Recipes: Go NOLA! The Art of Creole and Cajun Cuisine

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Joey's Mama's Shrimp, Grits and Catfish Dish, from Chef Joey Mills, Roux on Orleans, New Orleans

Go NOLA: A Top Chef’s Recipe for Traditional Shrimp And Grits!

Joey Wells is the executive chef behind the Creole cuisine – with a hint of Cajun, too – at Roux on Orleans in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orlean’s French Quarter.

“My grandma taught me about Cajun comfort food,” he says, and also the not-so-old-fashioned notion that nothing should be wasted. “Take Oysters Rockefeller, for example,” he grins. “That all started with leftover creamed spinach!”

Of course, Wells can’t take credit for the Oysters Rockefeller creation – that goes to another NOLA dining institution, Antoine’s, but the idea that it’s all good in the Jambalaya is ingrained in his cooking ethos. Secondly, there’s his mom. “She inspired me, to get educated, and to follow my passion.”

Well, we couldn’t resist asking Joey for the dish he’s best known for among Louisianians. Click through below to get his recipe, plus a little bonus of a classic New Orleans cocktail. As they say in NOLA, let the good times roll.

Joey’s Mama’s Shrimp, Grits and Catfish Dish

From Roux on Orleans, in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, New Orleans


6 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups chopped onions

2 cups chopped green bell peppers

2 cups chopped celery

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp blackening (recipe follows)

4 cups seafood stock

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion tops, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter set over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Cook over medium heat until it is a little darker than the color of peanut butter, about 8 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic; cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cayenne and 1 tbsp of the blackening seasoning. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes; whisk in seafood stock. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season with remaining tablespoon of blackening seasoning.

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large shrimp, size 16/20 or larger. 16/20 simply means there are 16–20 shrimp per pound.

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

In non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked through. Add parsley and stir to combine.

5-7 oz catfish filet
egg wash
Seasoned fish fry (This is a Louisiana household staple for breading and seasoning fried fish; a blend of corn meal, corn flour, garlic, salt and other spices traditionally used as a total seasoning for your favourite fish, oysters, shrimp, meat or vegetables. If you can’t find it pre-packaged under the Louisiana Fish Fry label at your grocery store, look for McCormick’s Fish Fry Seafood Fry Mix or Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Seasoned Fish Fri, in the same section you’d find Shake ‘n Bake.)

Cut filet on an angle into 4 strips. Batter fish in egg wash and dredge in fish fry. Deep fry at 350 F for about 5 minutes or until fish floats.

Corn Grits
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup corn grits
1 cup roasted corn, onions and peppers
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In 2-quart sauce pot, bring chicken stock and cream to a boil. Reduce heat and add grits, corn, onions, peppers, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for another 5 minutes.

Blackening Seasoning
2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp brown sugar

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

To Assemble

Ingredients: thyme and green onions for garnish

Method: In the centre of a bowl, place 4 ounces of the corn grits. Around the grits place 5 ounces of sauce. Place the catfish on top of the grits in a tic-tac-toe fashion. Place the blackened shrimp on top of the fried catfish and garnish with thyme and green onions (as in the photo, above).

An iconic cocktail: The Ramos Gin Fizz

Ms. Cheryl Charming, bar mistress of the Bourbon O Bar at the Bourbon Orleans hotel, recently brought back the Ramos Gin Fizz to her historic New Orleans cocktails menu. Henry Carl Ramos originated the cool and frothy drink that appealed to both men and women in 1887 at his Imperial Cabinet Saloon in downtown New Orleans.

For 33 years, the recipe remained secret until, according to history, “on the verge of prohibition, Ramos published his recipe in a New Orleans paper, thinking it would never be served again after Prohibition began.”

Up until that time, say the proprietors of New Orleans Hotel Collection, of which the Bourbon Orleans hotel is a member, Henry Ramos, whose friends knew him as Carl employed a line of “shaker boys” who would shake the special drink for two minutes each, then pass it along the line until it was shaken for a minimum of six minutes and as many as 12. Over 33 years, it’s said Carl served up as many as 5,000 of the frothy drinks each week.

“Now, 96 years later, the Bourbon O Bar has brought the return of the fully shaken drink that Ramos perfected by importing a specialty gin fizz shaker. The double-barrelled shaking machine replaces the line of shaker boys and whips up a frothy mix that holds to the six- to 12-minute shakes that were Henry Ramos’ trademark.

In case you’ve managed your line of shaker boys, here’s how Ms. Charming mixes it up at the Bourbon O.

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: highball

1-1/2 oz gin
1 tbsp simple syrup (1:1)
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 fresh egg white
1 oz whipping cream
1 oz club soda, chilled
3 drops orange flower water
Orange peel for garnish

In a shaker, combine gin, syrup, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white and cream. Shake vigorously to combine. Add ice to shaker and shake again for 6 to 12 minutes. Strain into a glass, top with club soda and flower water. Stir and garnish with orange peel.

Editors’ Tip: For historic cocktail lovers, The Bourbon O Bar specializes in historic New Orleans cocktails, such as the Sazerac, Mint Julep, Ramos Gin Fizz, Pimm’s Cup, Brandy Milk Punch and others. Entertainment by blues singer Eudora Evans graces the bar on Wednesday to Saturday nights from 8 p.m.