• Tommy Centola

Seasonal twist in kitchen

The French Quarter in New Orleans is a place that I would rarely go. The main reason for me to visit would be some of the cities best restaurants are located in the French Quarter. One of my wife and I’s favorites is Mr. B’s Bistro.

Mr. B’s opened on the corner of Royal and Iberville streets in 1979. It started out as a casual branch of Commander’s Palace. It has since become one of the premier restaurants in the city. The centerpiece of the kitchen was one of the first wood-burning grills in the city. Any entrée from the grill is worth the trip into the quarter alone. Mr. B’s is also known for their Gumbo Ya-Ya, chicken and sausage gumbo, and Pasta Jambalaya, replacing the traditional rice with pasta.

Today, I am sharing with you two recipes from their cookbook, Corn and Crawfish Bisque and Trout Amandine.These dishes are often featured as daily specials.

Due to the mild winter in New Orleans, crawfish are already starting to find their way into boiling pots. While we are still a few months away from crawfish boils here, you can always find crawfish tails in the store. This recipe is a seasonal twist on the ever popular Creole soup, corn and shrimp bisque. Of course, you may always substitute shrimp for the crawfish.

Corn and Crawfish Bisque

1 stick Butter

1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour

1 medium Onion, diced

1 medium Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 medium Green Bell Pepper, diced

1 teaspoon Dry Mustard

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon Sugar

6 cups Chicken Stock

3 cups raw Corn Kernels (about 5 medium ears)

1 pound Crawfish Tails

1 cup Heavy Cream

Hot Sauce to taste

In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Gradually add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 6 minutes, or until roux is ivory in color and starts to give off a nutty aroma.

Add onion and bell peppers and cook about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add mustard, salt and sugar and cook, stirring, one minute. Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add corn and simmer, uncovered, until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Add crawfish and cream and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and hot sauce as needed.

Here is a traditional French dish often found in New Orleans. The trout that is used in New Orleans is the salt-water variety. This is a white fleshed fish, opposed to the orange flesh found in fresh water trout, like rainbow trout. Catfish is a great substitute if you cannot find trout.

Trout Amandine

3/4 cup Sliced Almonds

1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour

Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

1 large Egg

1 cup Milk

4 Trout Fillets (each about 6 ounces)

4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 stick Butter

1/2 Lemon

4 fresh Thyme Sprigs

In a large skillet, toast almonds over low heat, stirring occasionally until just browned, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup toasted almonds for garnish.

In a food processor, process 1/2 cup of toasted almonds, flour, salt, and pepper until finely ground and transfer to a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Season trout with salt and pepper and dip into egg wash. Dredge trout in almond flour and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoon of oil over moderately high heat. Add half of fish and cook 30 seconds. Reduce heat to moderate and cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until fish is browned.

Turn fish over and cook 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until firm and cook through. (If almond crust starts to burn, lower heat and adjust cooking time.) Transfer fish to a platter. Wipe out skillet and cook remaining fish in the same manner.

When fish is cooked, add butter to skillet and melt over moderate heat. Cook butter until brown with a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes. Squeeze Lemon into butter and add thyme sprigs and cook 1 minute. Spoon sauce and thyme over trout and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

My wife and I have celebrated a few anniversaries at Mr. B’s. It is well worth the trouble of going into the French Quarter. It also has a parking garage attached, making it the easiest restaurant to visit. If you find yourself eating there, it will be the highlight of your visit to New Orleans.

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