New Orleans is one of the culinary capitals of the US. Traditional New Orleans Fare is loved by more than just locals. Close your eyes and imagine sitting at a white-tablecloth clad table with a plate of blackened redfish, or sitting at a bistro table in a French courtyard sipping spicy gumbo, or outside on a patio table covered in powdered sugar enjoying a beignet and café au lait. Now open your eyes. Is your mouth watering? Did you picture yourself in the French Quarter, or on Magazine Street? New Orleans is unified by its love affair with it’s unique, and traditional fare. These traditional dishes are great additions to any Catering Menu for a special event or party. Here are Messina’s Catering and Events’ favorites to serve at catering events!
What is New Orleans Cuisine and How Do I add it to my Catering Menu
The cuisine of New Orleans is heavily influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine and soul food. Seafood plays a prominent role in many recipes. These dishes can be incorporated into any Catering Menu event, which will delight your guests with a true and traditional taste of NOLA. Below are some of the most famous New Orleans dishes and how you can incorporate them into your event planning!
Oysters on the half shell are not unique to New Orleans. However, oysters baked in a shrimp sauce is! Ingredients include shrimp, mushrooms, bell peppers, sherry, a roux with butter, parmesan cheese and other lighter cheeses and bread crumbs. The result, is pure delicious! Even those who don’t like raw oysters tend to love this dish. Oysters Bienville are a great addition to a buffet station as the smell of the seafood and cheese is enticing!
These delicious sandwiches were invented to feed streetcar workers who went on strike in 1929…hence the name. The most traditional filling is fried seafood such as shrimp and oysters, but can also be stuffed with roast beef. The most common Po’Boys come dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise and sometimes onions. Po’Boys can be served as a make-your-own station, or they can be done as an action station with a chef frying up oysters and shrimp to order.
French immigrants made up New Orleans’ first European settlers. They brought with them the beignet. These light, puffy pastries consist of a fried fritter of yeasted dough, dusted with powdered sugar. The pastries are best eaten fresh with a cup of chicory coffee and a cafe au lait, reminiscent of the infamous Café Du Monde. Keep the powdered sugar mess to a minimum at your event by making them bite sized and pairing them with a shot of hot café au lait.
This is another New Orleans dish that had humble beginnings with working-class immigrants. The sandwich starts with a round sesame loaf of bread that’s stuffed with salami, ham, mortadella, provolone, mozzarella and an olive salad. The combination, is absolutely delicious! Muffuletta’s make a great grab-and-go option for Catering Menu events. They can be served hot or cold. Sandwiches can be pre-made and cut into miniatures allowing guests to grab what they want and enjoy! These make for great boxed lunches, or lunchtime events.
Red Beans and Rice
This dish was famously served on Monday nights, using leftover pork bones from Sunday night’s dinner. The dish is not served the same way in any home or restaurant across the region. Popular variations include smoked sausage and ham. Red beans and rice are a great way to serve a crowd, as it’s an inexpensive dish to make, and it can sit well for events that last several hours such as festivals and celebrations.
A true Creole classic, gumbo is considered by some as it’s own food group. This stew is often made of okra, celery, bell peppers, onions chicken, cured pork or seafood and rice. The okra helps to thicken the sauce, as well as a roux. Much like Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo’s variations are limitless. The only common denominator is its savory seasonings that deliver a kick. Gumbo is served over rice. But be sure to serve the rice separate! In Louisiana gumbos, rice functions more as a garnish than a starchy pillar of the meal. Serve the rice to the side so guests can add it just before serving.
Pecan trees are easily grown in the south, making them readily available. Pralines are a classic candy made with brown and white sugar, butter, cream and pecans. They are typically formed into small patties, and have a distinctive crunch and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Pralines make a great favor for guests to take home with them and snack on. Be sure to package them up with a custom label before sending them out!
This amazing, and interactive dessert, is made from a sauce of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum and banana liqueur. The sauce is served as a flambé and lit on fire, before being poured over cold vanilla ice cream and sliced bananas. It was made famous at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans. This dish is a fantastic addition to any Catering Menu event. Imagine, the smell of brown sugar, cinnamon, bananas and butter wafting through the event, and guests watch as the chef pours rum and liqueur into the sauce and lights it on fire! It’s definitively an event that will bring out the cell phones for photos!
Most people know Paul Prudhomme, one of New Orleans’s most famous chefs. He helped to introduce New Orleans cuisine to the rest of America. Blacked redfish was made famous by him. The dish takes filets of redfish, dips them in melted butter, dredges them in a spice mixture and pan fries them in a hot skillet. The result is a dark blackened crust in the redfish. Blackened redfish makes a great plated entrée, and gives guests a true taste of New Orleans cuisine.
New Orleans BBS shrimp is not what most people would expect. There is no BBQ sauce. It’s not cooked over an open flame. This dish gets its name from the spices (namely black pepper) that provide it’s very unique Creole-style flavor….oh and lots of butter. Traditional New Orleans BBQ shrimp is best served with crusty bread to sop up the juices! New Orleans BBQ shrimp makes a great appetizer! Serve it family style, or in individual portions for a plated meal. Be sure to combine it with good crusty bread!
Whichever of the items above you decide to serve, guests will love having a taste of New Orleans at your event! In order to get the best caterer, choose one that’s experienced in providing this specialty fare. Messina’s Catering and Events has been cooking up traditional New Orleans fare for 58 years. Check out our menus for more ideas of traditional New Orleans fare. Visit our blog for more catering trends and ideas.