The French Press Cajun Benedict

This past week I spent time in Lafayette, Louisiana tasting my way through what Southern Living readers awarded “The Tastiest Town in the South 2012”, and Livibilty named “Top 10 Foodie Cities in 2013.” On a breakfast tour I was introduced to The French Press, an upscale bistro in a historic building offering Louisiana classics…reinvented. I began the morning with Cajun Benedict, an incredibly creative dish packed with a powerful combination of smoky flavors. Chef Justin Girouard, owner of the French Press restaurant and twice nominated for James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef South”, replaces typical Canadian bacon and hollandaise with boudin and gumbo in this bayou twist on the classic Benedict. He says, “Boudin is for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. We are staying true to the kind of food people like to eat when they get together with their family.” The French Press serves food for the soul and artistic dinners on the weekends where Girouard, a Lafayette native, showcases the skills he honed while at Stella in New Orleans and in the South of France. Another nomination for breakfast? Try the Sweet Baby Breesus (buttermilk biscuit slider with bacon, fried boudin balls, and Steen’s cane syrup from Abbeville).

The French Press Interior

The French Press offers breakfast and lunch from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Dinner is  from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m, Friday and Saturday. The French Press is located at 214 E. Vermillion Street, phone (337) 233- 9449.

Cajun Benedict (photo: Chris Granger) first appeared in Saveur’s Jan/Feb 2013 issue along with an article on Lafayette, Louisiana’s The French Press, read it here.

Cajun Benedict

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 cup canola oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ lb. andouille sausage links, quartered lengthwise and sliced ¼” thick crosswise
¾ cup flour
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp. gumbo filé
1 tsp. cayenne
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco, plus more for serving
4 cups chicken stock
8 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped, plus more for garnish
1 lb. raw pork boudin sausage, casings removed, formed into six 3″ patties (available from cajungrocer.com)
½ small loaf soft French bread, cut crosswise into six 1½” slices
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
6 slices American cheese
6 poached eggs

Preparation:

1. Heat oven to 400°. Heat ¼ cup oil in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add chicken to pot; cook, turning once, until browned and almost cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add andouille to pot and cook, stirring, until browned, about 4 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken.

2. Add remaining oil to pot, and reduce heat to medium-low; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, to form a dark brown roux, about 20 minutes. Add garlic, onions, peppers, and celery; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add filé, cayenne, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Chop reserved chicken into ½” pieces, and add to pot along with andouille and stock; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until gumbo is thickened, about 1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in scallions; keep warm.

3. Heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add boudin patties; cook, flipping once until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes; keep warm. Brush bread slices with butter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place in oven and cook until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Place 1 slice cheese on each bread slice and continue to cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute more. Divide bread between 6 shallow bowls, top with boudin patties and poached eggs, and ladle gumbo over top. Garnish with scallions and serve with hot sauce on the side, if you like.

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