Happy Birthday to me – now let’s eat!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2011

I wanted to go to Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge for my birthday in July. We like it even though it is different than New Orleans. But I found out they had closed – maybe to reopen in a new location? OK then, I’ll just go on down to New Orleans, only to find out they were closed as well, for a July vacation. I did have a great birthday at Le Foret, a relatively new restaurant in NOLA.

But I recently got my Galatoire’s fix and had my favorites, Oysters in Brochette and Soft Shell Crabs. I have often had the crabs fried, but this time decided to have them with sauce Meunière with lemon and capers. And I had them as Galatoire’s often prepares them, with lump crab meat on top.

Galatoire’s is one of New Orleans’ most cherished restaurants. Jean Galatoire, born in Pau, France, struck out on his own to make his fortune in America. He first settled in Birmingham, where he owned a small inn and restaurant. irmingham today has one of my favorite restaurants, Frank Stitt’s Highlands Bar and Grill. But New Orleans got Galatoire’s.

We had our lunch with one of our sons. Neither of our two favorite waiters was there so we told the maître d’ to choose one for us. Katherine had only been there three months, but we will remember her. While we had our favorite cocktail, the Sazerac, she brought us menus. We hadn’t had a menu in ages. Our son had read somewhere that Galatoire’s had some of the best fried chicken in New Orleans. It’s not on the menu, but he ordered it (It is available to those in the know) and after tasting it, “It’s up there!”

I went with my old favorites.

From Leon Galatoire’s Cookbook

Soft-shell Crabs

Sauce Meunière

Serves 4

½ cup clarified butter

½ cup Meunière Sauce (given below)

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1 lemon (cut into wedges)

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Clean the crabs by removing gills on the sides of each crab. Also, move the flap located on the underbellies. Lightly flour each crab on a baking sheet

Heat equal amounts of butter in two large sauté pans. Place the crabs belly up in the pans (4 to each pan). Sauté for 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned.

Remove from pans and place belly up, facing opposite directions on each serving plate. Top with 1 tablespoon Meunière Sauce on each crab. Garnish with lemon wedge and a pinch of finely chopped parsley on each crab. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meunière Sauce

1 lb. butter

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a medium, heavy pot, melt the butter over a medium-low heat setting, constantly stirring with a wire whisk until the butter achieves a dark brown tint. Mix equal portions of vinegar and lemon juice and drip small amounts into the butter while vigorously whisking. Note: The vinegar mixture will cause the butter to rise and foam quickly so it is important to mind your whisk.

Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Warm and mix well before use.

You can add capers to this at the end to make a true lemon and caper sauce. I really liked the capers that the restaurant had added this time.

Oysters en Brochette

Serves 6

18 strips of bacon

36 large oysters

2 cups milk

1 egg

Pinch of salt

1/8 tsp. white pepper

Dash Tabasco sauce

2 cups cooking oil

2 cups flour

3 slices toast, cut in wedges

6 lemon wedges

1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Cut each bacon strip in half. Blanch bacon in boiling water for three minutes. Remove and place on paper towel and pat dry.

Arrange oysters and bacon strips on brochette skewers, alternating one oyster then one bacon strip, etc., with a half-dozen on each skewer.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, egg, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to make a batter and whisk well. Preheat oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat setting. Pour flour into a baking pan with 2-inch sides. Dip the brochettes into the batter to fully cover then dredge into flour. Shake off excess flour and place a few at a time into the frying pan. Allow the brochettes to fry, turning every 2 minutes or so until golden brown.

Transfer to paper towels then to serving places. Garnish with a toast wedge, a lemon wedge, and parsley.