restaurant.
Chef Leruth did not think a dinner should start with a cold appetizer. However, this was the exception to the rule. It also makes a great substitute for a salad.
3/4 cup Creole Mustard 2 tablespoons Paprika 1 cup Corn Oil 1/4 cup chopped Onion 1/2 cup chopped Celery 2 tablespoons chopped Parsley 1/2 teaspoon Sugar (optional) Tabasco to taste
Mix well and refrigerate before serving.
To assemble appetizer 24 large Boiled Shrimp, deveined with shells and tail removed 1 head Lettuce, shredded 4 Boiled Eggs
Place lettuce on bottom of a chilled 6-inch plate. In the center put the boiled egg, then surround with shrimp. Top with a generous serving of the remoulade sauce and serve.
This is my version of my favorite entrée for LeRuth’s. Every night they would have a veal special. When asked what entrée I would like to have for my senior prom dinner, this was the one that I selected. It is usually made with King Crab meat, but Lump Crabmeat also works well.
1 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour 1 tablespoon Sugar 2 cups Milk 1 Egg 1/3 cup Canola Oil 5 tablespoons melted Butter, plus extra for pan
Place the flour and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk, egg, oil and butter. Heat a nonstick sauté pan or crepe pan over moderate heat. Lightly coat with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the hot pan and tilt it in all directions. The batter should coat the pan in a light covering. After about 30 seconds, the bottom side of the crepe should be lightly browned and the crepe should be ready to be flipped. Shake the pan in order to release the crepe, and then turn it by using a spatula. Cook the crepe for an additional 15-20 seconds and then remove it from the pan and set aside. Repeat process until all of the batter has been used. This can be done in advance as the crepe will heat up when topped with the sauce.
2 tablespoons Butter 2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour 1/4 teaspoon Salt Dash White Pepper and fresh Nutmeg 1 1/2 cups Half and Half 1 pound Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, picked thru for shells
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until evenly combined. After the mixture is combined with no lumps, slowly add the half and half, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until evenly blended. Stir sauce over medium heat until the mixture bubbles across the entire surface. Cook and stir for a few more minutes. Add crabmeat, stir and keep warm.
4-3ounce slices Veal, pounded thin 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour 1 1/2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
Mix the flour and creole seasoning in a shallow bowl or plate. Lightly dust the veal in the flour. Add enough oil to a large skillet to coat the bottom. Heat pan over medium heat. Sauté the veal for 1 1/2 minutes on each sider until golden brown. Cook the veal in multiple batches, so you do not overcrowd the pan. Add oil to the pan as needed. Keep veal warm until assembly.
To assemble, place a piece of veal on the bottom of a warm plate. Top with a crepe and a generous portion of Crabmeat sauce and serve.
I am hoping one day Larry Leruth will publish a cookbook with his father’s recipes. Until then, I can only try to recreate those delicious dishes.