One day while in New Orleans, we took a great cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. The two and a half hour long classes (ours ran over three) are not hands-on preparing, but they are definitely hands-on eating. Our instructor reminded us a bit of Alton Brown, giving us equal parts cooking demonstration and fun local history lesson.
The first dish was gumbo. I forgot to take a picture of the gumbo itself because I was too busy getting it down my neck. I did get a picture of the roux at different stages, though. Our version used the very dark, highly flavored, chocolate colored roux.
The gumbo itself was really, really good. The protein was andouille sausage with a bit of chicken. The andouille was out of this world - it had an incredible smoky taste that flavored the whole pot of soup. Our instructor explained that it's made by taking smoked ham, turning it into a chunky sausage and then smoking it again. Hopefully we can find a good approximation of real andouille once we're back home.
Next up was the jambalaya, which was also fantastic. It used a smoked sausage that wasn't as flavorful as the andouille, but was still very good. Most jambalayas we've had have used tomato in the base. This one didn't, and we really liked it this way.
Dessert was two courses. We started with a "Piña Colada" bread pudding with "Hard Sauce". The pudding had pineapple and coconut in it, and the sauce was made using rum. What's not to like?
And finally, pecan pralines. Even though I'm not much of a candy person I still really liked these.
Along with the meal they offered locally brewed Abita Amber Ale and Root beer. All and all, well worth the $27 they charge ($3 less if you have a coupon - look in the local tourist rags). It's easy to spend that just on lunch in New Orleans, and you probably wouldn't eat as well or have as much fun.
The New Orleans School of Cooking
524 St. Louis Street
New Orleans, LA