Virtual Jazz Festival 2018 (New Orleans, We Miss You!)
Eats: Crawfish Monica, Red Beans & Rice, Pralines
Tunes: Compiled a Spotify playlist favorite New Orleans musicians and songs
Story: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival! If you can’t get to the fairgrounds, bring the fun to you!
Have you been to New Orleans Jazz & Heritage fest (aka simply “jazz fest”)? I really thought I’d be there again this weekend but it didn’t work out. As I saw favorite artists posting pictures and videos on Instagram, I was growing glum. But instead of wallowing, I decided to head over to the Sunny Side of the Street, blast some New Orleans tunes, cook some great Jazz Fest fare, reminisce over past visits to the fest, and watch videos and live streams of the fest (yay for technology!).
If you haven’t gone it’s so worth the trip! But if you can’t, you can approximate it at home using the tunes and food from below.
Just as New Orleans funerals start with a dirge and then turn into a celebration with their second lines, we turned our sadness into a party to celebrate the New Orleans Jazz Fest awesomeness we could still enjoy from afar. The playlist follows this cue, starting with a dirge, moving onto a classic second line song, and then just all out New Orleans fun. We tried to include one song from all of our New Orleans favs that we would have seen at the fest, and/or around the city (even if just in spirit, like Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet). And finally, we end with what else but “When the Saints go Marching in” and “Lagniappe – Part 1” by Trombone Shorty. Can’t exactly say why except that Lagniappe felt like the perfect ending, almost like a bonus track. Now that I’ve looked up the word “lagniappe” I know why: it means “bonus or gift.” So there ya go!
And of course, if you’re reading this during a future fest, listen or watch live! The vehicle seems to keep changing but check out WWOZ or the Jazz Fest site and you should find your way to some live streams.
Once the playlist is going, make your Sazerac as a second step to getting into that New Orleans State of mind. As for food, get the red beans and rice going first because they only get better as they sit. Next up is pralines so they have time to cool and harden. Last, but not least the Crawfish Meghna/Monica which is very quick.
This link provides not only the classic Sazerac recipe but the history of the recipe, including some evolution of the official version. For example, the New Orleans version uses Herbsaint rather than Absinthe.
Or head over here for some other New Orleans classic cocktails to whet your whistle.
Red Beans and Rice
- 3 cups uncooked long-grain rice
- 1 12 oz can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed. (someday, I’ll plan ahead and soak dried beans instead).
- 1/2 pound Andouille smoked chicken sausage (~2 links), skin removed and chopped into 1/3 inch-thick half moons*
- 3/4 cup celery, finely chopped (~3 ribs)
- 3/4 cup bell pepper, finely chopped (~ 1/2 large pepper)
- 3/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tbsp salted butter
- 2 tsp Creole seasoning (I used Penzey’s)
- 1 -1.5 cups chicken broth
- Optional: chopped green onions for garnish)
- Set the rice to cook, if you haven’t already!
- Chop the vegetables
- Cut up the sausage.
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter and brown the sausage.
- Remove the sausage and keep aside, covered. Do not clean the pan or discard the remaining oil.
- In the same pan, using the same butter/oil, cook the celery, onions and peppers. Depending on how much oil rendered from the sausages used, you may need to melt in additional butter before you add the veggies.
- Cook the veggies until they are soft and begin to brown, stirring often. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add beans, Creole seasoning, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil;reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes (and let it sit longer if possible).
- Serve with white rice and if desired garnish with sliced green onions. **
* this time we couldn’t get our hands on Andouille so we used smoked chicken sausage and added extra black pepper. Turned out fabulous.
** And if you are lucky enough to have any left over, I’d highly recommend transforming it into a brunch dish by topping it it with a fried egg. the way the yolk melds with the beans and rice is absolutely sublime. Did that on a whim for our virtual Jazz Fest 2017. YUMBOS.
Still using the quick microwave version cuz it’s too darn easy and too darn good! And this time I managed to save myself from burnt fingertips by using 2 spoons to portion out the piping hot pralines. I just never bothered getting that second spoon in the past, but nowadays I needed to save my fingertips for my budding guitar skills.
“Crawfish Meghna” (i.e. the Brooklyn, quick version of Crawfish Monica)
- 1 lb cooked crawfish tails, (or 1 bag frozen langoustine from Trader Joe’s works in a pinch)
- 1 good-sized bunch green onions, chopped (tops, too), plus more chopped for garnish, if desired
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1-2 tsp Penzey’s Cajun Seasoning (or jerk spice I think I used this time?)
- 2 tsp Penzey’s smoked paprika
- .5 lb. cooked fresh pasta (Rotelli is preferred, and whole wheat isn’t good with this)
- 1.5 cups grated Gouda (Gouda is my our new fav here though I used to use Parmesan. Aged orange cheddar might also work.)
- Chop green onions, dice garlic and grate the Gouda.
- Cook pasta in PRESSURE cooker to retain the starch as a thickener. Use 2 cups water for every .5 lbs of pasta. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes and use the quick release.
- Meanwhile, over medium heat in a large pot melt the butter and sauté onions and garlic for a few minutes until it softens, then add garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.
- Add spices and stir.
- Add the seafood and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the evaporated milk, and additional spice as desired
- When it starts to boil, lower heat and cook for a few minutes more, which allows crawfish to take on some of the flavor.
- Add seafood mixture into pasta and stir well. Heat over low heat to thicken a bit.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!