• Tommy Centola

Side dishes from Brigtsen's restaurant

Chef’s are a resilient bunch. The only thing that is consistent in the restaurant business is the inconsistency. No two days are the same. You try to prepare for everything but sometimes things can catch you off guard.

No one could have predicted what was coming in 2020. Restaurants would face their biggest challenge. As I said in my last column, some restaurants did not make it. Fortunately for New Orleans diners on July 30th, Brigtsen’s has opened up for takeout business.

Like many chefs, Frank Brigtsen never stopped cooking. He turned to his home kitchen and started working on a project. During this time, he put together two cookbooks, “Stay-At-Home Cooking, Recipes from Chef Frank Brigtsen Spring 2020 & Summer 2020. While Frank has always shared his knowledge giving cooking classes and demonstrations, he had never put together a collection of his recipes. These recipes have all been fine tuned in his home kitchen. Today, I am sharing two side dishes, Spaghetti Bordelaise and New Potato Salad, one from each of his books.

Here is the side dish that accompanies Frank’s wonderful Veal Parmesan. He was asked by a food writer “With all the creative dishes on your menu, what’s up with the Veal Parm? Frank response was “That dish is on there for ME! You can find the veal recipe in his Spring 2020 cookbook.

Spaghetti Bordelaise

3 quarts water (to cook pasta)

3/4 pound dried spaghetti

3 tablespoons mild olive oil (pomace or pure)

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Bring the water to a boil and add spaghetti. Cook until tender, but firm (al dente). When the spaghetti is about halfway done, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Working quickly, add the garlic, parsley and salt. Sauté for 10-15 seconds, being careful not to brown the garlic. Quickly add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and bring to a boil. Add the butter and reduce heat to low. Shake the skillet just until the butter melts into the sauce. Quickly drain the cooked pasta and add it to the skillet. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Place the pasta on serving plates and top each portion with 1 tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan cheese.

New Potato Salad uses tricks that Chef Frank has picked up over the years. The first is the washing of the potatoes with salted water. He uses this method for both potatoes and mushrooms. The Hard-Boiled eggs are the way his mother used to make them. This recipe is from his Summer 2020 cookbook.

New Potato Salad

3 pounds small red potatoes, washed and boiled until very tender

4 large eggs, hard-boiled

1 3/4 cups Blue Plate mayonnaise

3 tablespoons yellow mustard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

3/4 cup very thinly diced celery

To wash the potatoes, put them in a pot and add about 2 tablespoons of salt. Cover with water. Rub the potatoes with your hands to remove any dirt. (The salt helps release the dirt). Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again. Cover the potatoes with fresh water and put them on the stove to boil. Boil until very tender, 35-40 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Smash the potatoes with a potato masher or heavy-duty wire whisk. Do not refrigerate.

To boil the eggs, place them in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil for exactly 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let sit for exactly 5 minutes. Drain off the hot water and cool the eggs with cold tap water. Do not refrigerate. Peel the eggs. Add the hard-boiled eggs to the cooked potatoes, breaking them into large chunky pieces with your hands. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt, hot sauce, white pepper, and granulated garlic. Mix until fully blended. Chill the potato salad thoroughly before transferring to covered storage containers.

If you wish to purchase either or both of these books, they are available on the restaurant website. You can also purchase the seasoning blends that Frank uses in the restaurant. I have both cookbooks and have sampled his blends. I’m hoping that these books could lead to a formal cookbook from Brigtsen’s. Only time will tell.

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