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Food

New Orleans Calling: Born In A Cast Iron Pot

WWOZ’s nationally-syndicated one-hour program New Orleans All The Way Live has been recently renamed and re-imagined in a great new form, with a new name — New Orleans Calling.

Welcome to New Orleans Calling, WWOZ’s nationally syndicated program. New Orleans Calling airs on WWOZ 90.7 FM in New Orleans every Saturday morning from 7 a.m.-8 a.m., and you can also listen online to recent episodes at wwoz.org.

Listen to this week’s episode of New Orleans Calling.

New Orleans is known for its food as much as its music. And the way we approach them is the same — you get a feel for it, you live in the traditions, and you build on them. This week we’re talking to some famous New Orleans cooks, and also a couple musicians who know their way around the kitchen. Classic dishes like etouffee, gumbo, red beans and rice, and pecan pie are living traditions here, just like the music. And like trumpet player Leroy Jones says, when music or food is made with love, you can taste it.

You can listen to New Orleans Calling on WWOZ every Saturday morning from 7-8 a.m., and you can listen online to recent episodes. We hope you enjoy this week’s program, “Born In A Cast Iron Pot.”

Legendary New Orleans trumpeter Leroy Jones shares his recipe for Smothered Okra. (Photo: Derek Bridges)

Trumpet player Leroy Jones is a New Orleans native, playing traditional jazz with Preservation Hall Jazz Band, his Leroy Jones Quintet, and New Orleans Helsinki Connection.

On this week’s program, legendary New  Orleans trumpeter Leroy Jones talked us through his smothered okra, or okra etouffee — including his secret to non-slimy okra. Here’s the recipe, which is also in the WWOZ cookbook, That Sounds Good!

Leroy Jones’ Smothered Okra Recipe

  • 1 pound fresh shrimp
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium to large yellow onion, minced, or 4-5 green onions, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 pound smoked turkey sausage, chopped
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 pound chopped fresh (or frozen) okra
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons gumbo filé
  • Cooked white rice

Peel and de-vein the fresh shrimp, rinsing under running water.

Combine the tomato sauce and water in a large saucepan. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, Creole seasoning, sugar, and sausage. Set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring.

Spray another saucepan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the okra. Heat over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar and mix well. Cook until the okra turns a lighter shade of green, stirring. (This process eliminates 80 percent of the sliminess.)

Add the okra to the vegetable mixture. Simmer over medium heat for 40 minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low. Add the filé and mix well. Add the shrimp and mix well. Let it sit on the heat, uncovered, to thicken.

Serve over boiled or steamed rice. Makes about 6 servings.

Crawfish Étouffée Recipe – The Craig Klein Way

Trombonist Craig Klein, also featured on this program, shared his recipe for Crawfish Étoufee, also in the WWOZ cookbook. Craig Klein co-founded New Orleans brass funk rock band Bonerama in 1998. He currently plays trombone with the New Orleans Night Crawlers. 

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • Flour
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped red and/or green bell pepper
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chicken stock
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and any Louisiana seasoning to taste
  • Dash of sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Chopped garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 pound Louisiana crawfish
  • Hot cooked brown rice

The key to making great étouffée is in the roux and in using Louisiana crawfish. Constant stirring is necessary.

Open one bottle of your favorite wine. Melt the butter in a big heavy stockpot. Add two heaping wooden spoonfuls of flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. It will burn if you don’t watch and stir it. Pour a glass of wine, put on some of your favorite music (preferably WWOZ), and cook the roux to a very dark brown while drinking the wine and stirring. It should be one shade darker than peanut butter.

Add onion, peppers, celery, and tomatoes. Cook until tender. Add the chicken stock gradually. How much you add depends on how thick you want the roux — thin it out or keep it as thick as you like. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, Louisiana seasoning, sugar, and bay leaves. Add a lot of chopped garlic. Let cook for an hour or so over low heat, still drinking and listening to good music on your sound system, and stirring. No in-ear listening, as the food you are cooking needs to be exposed to the music as well, so turn it up. The music, not the fire.

Cook it down, and then when you think it’s ready, cut open the bag of Louisiana crawfish. Add it to the pot without washing. Never wash the crawfish, as you want the fat to be in there — it’s part of the flavor. It’ll lighten up the color some. Since the crawfish are already cooked, you should turn the fire way down. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Let it simmer. Serve over rice. Enjoy with good friends and family.

Both these recipes, and over a hundred more from great New Orleans musicians including Dr John, Irma Thomas, and Kermit Ruffins can be found in That Sounds Good! A Cookbook Celebrating 30 Years of WWOZ. You can get the cookbook in WWOZ’s online Swamp Shop.

THIS WEEK’S TRACK LISTING:

“Mo’ Cream From The Crop” (bed) – Leroy Jones
“I’m Talking About New Orleans” (bed) – Leroy Jones
“The Okra Vendor” – Storyville Stringband
“Shrimp And Gumbo” – Dave Bartholomew
“Chicken Gumbo” (bed) – John Rankin
“Feel Like Going Home” – Bruce ‘Sunpie’ Barnes
“Shortnin’ Bread” – Lee Dorsey
“You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew” (bed) – Fats Waller
“New Orleans Cooking” – Cyril Neville
“Down Home Girl” – Alvin ‘Shine’ Robinson
“Mustard Greens” (bed) – June Gardner
“Mustard Greens” (open bed at half) – June Gardner
“Mama Told Papa” (bed) – Clifton Chenier
“Red Beans” – Snooks Eaglin
“Jambalaya” (On The Bayou) – Fats Domino
“Shake Your Rugalator” (bed) – Craig Klein
“Cabbage Alley” – Bonerama
“Sugar Lips” (bed) – Al Hirt
“Sugar Cane” – The Iguanas
“Soft Shoe” (bed) – Leroy Jones
“I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” – Ruby Moon
“Cassoulet” (closing outro – open bed) – Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown

New Orleans Calling is a production of WWOZ, listener-supported community radio in the Crescent City, with support from NewOrleansOnline.com and GoNOLA.comNew Orleans Calling is an internationally syndicated weekly radio show produced by George Ingmire highlighting the unique music, food, festivals, and culture of the Crescent City. Ingmire culls from WWOZ’s vast library of live recordings and connects with musicians from across the city to bring you one-of-a-kind music and musician interviews — from flagship music festivals to living room concerts.

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