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The minute the New Orleans Jazz Festival is over, the remembrance of all the food you've just savored leads to the next thought: I bet I could make that at home.Andrew Boyd/The Times-PicayuneFood editor Judy Walker applies Creole mustard to a pork chop sandwich at New Orleans Jazz Fest.2011.
And that's possible, although some of the dishes might be trickier than others.
You have to work the nuances to make a pork chop sandwich taste like the one at the fest.
Just the idea of a bone-in pork chop sandwich baffles some die-hard festival foodies. I have seen Uptown noses instantly pointed in the air at the very mention of it.
The sandwich may not have the rustic cachet of the cochon de lait po-boy or the seafood glamor that is the soft-shell crab po-boy, but the humble creation -- two slices of white bread around a thinly sliced and floured deep-fried chop -- has a devout following.
That would include Richard Isolda, a Philadelphia lawyer who ate five of them during the first three days of the festival.
"On a good day, I skip breakfast and get two of them instead of just one, " Isolda said. "I usually end up at the Jazz and Heritage Stage, right there" where the sandwiches are sold from the booth of Miss Linda's Catering. "If you've got a bad hangover, you can hit that sandwich, and that ya ka mein, old sober is right there. And for dessert the mango freeze. You go two steps and you've got a complete meal at Jazz Fest."
Isolda and his wife are 20-year festival veterans and love New Orleans so much that they have recreated "as much as we could" in their Philadelphia suburb of Riverside, N.J., a house that Isolda photographed on Esplanade Avenue. He has dined around the world, and can talk knowledgeably about most of the food at Jazz Fest.
"We don't get that stuff up here. That's the whole point, " Isolda said in a phone interview after the festival. "It's hard to explain to certain Northerners up here why you would eat a pork chop sandwich with the bone in it. You eat around the thing. You take out the bone, you take out the flavor."
"It's so simple, " said "Treme" actor Steve Zahn as he bit into one on Thursday afternoon of the second fest weekend. "It's really good, " said Nate Lewis of Seattle, as he, too, sampled his first.
The guys were standing next to the booth where Linda Green sold about 4,000 of them during the seven days of the festival. On the counter were condiments in thin-tipped bottles, so customers could apply judicious amounts of mayonnaise, Creole mustard and/or catsup to personal taste.
Inside the booth, a cook tossed the meat in a tub of flour before lowering the chops into the deep fryer, where they tend to twist like thin-cut catfish filets.
"Mine are thin, " Green said. "They're much better fried thin than thick. Thick would still be raw, and I'm not going to kill nobody."
One secret of the sandwich is the seasoning in the flour, Green confirmed.
"You've got to season a pork chop. (Customers) want to taste, " she said. She doesn't season the meat itself. (This year, the sandwiches, and the ya ka mein and bread pudding she sells were all dedicated to a dear friend who worked in Green's booth and died in February, Emanuel "Ricky" Summers, Green noted.)
The portability of the sandwich is part of its appeal. It's inserted into a paper sleeve, neat and tidy to transport and eat with no utensils or even a napkin. Bonus: The bread acts as an insulator to keep the meat inside it warm.
Local food maven and host of WWNO radio program "Louisiana Eats, " Poppy Tooker, has taken to carrying one around in her handbag during the festival.
"They are crazy good, " Tooker said. "And they should be the required breakfast at Tales of the Cocktail because if you're going to have a big day of imbibing, it's the perfect foundation."
Plus, she said, she likes to joke, "If there's a pork chop sandwich in my purse, it must be Jazz Fest!"
Tooker learned this trick from her friend Michelle Nugent, the festival food director.
Nugent thought the festival needed more Louisiana street foods.
"I used to go to some of the zydeco festivals in southwest Louisiana, " Nugent said. "My favorite was the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco festival in Plaisance, and I kind of glommed on to the fact you could get a fried pork chop with the bone in it between two pieces of white bread with a little mayo on it.
"It was heaven because you didn't have to think about it. It was yummy. And I have a thing for bones.
"Several years ago, the people who were (vendors) before Miss Linda were doing a soul food plate. I suggested they do a fried pork-chop sandwich. They thought I was crazy out of my brain. I said, 'Take a leap of faith with me.' And people love it."
When those vendors elected not to return to the festival, Nugent "offered it to Miss Linda because I knew she would do a great job with it."
When Green sees Nugent on a festival morning, she automatically hands over one of the sandwiches.
"One day I was working with one of fellows out here on one of those scary bad weather days, and he said, 'I'm so hungry I can't stand it.'
"I pulled it out. 'As a matter of fact, I have a pork chop sandwich.'"
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To approximate Ms. Linda Green's Pork Chop Sandwich: First, find a butcher to slice (or otherwise procure) thin (about a quarter-inch) bone-in pork chops. Season all-purpose flour with your favorite seasoning mix. Heat oil for deep frying. When oil is hot, carefully lower chops into it. Cook briefly, just until the chops start to twist. Drain well.
Serve one chop between two slices of white bread, with mayonnaise, Creole mustard and catsup on the side.
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This copy-cat version of the festival's beloved Crawfish Bread came to us from a reader in Destrehan several years ago.
It has since become a reader favorite.
Jerry's Crawfish Bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped green onions (tops and bottoms)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
4 toes finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound peeled crawfish tails with fat
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small squares
Seasoning mix to taste (such as Seafood Magic)
1 (11-ounce) roll refrigerated French bread dough
8 ounces shredded "pizza mix" cheese (or mozzarella)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute chopped vegetables in olive oil and butter until wilted. Add crawfish tails with fat and wine; stir well and add cream cheese. Stir until melted. Add seasoning mix and cook until all is thickened, just a few minutes. Remove from heat and let flavors blend.
Carefully roll out French bread dough on a greased baking sheet. Spoon crawfish mixture onto center of dough. Sprinkle on shredded cheese mix. Fold dough over mixture to make a loaf. Cut 2 small slits in dough.
Bake about 20 minutes or until loaf is golden brown. Let set a few minutes and slice into serving-size pieces.
. . . . . . . .Chuck Cook/The Times-Picayune ArchivePrejean's dark Pheasant, Quail and Andouille Gumbo is a Jazz Fest favorite.
The famous pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo is in the cookbook of Prejean's, the restaurant in Lafayette that serves umteen gallons of it at the festival. The recipe says to serve the gumbo over cooked rice with potato salad on the side.
The secret is a really dark roux.
Prejean's Pheasant, Quail and Andouille Gumbo
Makes 5 quarts
1/4 cup corn oil
1/2 pound andouille sausage, sliced in 1/4-inch-thick circles
1/4 pound Cajun smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick circles
3/4 cup coarsely diced onion
1/2 cup coarsely diced bell pepper
1/4 cup finely diced celery
3 boneless quail
2 boneless pheasant breasts
2 tablespoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2-1/2 quarts concentrated chicken stock
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon dark roux
2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
3 dashes Tabasco
3 tablespoons sliced green onion tops
Heat corn oil to hot and maintain heat in an 8-quart cast-iron or other heavy pot over medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet, brown andouille sausage, then add to oil in the cast-iron pot. Repeat process with Cajun sausage, onion, bell pepper and celery, quail and pheasant, sauteing each ingredient individually and transferring each ingredient to the cast-iron pot as it is browned.
Add the paprika, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne and bay leaf to the pot and stir. Mix in stock. Stir in roux until blended. Bring to a boil and cook 40 minutes, stirring attentively.
Add Kitchen Bouquet, Tabasco and green onions and stir well. Simmer 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.
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In 2006, Sheila Owens, who named Rosemint Tea after her mother, shared the recipe for the drink she developed more than two decades ago, one of the signature beverages sold at the Jazz Fest.
It's surprisingly simple. To duplicate Rosemint, steep Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea until it's strong, then add unfiltered Louisiana honey. Owen's ratio is 1 cup of dried tea per 1 gallon of water, plus 1 cup honey. The unfiltered honey, which is darker and more flavorful than regular honey, is the secret ingredient.
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Food editor Judy Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3485.