Pannéed meat

My grandmother used to make this dish all the time and I never questioned the use of the word “meat” in the name… I assume it was beef or veal, but it was New Orleans. “Pannéed” means pan-fried or pan-sautéed and you often find this in po-boy shops as “Pannéed Chicken”; if it’s deep fat fried then it’s not really pannéed. You can pannée chicken, beef, veal, fish and probably seitan. This dish is similar to the Italian “Parmigiana”, but without the cheese on top. For this recipe I am going to assume beef:

Pannéed Meat

6 beef or veal medallions
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
peanut oil, enough to be 1/2 inch deep in a skillet

First, you want the cheap-o beef medallions, as you are going to beat them tender. Get a meat tenderizer and beat, beat, beat the medallions until they are 1/8“ thick. Combine the egg and buttermilk and place in a bowl. Dredge the medallions in the egg/buttermilk wash and then in the breadcrumbs, making sure to completely coat both sides. Fry the meat in your heated peanut oil (medium heat) until one side is nicely browned (about 2 minutes) and then repeat on the other side. Place cooked medallions on a sheet of brown paper bag to drain of excess oil. You can eat this as is or smother this in red gravy. Also good as an accompaniment to red beans and rice. Serves 3.

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Creole Sauce

This is yet another flexible (and easy) red sauce that is most often known from the dish Shrimp Creole, this chicken creole. This tomato-based sauce is cooked relatively quickly (unlike red gravy) so that the vegetables remain distinct and somewhat crisp. Creole sauce is Spanish in origin and was probably carried to Louisiana by the Los Isleños (from whom I was spawned). The folks in New Orleans prefer the Creole Tomato for this dish as it has the richest tomato taste of any variety grown in the US (no lie!), but any tomato used for sauce will do (if using plum or Roma tomatoes, use 12 instead of 6).

Chicken Creole

3 lbs. cut-up fryer chicken
2 or 3 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons dark roux (peanut oil and flour, see below for recipe)

2 Spanish or yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 bell peppers, cored and roughly chopped
4 stalk celery, diced
6 large tomatoes, skinned and seeded and roughly chopped 
 (or substitute 1-28 oz. can diced tomato)
1 small can tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
3 (Turkish) bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning
hot sauce to taste

Roux: You may be able find jarred roux at some grocery stores, if you don’t have the patience to make your own, this is what you want to get. Roux can be made in large batches and refrigerated for several months. Start with ¼ cup peanut oil and heat over medium heat. Add ¼ cup flour and turn heat down to low. Stir constantly until it turns a color somewhere between milk chocolate and dark chocolate, this may take upwards of 25-30 minutes. If black dots appear, it is ruined and you will need to start over.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat and fry tomato paste. Turn heat to low and stir paste until it turns mahogany and takes on a chunky consistency. Set aside.

Dredge chicken pieces in a little flour and brown in 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot. Remove chicken and add (to the same pot) roux and sautée the trinity (onion, peppers, celery) until wilted. Add tomatoes and garlic, cook for 2 minutes or so.

Add all remaining ingredients to sauce mixture including browned chicken. Simmer covered on low for 2 hours. Taste sauce for seasoning after an hour and adjust as necessary. The sauce should be about the same consistency as gumbo when done.

Serve over hot rice.

Note: many people make Creole sauce and add seafood (shrimp, crab) instead of or along with chicken. Add seafood when the sauce is about 5 minutes from being done.

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Red Gravy

This sauce is more than just “spaghetti sauce”. Its flexibility allows us to use it on top of meatloaves, pannéed meats, po-boy, fish, sausage and, yes, even pasta. In fact, I make this for pasta sauce instead of plain marinara, I find its richness to be beyond compare.

Red Gravy

1/2 cup olive oil
1 whole bulb of garlic, with each toe sliced in half lengthwise
3 bay leaves
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups canned tomato purée
6 ounces tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (Italian or sweet)
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

In a 2-quart saucepan or stockpot, heat the olive oil, sliced garlic cloves, and 2 of the bay leaves. Cook garlic slices to achieve browning on both sides (over medium heat), cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes and stirring often. Remove garlic from pan, you can toss this. Turn down heat to medium-low and add the onions to the pan and sautee until edges start to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes and stirring constantly.

Add the tomato paste and cook with the onions until the color deepens to a red mahogany color; it gets somewhat sticky, it will build up your forearm muscles. This step is important, so be patient! You want to carmelize the entire mixture; this is where almost all of the flavor for the sauce will come from. When done, add the third bay leaf and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer; here is where you will adjust your seasonings… I like mine on the spicier side so I actually add 2 tablespoons of creole seasoning rather than 2 teaspoons. Maintain a very low simmer and cook for about three hours and stirring frequently. The whole house will smell delicious for days after making this. Makes 6 cups and freezes well.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

My grandmother used to make the best stuffed bell peppers, never greasy or dry and perfect in the winter when was rainy and raw in New Orleans. This is my best attempt at capturing the soul of her dish. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 bell peppers
1/2 stick butter, plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, large and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 toes garlic, diced
2 lbs. ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork or veal (you may also use crab and shrimp)
4 cups bread crumbs (seasoned are best)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise, remove stems and seeds; set aside. Melt butter in skillet and add olive oil; sautee onion, celery mixture. Add garlic for last two minutes of sautee time, sautee mixture until vegetables are wilted. Add ground meat or seafood and completely cook mixture (seafood will only a take around two minutes). Add bread crumbs and season mixture with salt, pepper and creole seasoning. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Work in the eggs into stuffing mixture, its best to temper the eggs with some of the mixture first in case it’s too warm; you don’t want to scramble the eggs. Adjust seasoning if necessary and begin spooning mixture into the bell pepper shells. Place them in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle some extra bread crumbs on top of each and add a pat of butter to top for a golden brown crust (optional).

Bake dish in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the shells are tender. Serves 6.

Another option that I like is to add some red gravy to the top. If the stuffing is too dry add some vegetable or beef stock to the mixture. These make good meals unto themselves.

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Gumbo

Gumbo is one of those dishes that is both extremely flexible and extremely tasty. There are three main types of gumbo: Gumbos made with roux (a flour and oil mixture cooked together to add richness, color and flavor), gumbos made with okra and gumbos with filé (typically considered cajun). The recipe I am posting uses both a roux and okra, most people think you need to use one gumbo key ingredient; but I like the way it tastes together. You can leave out the okra if you find it slimy or leave out the roux… the wonderful thing is a gumbo is tolerant of additions AND subtractions.

Gumbo

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 toes of garlic, diced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 lb. chopped okra (you can use frozen, but fresh is best)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomato (or 3 roma tomatoes, diced)
  • 8 cups vegetable, chicken, or seafood broth (or 12 cups water, the broth will taste richer; I usually use a combination of chicken stock, vegetable broth or sometimes some shrimp bouillon bloomed in boiling water, it depends on my mood and my cabinets)
  • Creole seasoning to taste (I use 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon crab boil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 4 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
    —–
    for meat eaters: add 1 lb. chicken cut up and 1 lb. smoked sausage
    for a seafood gumbo: add 1 lb. shrimp and 1 lb crab (you may want to substitute fish stock or shrimp stock for the vegetable broth)

First, you start with a roux… melt the butter in a stock pot and add flour. Cook until dark, you must babysit this so it doesn’t burn. Constantly stir the roux until it looks about the color of peanut butter (you can cook it longer for a richer taste, all the way to the color of chocolate). If it burns (even a little bit), you MUST start over. If you are using chicken, you may dredge the chicken in flour, fry that up first, set aside and start your roux along with the chicken drippings.

Add your onions, celery, okra and bell pepper to the roux, cook until vegetables are tender and the slime is cooked out of the okra. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

In a separate pot, fry the can of tomato paste in a little olive oil. You want to stir it until you achieve a mahogany color. Put browned tomato paste in pot with gumbo ingredients.

Add your sausage and cooked chicken now. For seafood gumbo, hold off until the last 2 minutes or so of cooking, overcooked seafood is nasty. Add broth/water and seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Now is when you want to test your seasonings. I like mine hot and spicy… I use a lot of Creole seasoning and black pepper. Cook mixture for about 30 minutes. Serve in bowls over 1/2 cup of hot white rice per serving. Serves 6-8.

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