Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, File Gumbo…

photo 2Retired Bourbon House executive chef, Darin Nesbit loves Jazz Fest. It’s actually what hooked him on New Orleans and drove him south from Chicago in the 90’s. During his nearly twenty years working for the Brennan family, he did numerous Jazz Fest cooking demos. One of his personal favorite demos (and ours too), was his tribute to Hank Williams, Sr.  He demoed to the crowd how to make Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie AND File Gumbo. All of it in less than an hour. Quite a feat, and something we recommend you don’t try at home!

Below we’ve provided his recipes for the three dishes. If you can’t make it out to the Festival this year, hopefully cooking up these dishes to the tune of Jambalaya on the Bayou will bring you a bit of cheer. 

Crawfish Pie


2-1/2 c sifted flour
4 oz salted butter, cold, small diced
1 t salt
½ c ice water


4 oz salted buter
¼ c flour
1 c small diced onion
2 t minced garlic
½ c small diced green bell pepper
3 T minced parsley
2 T small diced celery
½ c thinly sliced green onion
1 t salt
¾ t freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t cayenne
¼ c heavy cream
2 T brandy
2 lbs crawfish tails

For the crust, sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and using two knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles pea meal. Add the ice water and work the mixture into a ball with your hands. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 20-30 minutes.

For the filling, in a large heavy skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over low heat. Gradually add the flour and cook slowly, stirring constantly until a very light golden roux begins to form. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper, parsley, celery, and green onions, and continue to cook, still stirring, until the vegetables are very soft. Add the salt, black pepper, cayenne and heavy cream and brandy and cook for 5 minutes blending all ingredients. Add the crawfish tails and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.

To make the pie, on a floured surface, place the ball of refrigerated dough and begin rolling until the dough is 1/8th inch thick. Depending on size of pie you desire, choose a pie pan, lightly dust with flour and cut a piece of dough just large enough to over hang the edge of the pan by ¼ inch. Fill the pie with the crawfish mixture and then cut another circle of dough just enough to cover the top, press the top and overhanging crust together where they overlap, then pinch every half inch or so to form a fluted edge. Cut about 8 slits in the top crust, then bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees F) for 20 to 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove and serve.

Chef note….for home cooks it might be easier to purchase pre-made pie crust or use puff pastry sheets.

Filé Gumbo

1lb green onion sausage, finely diced
2 c diced onion
2/3 c diced bell peppers
½ c thinly sliced green onion
2 T minced parsley
1 T minced garlic
1 fryer chicken, cut into eighths
2 lbs fresh shrimp
2/3 c vegetable oil
2/3 c flour
2 qt cold water/ stock
3-1/2 t salt
1-1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t cayenne
1 t dried thyme
3 bay leaves
3 T filé powder

Heat the oil in a large pot until very hot. Brown the chicken in the oil, turning frequently to ensure even browning. Remove the chicken and finish in a 350 degrees oven. Let cool, pick the meat and reserve. Make the roux by gradually adding the flour, stirring constantly until it becomes the color of milk chocolate. Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, green onion, parsley and garlic, continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water or stock, the chicken meat, and all the seasonings except the filé, mixing gently but thoroughly. Add the rest of the liquid and bring to a boil, simmer for one hour. Add the shrimp and cook about 8 minutes. Stir in the filé powder, let sit for 5 minutes, check seasonings, and serve.

Jambalaya Risotto

2 T vegetable oil
4 c chopped onion, finely diced
2/3 c bell pepper, red, green and yellow, finely diced
1/3 c green onion
1 T minced garlic
2 T minced parsley
1 lb lean pork, finely diced
1 c finely diced baked ham
6 sausage links, Andouille, finely diced
1-1/2 c Arborio rice
3 c beef stock, hot
2 1/2t salt
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
1/8th t cayenne
½ t chili powder
2 bay leaves
¼ t dried thyme
1/8 t ground clove
2 T grated pecorino romano cheese

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the vegetables, parsley, pork and ham, continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about 15-20 minutes or until well browned. Add the sausage and seasonings and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook to coat the rice. Add ½ c of the hot beef stock and stirring frequently until the stock is absorbed into the rice. Repeat, adding ½ c of stock at a time, stirring until completely absorbed. When risotto is desired consistency, add cheese, check seasoning and serve.