There’s no denying New Orleans knows how to throw a party, and this weekend it will be hosting quite the event: Super Bowl XLVII.
If you’re not among people making the journey to the big game, there’s no reason not to bring some Cajun flair to your own party.
Brady Smith, head chef at Bourbon Street Hideaway, 135 W. Columbia St., calls New Orleans cuisine one of the few that is truly American, drawing from a number of cultures that settled in southern Louisiana.
“Since it has the blend of different cultures … you have dishes that are really nice, elegant, more on the French side of things and you can also go po’ boys,” he says. “It’s a representation of life in New Orleans. There’s the higher-class French Quarter life and there’s also the bayou influence.”
Smith drew on the French culture with a Cajun seasoning-infused crab cake for a game day menu and, from the bayou, comes an alligator meatball.
Both dishes feature the “trinity” – celery, onion and bell pepper – which Smith says is key to cooking New Orleans flavors. He serves the alligator meatballs with a crawfish cream sauce as an appetizer special at Bourbon Street Hideaway but recommends a chili aioli (mayonnaise mixed with chili sauce such as sriracha) or Sweet Baby Ray’s chipotle barbecue sauce for game day. A lemon dill aioli would work for both the meatballs and crab cakes.
And the kicker?
“Along with the flavors, you need a good Louisiana hot sauce,” he says with a smile.
1 pound alligator tail meat (available at Kroger Marketplace)
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Crystal hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop up alligator meat, removing any particularly sinewy pieces, then grind in food processor. Transfer meat to a bowl and remove any remaining large pieces of silver skin. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl; mix well. Grind this new mixture in the food processor in small batches. Use ice cream scoop to get even portions and, with hands, roll into balls. Place in metal pan and cover meatballs 3/4 way with hot water. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour, removing foil half way through.
Remove meatballs from water and serve with favorite hot sauce.
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound claw crab meat
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
Heat a small pan over medium low heat; add butter and vegetables. When veggies are crisp tender, add parsley and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add mixture to cream cheese, combining until cheese is well blended. Add remaining ingredients, except crab and breadcrumbs; mix well. Pick through crab to remove any bits of shell. Fold crab into mixture, then breadcrumbs.
Form into cakes and cook in an oiled skillet over medium heat, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until browned.