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A Taste of the Big Easy

New Orleans chef Brian Landry cooks up some Gulf Coast seafood for these annual celebrations.

Crab cake with an avocado and cucumber salad in a crystallized ginger lime consommé


Nothing says New Orleans like Mardi Gras, and all the fun and food that goes with this season—the pre-Lenten celebration of Carnival—starts a couple of weeks before the actual holiday—the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

This year, New Orleans will be particularly festive, with the Superbowl and Mardi Gras filling the city streets with fans and revelers at the same time—the big game is on February 3rd, and Fat Tuesday is February 12th. So it’s a good year to put some Mardi Gras flavor in your game party plan.

A good starting point for the menue is the local bountiful supply of seafood—shrimp, crab, and numerous varieties of wild fish, all caught along the Gulf Coast, which spans five states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. 

Recently, Executive Chef Brian Landry, whose New Orleans restaurant, Borgne, is a literal gumbo of recipes using locally harvested foods, visited the metro area to share some of his favorite seafood dishes.

Growing up in New Orleans, in a family who loved fishing and sharing big pots of jambalaya and other seafood-based meals, Landry, who also worked for five years as executive chef at Galatoire’s, a storied city institution, jumped at the chance to direct the Borgne kitchen, located in the last neighborhood in the city to be restored after Hurricane Katrina.

The restaurant’s menu, packed with dishes prepared with local ingredients, is a perfect example of farm to table—or boat to table, in this case—transforming traditional foods with contemporary flair. While we talked, sous chefs in the New York demonstration kitchen where Landry was temporarily holding court offered up a feast of small plates: seared tuna with a flavorful rub of Creole spice; a delicious and little-known Gulf fish called black drum, similar to redfish and available from Whole Foods, garnished with black-eyed peas; a shrimp and butter bean salad; and, perfect for a winter menu starter, a crabmeat and beet salad (we share that recipe below). Landry’s light and delicious dressings, and pairings of seafood with legumes and citrus, make a great combination of flavors.

Of course, if you want to sample Mardi Gras and the Superbowl in their authentic surroundings, you can find a table at Borgne, located conveniently between the Superdome and the Latin Quarter, so you can savor dinner, as well as the biggest game and all-city party of the year.

Recipe Provided by the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition and Executive Chef Brian Landry.

Crab and Beet Salad

Ingredients for Beet Salad

2 red and yellow whole beets
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoon caraway seed, toasted
TT Salt
1 ruby red grapefruit
1 sheet lavash
4 cups baby lettuce (mizuna, arugula, etc)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for Crabmeat

1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoon horseradish
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
½ lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1 pound Louisiana jumbo lump crabmeat

Preparation for Beet Salad

Preheat the oven to 425°

Rub the beets all over with olive oil and salt generously. Place on a baking sheet and into the oven for 45-60minutes.

Cook until the beets are soft all the waythrough. Allow the beets to cool and then peel and cut into quarters.

Place in mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and caraway seed. Salt to taste.

Preparation for Crabmeat

Combine all ingredients except crabmeat in a mixing bowl and combine well. Check seasoning.

Pick crabmeat for shells. Gently fold in the crabmeat making sure to not break up the lumps.

Cut the grapefruit into segments by cutting away the skin and then cutting the flesh on each side of the membrane. There should be no skin, pith, or membrane attached to the segments.

Divide beets among 8 plates. Divide the the crabmeat into 8 equal portions. 

Place crabmeat onthe plates in 3 or 4 small spoon fulls. Place of few grapefruit segments on each plate.

Toss thebaby lettuces with the olive oil.

Divide the lettuces and gently place over the crabmeat and beets.

Break the lavash into large pieces and place a few pieces on each plate.

Makes 8 servings

For more recipes, visit: http://www.eatgulfseafood.com/

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