Mardi Gras! Eggplant Bayou Teche


A pirate’s got to be flexible, change course with the wind, heave to and regroup. And that’s what we had to do this Mardi Gras season. Typically Louisiana-based Kristin would hold the Mardi Gras feast, to no one’s surprise. But her SV Upward Wing is on the hard. Unfortunately so is my SV Night Town here in Annapolis. So we had no choice but to board a friend’s boat, take over the galley and throw a Mardi Gras celebration in true pirate fashion! Our friend Jen, on SV Sea Cooper, was the victim. She’s a gracious hostess living on a cozy, well-decorated Erwin, and makes a knock-you-mask-off Sazerac! It was a perfect night!

This is a classic Paul Prudhomme recipe. Classic in the sense that it is three pages long. This isn’t something you whip up for a quick meal after a long sail. Nor do you prepare this under way. This is an “at anchor or at the dock” meal shared with your favorite guests when you have lots of time.

Eggplant Bayou Teche

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Seasoning mix:
1 tablespoon+ salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
(preferably cayenne)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil leaves

Vegetable Mix (the Holy Trinity)
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour, in all
1 1/2 cups Basic Seafood Stock

For the eggplant and seafood
3 medium sized eggplants
3/4 cup very fine dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup milk
2 small eggs or 1 large egg
Vegetable oil for frying
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, in all
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely
chopped green onions, in all
1 clove minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds peeled medium shrimp
1 tablespoon Pernod

First mix all dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. You may sneeze. That’s expected.

Next peel the three eggplants, cut them in half and scoop out the middle so that you’ve created little “boats”, known as “pirogues” in Louisiana. Their “hulls” should be about 1/4″-1/2″ thick. You will end up with 6 pirogues. Carefully stack them and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and set aside.

Chop all the vegetables and set aside as well. Now make the roux. In a large skillet heat the 1/4 cup oil over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the flour, whisking constantly until smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the roux is medium brown, about 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in the reserved vegetable mixture and 1 1/2 teaspoons of
 the seasoning mix until well mixed.

In a 1-quart saucepan bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Gradually add the roux mixture, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Cook about 
5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. The next task is to strain this liquid into a bowl, and discard the vegetables. They are only used for seasoning. Well, we didn’t have a strainer on board, and sailors don’t typically like to throw out anything, much less food, so I kept the veggies in this evening. Another change to Paul Prudhomme’s recipe is that his next step is to fry the eggplants and set aside. I like the eggplants to be as crispy as possible when served so I fry them last. Apologies Paul, God rest your soul.

Returning back to the skillet you made your roux in,  melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Turn heat to high. Stir in the crabmeat, 1/4 cup of the green onions, the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the seasoning mix. Continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

In the same skillet melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over a medium
 flame. Add the shrimp, the remaining 2 tablespoons green onions and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix. Cook about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the Pernod and 1/2 cup of the strained sauce. Cook until shrimp are plump and pink, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Now for the eggplants. Set up your “breading station”. A bowl of seasoned flour, a bowl of egg/milk beaten together and a bowl of bread crumbs. Sprinkle each eggplant pirogue evenly with a teaspoon
 of the seasoning mix, patting in it by hand. Just before frying, dredge the pirogues on both sides in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess; coat with 
the milk mixture and then dredge in the seasoned bread crumbs. Fry in the 
hot oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Be sure you don’t run out of compressed gas or propane during this procedure, as we did. I watched the sizzling of the eggplants roll back to a low bubble when I thought I’d best check the flame. Jen and Alex got tanks switched within a few minutes so no harm done.

Place one eggplant pirogue on each plate. Top with crab meat and smother with the creole shrimp sauce. Then sprinkle with scallions and serve.

I made Jen and Taylor stop in mid-bite so I could take their picture. They have that ‘get this over with” look on their faces. (that all changed once the Sazeracs came out!)

We realized we pirated the right boat when Jen brought out a large assortment of bitters…and a cocktail shaker! I had brought the Rye and the Absinthe. It was time for a Sazerac, the quintessential drink of New Orleans. And Jen, a two-generation removed NOLA girl herself makes a perfect Sazerac!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

(the rest of the pics I censored!)

3 thoughts on “Mardi Gras! Eggplant Bayou Teche

  1. Pingback: Galley PiratesStuffed Cabbage Rolls

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