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My New Orleans: The Cookbook

by John Besh
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Publishing date: 29/09/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780740784132
  • ISBN: 0740784137


Product Description

My New Orleans will change the way you look at New Orleans cooking and the way you see World-famous chef John Besh. It's 16 chapters of culture, history, essay and insight, and pure goodness. Besh tells us the story of his New Orleans by the season and by the dish. Archival, four-color, location photography along with ingredient information make the Big Easy easy to tackle in home kitchens. Cooks will salivate over the 200 recipes that honor and celebrate everything New Orleans.

Bite by bite John Besh brings us New Orleans cooking like we've never tasted before. It's the perfect blend of contemporary French techniques with indigenous Southern Louisiana products and know-how. His amazing new offering is exclusively brought to fans and foodies everywhere by Andrews McMeel.

From Mardi Gras, to the shrimp season, to the urban garden, to gumbo weather, boucherie (the season of the pig), and everything tasty in between, Besh gives a sampling of New Orleans that will have us all craving for more.

The boy from the Bayou isn't just an acclaimed chef with an exceptional pallet. Besh is a chef with a heart. The ex-marine's passion for the Crescent City, its people, and its livelihood are main courses making him a leader of the city's culinary recovery and resilience after the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.

An Introduction to My New Orleans from John Besh

Dear Friends,

This book is the story of a dreamy, starry-eyed boy brought up in the shadows of New Orleans, surrounded by cypress knees and tupelo trees, good dinners and great friends. My life has been dramatically shaped by our multicultural heritage. Everything that I cook and eat, see and smell, reminds me of where I come from and more or less dictates where I’m going.

I grew up in Slidell, Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. My childhood revolved around the lake, and I spent many hours shrimping in its waters and fishing along its shores. I learned to cook from my mom and my grandmother, and from the men I hunted with, who held that if you hunt it and kill it, a boy like me had better know how to clean it and cook it. Ours was a house of great food--we celebrated everything from births to deaths around great food. My ideas of New Orleans's cooking come directly from the New Orleans table. My cooking draws on decades of learning and mastering cooking techniques that I felt certain would help me years down the road. I restlessly search my mind's catalog of everything I've ever tasted or cooked, so that when I see a tomato at its ripest state, my mind runs through literally thousands of preparations that could work for this here tomato. Some people may look up in the sky and notice a mallard duck, but I see a slow-roasted duckling with lots of hearty herbs, cooked down in a gravy and served over rice.

My goal in launching Restaurant August in 2001 was to have a world-class place that could compete with the great restaurants of New Orleans. But Katrina, of course, changed everything. When the aftermath of that devastating storm threatened our fishermen and farmers, our shrimpers and oystermen, it seemed urgent to help preserve and protect our unique culinary heritage, its local ingredients, and its authentic culture.

After Katrina, being from New Orleans became the focus of my identity. The truth is I am from here and I cook from here--our ingredients and our traditions. I believe our city is a true national treasure: We have one of the few native urban cultures--and cuisines—that still thrives in this country. I cook New Orleans food my way, revering each ingredient as it reaches the ripeness of its season, which is how My New Orleans: The Cookbook unfolds, from Crawfish to Reveillon. No other place on earth is like New Orleans. Welcome to the flavors of my home.

John Besh

From My New Orleans: Drew's Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Throughout this book, I've had a great deal to say about making the roux that's the base of our gumbo--and the other steps as well--but I'll recap it here so that it can be useful every time you start to make our signature dish. Yes, there are other thickeners besides flour that folks use for making their roux, but to my palate, only a flour-based roux yields that traditional flavor. As for the fats in a roux, just about anything works. I love rendered duck fat, chicken fat, or lard, but canola oil works nearly as well.

I always heat the oil first and whisk the flour into the hot oil. Not only does this speed up the process; it yields that deep, dark chocolate-colored gumbo I love. I always add the onions first to the dark roux, holding back the rest of the vegetables until the onion caramelizes. Otherwise, the water in the vegetables will keep the onion from browning and releasing its sweet juices. I like to add file powder to the gumbo, then pass it at the table, too. Serve the gumbo hot with Louisiana rice; serve potato salad on the side, if you like. --John Besh

(Serves 10-12)

  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat or canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 large chicken, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Creole Spices
  • 2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh okra
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Filé powder
  • Tabasco
  • 4–6 cups cooked white rice


1. Make a roux by heating the chicken fat or oil in a large cast-iron or heavy bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue whisking until the roux takes on a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the roux is a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Season the chicken with Creole Spices. Add the chicken to the pot, raise heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until browned, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, Chicken Stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

4. Add the andouille, okra, and Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat off the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé at the table.

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  • C'est Bon Book!
    From Amazon

    John Besh's cookbook is more than just an excellent cookbook, there's anecdotes, humorous stories about New Orleans and its dishes. I highly recommend My New Orleans, the gorgeous photography of New Orleans in itself is worth owning. Let's Go Saints! *Side note: If you're a cook, these ingredients should be familiar to you and not difficult as one person has indicated. I wouldn't recommend the book for beginner cooks, unless they love a challenge and are fans of Cajun and creole cuisine.

  • Great Book
    From Amazon

    I bought this new John Besh cookbook as a Christmas present for my two sons. It is such a great book I am now going to have to buy one for myself!!!

  • Recipes too complicted; food too fancyt
    From Amazon

    I gave the book as a gift but perused it prior to giving. The recipes looked way too fancy and much too much trouble to prepare - not ordinary enough for my taste.

  • Great book! Tasty cookbook
    From Amazon

    This book is beautiful. The stories are thoughtful and provide a window in Louisiana culture and tradition. The photos are so vivid just like the flavors in the cuisine. And the recipes are easy to follow. Though, from time to time they require some interesting ingredients. Besh even provides information on where and how to track down those ingredients. Can't wait to make the king cake this weekend. Happy Mardi Gras Mambo!

  • Amazing Gumbo
    From Amazon

    The cookbook is very beautiful and well organized (by major ingredient or time of year). I only tried one recipe from the book: Drew's Gumbo. I'd have to drive a thousand miles to get a gumbo that good, and I wouldn't be able to eat it all week (leftovers). Having had only one recipe from the book, I can say with confidence that it alone was worth the price of the book.

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