La bonne cuisine: cooking New Orleans style, 337pp.
compiled by women of All Saint’s Episcopal Church
Episcopal Churchwomen of All Saints’, New Orleans, 1980
Cooking on page 132
I’ve had this book for about 25 years, having bought it for $6 from a second-hand bookstore somewhere in the USA. Some of my family hails from Louisiana (New Orleans) and Mississippi (Gulfport), so I have a special interest in the region.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my Uncle Bo lifting me onto a large tree branch in a park on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. To be honest, I only remember my uncle, a tree branch and a large body of water, but my mother filled in the details. She was rather amazed that I remember something from when I was about two years old. After that there’s a big gap in my childhood memories. 🙂
A quick aside about the book. It has more than 550 tested recipes and is thought to be New Orleans most-loved cookbook. It won the Outstanding Community Cookbook Award from the Tabasco/McIlhenny Company Cookbook Hall of Fame. It includes 33 pages of recipes from famous New Orleans restaurants.
Page 32 is the first time I’ve cooked out of this book, and after finishing the recipe I gave the book to young newlyweds, Madeleine and Keiran, who were married in New Orleans. It just seemed the right thing to do. Madeleine and our daughter, Petra, have been friends since pre-school.
So here’s the recipe.
1 large frying chicken, cut up or 6 breasts
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice to taste
butter or margarine
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 pound Velveeta cheese, sliced
jalapeño peppers, sliced
1 (2 ounce) jar pimientos, sliced
1 1/2 cups rice, cooked
Place the chicken in a greased 7” x 11” baking dish. Add the broth, wine, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Dot with the butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and add the garlic, onion and celery. Return it to the oven and bake for 1 hour or until browned.
Remove the dish from the oven, add the cheese, and top with the Jalapeño peppers and pimiento. (The more peppers, the hotter the dish.) Return the dish to the oven and bake, basting occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve the chicken over the rice. Serves 6.
How it played out
Even though I hate cutting up whole chickens, I bought one and did the job without chopping off my fingers. Big whew!
The cheeses and pimentos presented challenges, but not extreme concerns. Velveeta is not available in Australia, nor is tinned (jarred) pimento.
After years of living in Australia, I find it’s not too hard to work around these missing US ingredients. I used grated tasty (strong/vintage) cheddar cheese. The pimentos were easy too. I can buy a jar of fire-roasted red peppers, or even roast and chop red peppers at home.
It often surprises and pleases me to remember how easy it is to make so many different ingredients at home—especially those that we assume can be only store-bought.
My only issue was the suggested 7-inch x 11-inch baking dish. There was no way a whole bird was going to fit in that size pan, so I used a 9 x 13 one. Even that was a stretch, so be sure to use a big enough pan.
This recipe looks rather bland in the main pic, but it’s a tasty and easy-to-make dinner that was enjoyed by everyone. I usually have all the ingredients on hand, so I’ll put this in my lazy-night-dinner file.
Would love to hear other people’s earliest memories. Especially if they have anything to do with food, family or New Orleans. And don’t forget to check out my travel blog.