Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Focus: Carnival Time at JJ's

Andouille (An-dooo-weeee) Sausage

Williford and Guthrie, making sausage 'ropes'

Recipe Notes

February Focus/Louisiana and New Orleans

Until our grand opening at 2PM last July 4th, this blog was our primary form of electronic communication with our (then potential) customers. At that very moment, things changed dramatically. Our website went live, emails were captured, newsletters were pushed, Instagram and Twitter feeds - rich with visual content  - began to flow, and our Facebook page became our primary form of dialogue. That, and the restaurant of course, where the meaningful discourse really happens and decisions are made instantaneously. In real time, as they say.

As such, seldom do we get a chance to kick back and conjure up things that are ‘blogworthy’. But it is a platform we enjoy, because it gives us an outlet to present appropriate long form content. (Such as what follows) And, with a new location on the horizon, we hope to again photograph and document the design process and the construction of our second location. So, thanks very much to our loyal customers and welcome back, one and all!

This month begins what we hope to be a successful program that allows us to focus our culinary efforts on monthly seasonal offerings. Each month we will choose a different sphere of influence. In February, we have chosen to feature the cuisine of New Orleans and Louisiana.

Louisiana is a melting pot of French, African, American, Spanish, Canadian and German ancestries, yet it has a pure identity all it’s own. At its core are two complementary yet opposing forces, Creole and Cajun cooking. They both are known for iconic dishes like Jambalaya, Etouffe, Gumbo, Beignets, Po’boys and Red Beans that feature ingredients pulled from its immediate environs. Exotic ingredients lurk and splash everywhere like catfish, gator, shrimp, crawfish, oysters and swine. And inside its borders are world class restaurants and the people who make them great. Commanders Palace, K-Paul’s, Lafitte’s Landing, Bayona, Dooky Chase’s, Popeye’s, Mother’s. Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, John Folse, Leah Chase, John Besh, and Susan Spicer. Any many, many others.

Equally inspiring is the rich musical heritage in New Orleans. The confluence of so many cultures in the early 19th century gave birth to the uniquely American musical forms of Jazz, Rhythm and Blues (Which eventually became Rock and Roll), Blues, Zydeco and Funk music, and it is the best place on the planet to see live music. Here’s a short list of the many influential artists that hail from New Orleans: The Meters, Allan Toussaint, The Neville Family, The Marsalis Family, Professor Longhair, The Radiators, Louis Prima, Lee Dorsey, Jelly Roll Morton, Marcia Ball, Marva Wright, Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit, Beau Jacque, Clifton Chenier, Pete Fountain, Anders Osborne, Eric Lindell, Snooks Eaglin, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Dr. John, Little Richard, Dirty Dozen, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

In February, JJ’s Red Hots will pay tribute to both the flavors and sounds of Louisiana and New Orleans. We are really proud of the work being done in the kitchen by Jeremy Guthrie, our Food and Beverage Director and the entire culinary team. Our specials for the month include:

House Smoked Andouille Sausage

Andouille sausage is a 400 year-old peasant sausage from France that made its way through Acadiana to the bayous of Southern Louisiana. Its popularity is due to its bold spiciness, hearty nature, and the fact that is can be used a base for many other dishes.

One of the things we’re most proud of at JJ’s is Jeremy Guthrie’s handcrafted sausage - especially our Andouille. A favorite among us at the shop, it is dense and chewy, with pleasant smoke and a bold kick on the finish. We serve it on a toasted roll with a little slaw and remoulade (Rem-you-lahd), a traditional New Orleans condiment.

Andouille and Chicken Gumbo

This is Jeremy’s wonderful house made roux based gumbo redolent with aromatics, okra, our own hot smoked tasso ham, andouille and chicken. It is served over white rice and garnished with green onions. JJ’s Gumbo is available as a side order for $2.99 or as a part of our Crescent City Combo.

Red Beans and Rice

Our Red Beans will be a based on the traditional ‘washing day’ Red Beans, flavored with house smoked tasso and andouille and a hambone or two. JJ’s will serve this over rice with a little green onions. This rich, creamy side dish is best enjoyed with a little kick of Tabasco. Available as a side order for $1.99 or as a part of our Crescent City Combo.

Pickled Okra

Our famous pickle bar at JJ’s is our version of the Louisiana custom of serving a ‘langiappe’ (lan-yap) with meals – which means ‘a little something extra’. You can enjoy seasonal pickled vegetables year round at JJ’s, but this month, we will be featuring pickled okra alongside our regular offerings.

NOTE: A special thanks for recipe and history notes to Chef John Folse. He is widely known as the preeminent authority on New Orleans cuisine and Cajun cooking and was very kind to lend his ear and his expertise to us during our menu testing for the February promotion. I had the pleasure of listening to one of Chef Folse’s lectures and eating his incredible food a while back and it had a lasting effect on me. The fact that he even returned my call was an honor. For more information on Chef Folse, please visit his terrific website:

For more on New Orleans Cuisine, please visit:

For more on New Orleans Music, please visit:

- Jonathan Luther, February 2013