Gulf Coast: The Food (With Recipes!)
Sometimes—okay, always—travel is enhanced by new food experiences and good fellowship. You might not travel to a destination just for the food, but if you leave without tasting its unique dishes, spice combinations, and local ingredients, you haven’t quite experienced it. The Gulf Coast (Louisiana, Mississippi, southeastern Texas, Alabama, and western Florida) boasts world-renowned food traditions, including: Cajun, Creole, Southern, and anything featuring Gulf water seafood and fresh exotic meats from the surrounding marshes and swamps.
Local food really means local here because the entire food circle happens: production, distribution, and consumption. Thanks to its “gulf to table” focus, Creole and Cajun seasonings, and friendly people, this region of the U.S. is a popular destination for cuisine tourism. This October, BNT will travel to parts of the Gulf Coast region on the “Nashville, Memphis, and Gulf Coast Tour.”
Gulf Coast Spice: Unique Food and Friendly People
If you’ve visited the Gulf Coast before and eaten locally, you’ve probably enjoyed beignets, gumbo, jambalaya, etouffée, and oysters. (Am I the only one, or does the beignet remind you just a little of a our powdered faschnacht?) It’s impossible to visit the Gulf Coast region without passing a casual, no-frills shrimp shack featuring fried seafood, shrimp and grits, and Po’boys, a signature New Orleans sandwich on a crisp and fluffy French baguette. The region also is known for sausage like Andouille, a spicy sausage, and Boudin, a spicy rice and meat sausage. Note the word “spicy.” Here, too, shrimp is treated both as street food and delicacy. As you travel the coastline, you’ll spy shrimp and grits on most menus from the humblest shack to 5-star restaurants—and each will have its own flair.
Great food and fellowship go hand-in-hand. When you dig a little deeper into the people who have created, and are carrying on, the food traditions, it makes perfect sense that both are accessible, spicy, and vibrant. If food can be “happy,” you’ll find it in the Gulf Coast—and there’s probably a festival for it! To name a few, there’s the Scallop Festival, Crawfish & Bluegrass Festival, Po’Boy Preservation, Boudin Wars, Pecan Festival, Sausage Festival, even, the Blessing of the Fleet, and many more. And, guess what? You’re invited, too! Just try to be the first one to say, “Hello.”
Speaking of spicy, what is the difference between Creole and Cajun food?
What’s the difference between Creole and Cajun Food?
Both Creole and Cajun cuisine take full advantage of their Gulf Coast location and the harvest: shrimp, finfish, oysters, and blue crab. The inland freshwaters supply catfish, crawfish, alligator, and even, turtle.
However, the differences are the mix of heritage and history:
Creole: A “fusion of European, African, and Caribbean cooking techniques using Louisiana ingredients prevalent in New Orleans in the early 1800s.”* This urban cuisine is known for having more variety in its dishes, using tomatoes in jambalaya and gumbo, and making roux with butter and flour.
Cajun: “The cuisine of 18th Century French-Acadian exiles who settled in the swamps and prairies of southwest Louisiana.”* This country cuisine uses heavy doses of cayenne and lard or oil, rather than butter, for its roux. Many dishes start with the French mirepoix (onion, celery, peppers). Other common Cajun ingredients are: “paprika, thyme, lime (sassafras leaves), parsley, scallions…”
*from “Louisiana Essential: The Food” www.louisianatravel.com
No matter which tradition you prefer, the Gulf Coast food and people are American originals.
We hope you’ll join us on this year’s Gulf Coast tour in October. Until then, enjoy these authentic recipes from our travel and tourism friends:
Louisiana Travel, Coastal Mississippi, Oak Alley Foundation & Restaurant, Visit Lake Charles, and Visit New Orleans
GULF COAST RECIPES
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from Oak Alley Restaurant, Lousiana
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo Recipe
(BNT will visit Oak Alley Plantation on Day 6 of the “Nashville, Memphis, and Gulf Coast” Tour).
©Oak Alley Restaurant and Inn
Visit https://www.oakalleyplantation.org/ to learn more about Oak Alley Plantation.
Dirty Rice from Lake Charles, Louisiana CVB
Dirty Rice Recipe
- 6 oz. chopped chicken livers
- 6 oz. chopped gizzards
- 1/2 pound ea. of ground beef and pork
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped onions (may use green onion tops)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Parboil livers and gizzards in 3 cups of water for 15 min., reserving stock. Simmer ground meat in shortening for 20 minutes. Then add livers, gizzards, vegetables and seasonings and cook 20 more minutes. Add 2 cups of stock and simmer another 20 minutes. Stir in meat and vegetable mixture and fresh parsley to cooked rice when ready to serve. Serves 12.
(From the files of Irma B. Bryant. Submitted by Dr. Dean Manning)
Visit lakecharles.org for more Gulf Coast recipes.
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp From New Orleans CVB
(BNT will visit New Orleans on Day 7 of “Nashville, Memphis, and Gulf Coast” Tour.)
WHAT IS BARBECUE SHRIMP?
“In New Orleans, seafood is a food group, and we serve it any way we can. BBQ Shrimp has become a beloved local dish, but despite the name, it is not actually barbecued and does not have barbecue sauce. It can be ordered as an appetizer or entree. Served with the heads and tails on, and grilled in Worcestershire sauce and butter, many use a bib to enjoy it. You will have to use your bare hands to eat, and most restaurants will provide ample French bread to sop up the addictively silky sauce.
The dish is rumored to have started from the Italian community of New Orleans, adding it to the Italian-Creole classics. You can find many iterations of the dish all across the city – from the traditional take, to BBQ Shrimp Po-Boys at sandwich shops and Barbecue Shrimp and Grits on brunch menus. The possibilities are endless.”
NEW ORLEANS BBQ SHRIMP RECIPE
• 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 pound jumbo Louisiana shrimp
• 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon Crystal hot sauce
• 1 lemon, juice only
• 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
• 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
• 1 cup Abita Amber beer (or similar) [See substitution note below recipe.]
• 1 cup butter, chilled and chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
• French bread, thickly sliced on the diagonal, warmed
Lightly sauté the garlic in the butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the shrimp and cook for 1
minute on each side. Increase the heat to high and add the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce,
lemon juice, Creole seasoning and cracked pepper. Add the beer *[or substitute] and stir to deglaze the sauté
pan. Cook until reduced by half.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter one piece at a time, mixing until completely
incorporated after each addition, and cooking until the sauce is thickened enough to coat the
spoon. Stir in the rosemary. Ladle into bowls. Serve with hot French bread.
For a dish that’s easy to eat, and still has that classic Barbeque Shrimp presentation, peel the
shrimp, leaving the heads and tails on, before adding them to the sauce.
Try substituting poached oysters for the shrimp, or fried oysters for a great barbeque oyster poboy
on hot French bread.
Recipe courtesy of Bourbon House’s Chef Darin Nesbit.
You can use chicken broth, ginger ale, white grape juice, or white wine if your recipe calls for a light beer. Use beef broth, chicken broth, mushroom stock, apple juice, apple cider, root beer, or coke instead of dark beer.
With all of these ingredients, you want to be sure to replace the beer measure for measure to keep the liquid volume the same in your recipe. [from thespruceeats.com]
Visit www.neworleans.com for more information about New Orleans.
Shrimp & Grits Recipe from Coastal Mississippi
(You can learn about shrimp and shrimping on the Biloxi, MS, Shrimping Trip – Day 8 of the “Nashville, Memphis, and Gulf Coast” Tour.)
- 2 cups half & half
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup grits
- thyme #1
- salt & pepper #1
- Bring liquid ingredients to a boil.
- Whisk in dry ingredients.
- Cook at simmer, whisking until tender.
Shrimp & Sauce
- ½ cup butter, cold divided
- Diced bacon
- Local mushrooms
- Thyme #2
- 2 shallots chopped
- 1 clove garlic sliced
- Peeled & deveined shrimp
- 1.5 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt & pepper #2
- Chopped parsley
- Add spoonful of butter to pan over med-high heat
- Add bacon & render
- Add mushrooms, thyme and shallots and sauté briefly
- Add shrimp to pan
- Deglaze with liquid ingredients
- Reduce liquid by 1/3
- Add in butter slowly
- Season with salt & pepper and garnish with parsley
Bonus: How to Make Roux & Pecan Pralines
How to make roux from Louisiana Travel: https://www.louisianatravel.com/culinary/recipes/how-make-roux
C’est si bon! (It is good!) Watch video to make Pecan Pralines