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Attention Fried Chicken Lovers!

(And Who Isn’t a Fried Chicken Lover?
By Tom’s Wife, Mary Ann Fitzmorris)

The Roosevelt Hotel’s Fountain Room (it’s the one that used to the the Sazerac Restaurant) has been spending a lot of time re-thinking its menu. One thing is clear; family-style fried chicken with New Orleans red beans will be a regular Monday night feature.

Monday night was the unveiling party, featuring a large centerpiece basket of fried chicken, big cast iron pots of red beans and rice, flanked on either side by a large chilled bowl of coleslaw. This presentation was accompanied by trays of the requisite biscuit. Abita Beer brought three or four specialty beers that paired well with the Southern food specialties. One was a blend of white wine.

A friend who was joining us this evening had only chicken bones left on her plate. She is still raving about the food. Could it really be that good? I looked the buffet and found the crispest-looking chicken I’ve ever seen, piled high on red and white checkered tissue. A food stylist’s dream. I wanted some. Right now.

I tried to contain my desire for all that chicken. (This was a party after all, and that would be gauche.) Being a white meat girl, I opted for a breast and restrained myself to just one wing. Chef Carl, the genius behind this chicken, was there offering to serve me red beans. It might have been a mistake to decline the rice, because these beans were soupy. Not my preference.

I got myself some cole slaw and a biscuit and joined my friend, who also got more. It was one of those happy occasions when food looks great and tastes even better. I don’t know when I have tasted a more ideal specimen of this dish. The chicken itself tended to be smaller and more flavorful than the usual gray bloated fowl. The spice level was at the exact threshold to grab your attention but not tire your taste buds. Intense. Definitely intense. But kinda magical, too.

The cole slaw was perkier than most, cold and creamy, with vegetable pieces exactly to make a statement. A delicious statement.

Ours is a buttermilk biscuit family. The biscuits here were large and not especially notable except for a light glaze with a hint of sweetness. The bread of the biscuit and the light sweet were the ideal way to balance the intensity of the flavors everywhere else.

Each of the four elements of this plate of food were individually special, distinct, and powerful, then blended into blissfull harmony. Like a symphony. Not Sibelius, more like Mozart.

The maestro of this delicious composition has been fine-tuning it for decades. Chef Carl Cushenberry started as a pot washer at the Roosevelt Hotel long before its association with Waldorf Astoria, working his way into the kitchen. One Mardi Gras Chef Carl’s chicken was offered to hungry revelers outside the old Bailey’s restaurant, beginning a tradition fondly remembered by locals.

In its 125th year, the Roosevelt Hotel is delighted to return Chef Carl’s famous fried chicken to the menu. It’s there every Monday evening, serves family style for $18.93 per person, a nod to the hotel’s opening year. The price includes two pieces of Chef Carl’s unforgettable chicken, red beans and rice, coleslaw and a big buttermilk biscuit. Don’t miss this!

Note: The Symphony references are used because the Roosevelt Hotel is across the street from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orpheum Theater. It’s good for a bite before or after any LPO performance. The Fountain Lounge may become an alternative to reliable Domenica, which until now sat nearly alone in the theater neighborhood.

Fountain Lounge. CBD: 123 Baronne, Roosevelt Hotel. 504-648-1200.

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Stuffed Chicken With Black Bean Sauce

The black beans give this a great color contrast with the white chicken. It’s a Southwestern taste, and makes a terrific summertime dinner entree. It’s better served warm, rather than hot off the stove.

  • Sauce:
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. chopped onion
  • 2 Tbs. chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup black beans, washed and soaked overnight
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 mirliton, cooked and chopped
  • 3 yellow squashes, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 lb. Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 6 boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and flattened
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Garnish:
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • 2 oz. Mexican queso fresco or queso blanco, crumbled (or ricotta salata)

1. Make the sauce first. Cook all the vegetables except the beans in the olive oil until they’re tender. Add the beans, salt, and enough water to cover by about an inch. Simmer until the beans are tender–about two hours.

2. When the beans are tender enough to squash with thumb and forefinger, add the sherry. Then puree the mixture in a blender. Add a little water if necessary to give the beans a sauce consistency. Keep warm.

3. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the butter until bubbling and add shallots, garlic, mirliton, squash, and Creole seasoning. Cook until the vegetables soften. Cool to lukewarm, then add the cheese.

4. Place one-sixth of the stuffing atop a pounded chicken breast. Roll it up and secure with a toothpick.

5. Combine the salt and pepper with the flour. Dust the chicken rolls with the seasoned flour.

6. Heat about a quarter-inch of oil in a heavy skillet until it shimmers. Fry the chicken rolls, turning every thirty seconds or so, until browned and the inside is hot.

7. Allow the rolls to cool for about five minutes. Slice the rolls on an angle into three or four slices.

8. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the black bean sauce onto warmed plates. Top with the chicken rolls. Garnish with the green onions, cilantro, and crumbled cheese.

Serves six.

AlmanacSquare June 13, 2017

Days Until. . .

Father’s Day 4

Today’s Flavor

It’s National Lobster Day. Summer is a peak time for lobster, one of the great American delicacies. Its flavor is subtle, and sauces shouldn’t be overpowering. Creamy and buttery sauces seem best. Even the way it’s cooked has to be simple. Every now and then some bright boy will boil a lobster in crab boil, thereby ruining a lobster. In fact, the flavor of lobster may be too subtle. For me, the best lobster dish of all is not a boiled whole lobster, but lobster bisque, which concentrates the flavors.

Lobster inspires a special occasion the way Champagne does. Put it on the table and the meal becomes extraordinary. The only challenge is to get the shell off. It’s not hard to learn, so don’t do yourself the disservice of ordering a lobster with the shell removed. Unless you like cold lobster. Lobsters are a local product, its home being the North Atlantic. Since lobsters taste less good the longer they’re out of the sea, the most important consideration is to go to a store or restaurant that sells so many lobsters that they’re not around long. Tough lobsters spent too much time in the tank.

Several crustaceans bear the lobster name, but true lobsters are of the genus homarus. The Maine lobster is the outstanding species. Rock lobsters from Australia and South Africa also have panache, but they’re less good and usually more expensive. The spiny lobsters of the Caribbean have nowhere near the same complexity of flavor, and aren’t true lobsters.

Edible Dictionary

Worcestershire sauce, [WOOS-ter-sheer], n.A brown sauce of moderate thickness, used to flavor sauces, soups, and many other dishes in the English-speaking world. Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins created it for Lord Marcus Stanley, who had just returned to England after many years in India. He wanted a duplicate of the sauce he’d become addicted to there. That was probably Southeast Asian fish sauce, to which Worcestershire is somewhat similar. The pharmacists concocted the sauce from fermented anchovies, tamarinds, molasses, vinegar, garlic, chili peppers, cloves, and a few other things. The first attempt tasted horrible. They left it in a barrel in their basement and forgot about it for two years. When they found it again, they discovered that it had aged into something rather good. The sauce was named for Lea and Perrins and for their hometown, Worcester.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Biscuit Hill is a small mesa standing about a hundred feet above the desert floor in western Arizona. It’s 102 miles west of Flagstaff, and about the same distance southwest of the Grand Canyon. Its name is easy to figure: it looks like a big buttermilk biscuit out there in the parched landscape. A stream from the mountains a couple of miles east keeps enough water in Biscuit Hill Tank for the stock. Its a twenty-nine-mile drive to Seligman on I-40, where the nearest restaurant–The OK Saloon and Route 66 Roadkill Cafe–will be found.

Food Through History

On this date in 1789, Mrs. Alexander Hamilton served ice cream at a dinner attended by George Washington. It was the first President’s first taste of the treat. Oddly enough, the flavor may have been cherry vanilla.

Annals Of Talking

On this date in 1935, Huey Long ended a fifteen-hour speech in a filibuster on the Senate floor. His speech is the longest in the history of the Senate; it ran to 150,000 words. Coincidentally, the longest speech in a restaurant may have occurred on this date in 1976, when Nigel Hackle, a waiter at the long-gone Winston’s restaurant, spent an hour and fifty-three minutes giving the verbal menu presentation. Winston’s had no printed menu, and so Nigel had to read it again and again to a couple that couldn’t understand English well.

Annals Of Overeating

General Winfield Scott, one of the greatest military minds of the early United States, was born today in 1786. By the time of the Civil War, he’d become so fatthat he had to be lifted onto a horse with a crane. It was his idea to blockade New Orleans and take control of the Mississippi River early in the war.

Deft Dining Rule #252

If you think you will order more than two glasses of wine with dinner for your table, order a whole bottle. It’s cheaper than by the glass, and the wine will be fresher. Exception: When the restaurant has a wine-pairing package with dinner.

Culinary Corruption

Today in 2005, Leonard Pickell–formerly the president of the James Beard Foundation–was convicted of having siphoned off over a million dollars of the Foundation’s money. The James Beard organization is a non-profit fund that raises money for culinary education, among other things. James Beard, you probably know, was a major writer on American food in the mid-to-late 1900s.

Physiology Of Eating

Today in 2004, a USDA study was released that showed that a quarter-teaspoon of cinnamon–about the amount in a good slab of bread pudding–reduces blood glucose, cholesterol, and fat levels by about thirty percent. I’d guess that’s about the same amount that would be restored by a good slab of bread pudding.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

To keep healthy and maintain a normal weight, only eat foods whose calorie content is equaled by the number of calories it takes to cook and eat them. Boiled crabs, for example. Or lobster, without the butter. Or oysters you have to shuck yourself.

The Saints

This is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, who is usually depicted with docile animals. Aside from that identification, he is also thought of as the saint whose intercession is prayed for when one is starving. He died on this date in 1231, and was canonized a year later.

Food Namesakes

Actor Basil Rathbone–whose name sounds like a rare double food name, but isn’t–was born today in 1892. He played Sherlock Holmes in the movies. . . Don “Sugarcane” Harris, a superb violinist who played jazz and blues, was born today in 1939. . . Bruno Frank, an author, poet, and screenwriter, was born today in 1878. . . Today in 1912, Albert Berry became the first man ever to jump out of an airplane with a parachute. (He had the parachute, not the plane.). . . Hamish Pepper, a yachtsman for New Zealand in the 1996 Olympics, was born today in 1971. . . Australian classical composer Nigel Butterley was born today in 1935.

Words To Eat By

“My fare is really sumptuous this evening; buffalo’s humps, tongues and marrowbones, fine trout parched meal pepper and salt, and a good appetite; the last is not considered the least of the luxuries.”–Journals of Lewis and Clark, Thursday, June 13, 1805.

“‘His mother worked in a factory, and his father was a cop. He probably wouldn’t know a dinner fork from a pitchfork,’ Lauren said. Jesse grunted. ‘Might make for an interesting dinner companion.'”–Lynda J. Coble, American novelist, born today in 1953.

Words To Drink By

“Vinum bonum laetificat cor hominis.” (Wine makes the heart of man glad.)–Psalms 104:15.

FoodFunniesSquare

Police Training, Chapter 1.1.

You have to know the basics if you want to move on to more important matters. It’s also encouraging that almost nobody flunks this test. So, now then: Maple or creme-filled?

Click here for the cartoon.

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