I just received my copy of Lost Restaurants of New Orleans, and the recipes that made them famous, by Peggy Scott Laborde and Tom Fitzmorris. Let me say, I’m having a hard time putting it down! The pictures, the recipes and the historical overviews … it’s an amazing collection of 40 years of dishing and dining in our great City. I’m only 21 turns into it and I’ve already been struck by nostalgia thanks to the pages recalling The Andrew Jackson.
Back in the day (per the book that was 1963-82, although my sister seems to think it was open longer than that), The Andrew Jackson was one of finest French-Creole restaurants in the City. And it just so happened to be owned by “Parran” (or Paran or Parrain) my sister’s godfather, and his family. One year, he invited us to celebrate my sister’s birthday at the restaurant. I think she was turning 11 or 12 which meant I was 10ish and my little brother was 2 1/2 years behind me. That dining experience was a big deal for the three of us. We had to get all dressed up and use our best manners. Aside from the light blue, lace-trimmed, floor-length dress I was wearing, I distinctly remember three things from that special evening: the waiter’s crumb scraper (I thought it was very cool), Parran’s long visits at our table (we loved being around him because he was so funny) and the dreamy food! Yes, the food. It was amazing and I knew it even at that age! My memory is not as vivid when it comes to recalling every last detail of that meal, but I do know I had the escargot appetizer followed by the beef tournedos. My brother had the French Onion Soup as both his appetizer and his dessert (yes, he liked it that much) and the “Entrecote of Chicken Rochambeau Rachel,” or what I simply refer to as Chicken Rochambeau, as his entree. I got the proper name of the dish from a menu that my mother saved and recently handed down to me. I only took a small taste of my brother’s Chicken Rochambeau, but it was enough to keep me oohing and aahing. The chicken was probably roasted, poached or pan-fried and served with broiled ham and two amazingly decadent sauces. Sadly, the restaurant closed it doors several years later and I didn’t think much about Chicken Rochambeau after that. Fast forward about 25 years.
Around the time I was planning the christening party for my first child, I came across a recipe that sounded much like the Chicken Rochambeau I remembered tasting at The Andrew Jackson. I thought it would make a nice buffet item for the party if I could figure out how to fix it without the fuss (since the christening was being held in New Orleans). After fudging around with a couple of ideas, I came up with a plan. I decided to convert this fine dining dish into a fabulous finger food using Chick-fil-A nuggets, which I could buy once I got to town, as my base. I’d cover that with chopped ham and Swiss cheese (I borrowed the Swiss idea from Chicken Cordon Bleu) and finish the dish with the Rochambeau Sauce from the recipe I found and a packet of Bearnaise. It was a long shot. But it worked! The dish was a big hit and I’ve been making it for parties ever since!
Now, after all that yakking, I’m sure you’re ready for a drink! How about trying a Creole Lady this evening? I think bourbon drinks are perfect for cool Finger Food Friday evenings. This one’s not too stuffy and has a neat name. If you guys out there think it’s too frou-frou (which it’s totally not), you can join the hubby with a Miller Lite!
Wait … I think I forgot something! I did! I forgot to mention that my Chicken Rochambeau, Creole Ladies and Miller Lites are all you need for a FAN-tastic football party–as in tomorrow night? The big game? GO TIGERS!!!!!!!! LSU! LSU! LSU!
Until next week …
Chicken Rochambeau Recipe
1 medium tray Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets (120 pieces)
1/2 pound good quality smoked ham, sliced thin and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound sliced Swiss cheese, sliced thin and cut into bite-size pieces
1 0.9-ounce package Bearnaise Sauce
1 stick butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 6-ounce can pineapple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup dry vermouth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken nuggets in a large, shallow baking dish. Layer ham and Swiss cheese over chicken. Make Bearnaise Sauce according to package directions; pour over chicken mixture. Set aside. Prepare the “Rochambeau Sauce” by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture is a caramel color. Slowly whisk in pineapple juice and brown sugar. Increase heat to medium high and whisk constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Remove sauce from the heat and stir in vermouth. Pour Rochambeau Sauce over Bearnaise Sauce. Cover dish and bake until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve with toothpicks. Makes 15 appetizer servings.
Creole Lady Recipe
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 1/2 ounces Madeira
1 teaspoon Grenadine
Pour ingredients into a cocktail glass filled with ice; stir. Enjoy! Makes 1 cocktail.