We are back again with two of New Orelans’ Finest: Executive Chef, Ben McCauley and Executive Sous Chef, Jeremy Stephens of The Troubadour! In this installment of Ben and Jeremy’s chronicles from the kitchen, we get a taste of what Thanksgiving looks like in New Orleans. Read on and follow along for a behind-the-scenes take on their New Orleans kitchen!
From Ben: Thanksgiving. My personal favorite holiday. I mean, what’s not to love? There’s food, beer, loved ones, and last but certainly not least, FOOTBALL! It’s on all day! But back to the food. I don’t know about you but there are some serious staples around the table on turkey day in my family. I remember having a life crisis a age 15 when my aunt opted for “healthier options” rather than corn pudding. That was a rough year. I’m starting to tear up just thinking about it.
This is my round-about way of saying that we all have traditions, especially this time of year, and Jeremy and I love passing down our favorite recipes. When we got together to talk about Thanksgiving dinner and the things that we had to have on our food roster, we both agreed that there was one thing that had to be on the menu: oyster dressing. It was something that had been passed down from our grandmothers, great grandmothers, and so on. My version growing up in the mid-Atlantic area was bread-based, while Jeremy’s was rice-based. You may know it better as dirty rice, but here in Louisiana it’s known as rice dressing. We paired this with a turkey Ballantine.
A Ballantine is a pretty technical way of including all of the (in this case) turkey into one bite. It takes a little practice but if you can pull it off, your guests will be extremely impressed. Not to mention no more light or dark talk–just eat and enjoy. If you want to learn how to make your own, I suggest grabbing a butchering book or checking out some YouTube videos. Jeremy nailed this one, confit legs in a turkey mousse, wrapped in the breasts. And after a trip to Popeyes’, we decided deep-frying was the only way to cook it… (Side note: I ate half the turkey after taking pictures, some before). To finish off the dish and celebrate the tradition, we plated everything in my great great grandmother’s dish.
Oyster Rice Dressing
- 1 lb. Ground Beef
- 1 lb. Ground Pork
- To Taste Kosher Salt
- To Taste Ground Black Pepper
- To Taste Cayenne Pepper
- 1 lb. Richard’s Cajun Dressing Mix
- 1 Yellow Onion, Diced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced
- 1 Stalk Celery, Diced
- 1 Pint Shucked Oysters
- 3-4 cups Cooked Rice
Mix ground beef and pork together. Heat a large pot, preferably cast iron over medium high heat. Add a small amount of oil to the pot and brown meat. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Sweat vegetables until onions are translucent. Add dressing mix and reduce for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, drain oysters, reserving liquid. Cook rice according to packaging, replacing oyster liquor for equal amount of water. Once your meat mixture has cooked for the 30 minutes, fold in whole oysters being careful not to break them. Next add your rice. Start with 3 cups, let sit for a bit to let the juices soak into the rice. If you would like your dressing a little bit drier, add more rice. Adjust seasonings to taste. Try not to eat it all before guests arrive.