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My Culinary Ode to New Orleans: Creole Burgers with Blackened Crawfish Stuffing, Okra Remoulade, and Mardi Gras Slaw on Gator-Back Buns

In the path of Katrina, the Crescent City was turned upside down last year, leaving the streets of New Orleans scarred with the aftermath of a life-changing storm. Wounded and crippled, but not dead and buried, New Orleans has slowly risen from the rubble and debris that lined the city streets. What better way to honor this culinary capital but to create a burger that blends the core flavors found in the French quarter and throughout the city? Spicy blackened seasoning combines with the smoky flavor of grilling to bring a distinctive taste to the burgers. Crawfish, okra, and the trinity come together in a hand-held tribute to this amazing city. Pure poetry on a bun.


-1 (16 ounce) jar pickled okra, drained (reserve 1-1/2 tablespoons of the liquid), sliced and divided (about 1-1/2 cups sliced okra)
-1 cup mayonnaise
-2 tablspoons Creole mustard
-6 round French bread rolls, split
-2 tablespoons light brown sugar
-4 tablespoons Creole Seasoning, divided (Creole seasoning has salt in it)
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for wiping grill
-2-1/2 cups thinly shredded red cabbage
-1 cup butter (not unsalted)
-3/4 cup finely chopped onion
-3/4 cup finely chopped greeen bell pepper
-3/4 cup finely chopped celery
-1/2 pound crawfish tail meat
-2 tablespoons Backened seasoning
-2 pounds ground chuck
-1 egg, beaten


1. Process 3/4 cup sliced okra in the food processor until finely chopped. Stir together the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Stir in the okra. Refirgerate until needed. 2. Make a cut, all the way across the top of one of the buns, about an 1-inch from the edge with a serrated knife, not cutting more than about 1/8 of an inch into the bun. Make another cut about 1/16 to 2/16 of an inch away from the first cut and parallel to it. Remove the crust between the two cuts with a knife or by pinching out the bread, creating a small groove. Repeat cuts at about 1-inch intervals across the top of the bun. The bun should look like it has lines going across the top. Turn the bun and carefully repeat the cuts going across the first cuts, making a checkered pattern on top of the bun (like alligator skin). Repeat with remaining buns. Set buns aside. 3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1-1/2 tablespoons of the reserved okra liquid, the light brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning. Stream in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, whisking vigorously, until well combined. Add the shredded cabbage and the remaining sliced okra. Toss to coat and refrigerate until needed. 4. Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill. In a medium size cast iron skillet on the grill rack, heat the butter until melted. Pour 3/4 of the butter into a small measuring cup and set aside. To the remaining butter in the skillet, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook until vegetables are soft. Remove half the vegetable mixture with a slotted spoon into a large mixing bowl and set aside. Add the crawfish tails to the vegetable mixture in the skillet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons blackened seasoning. Cook until crawfish is done and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 5. Place the ground chuck in the large mixing bowl with the reserved vegetable mixture and sprinkle with 3 tablspoons of the Creole seasoning. Add the beaten egg and gently mix together, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into 12 patties. Lay six of the patties on wax paper on a cookie sheet. Top each patty with 1/6 of the crawfish mixture, pressing down slightly. Top with remaining patties, pressing together to seal edges and flattening as much as possible. Keep refrigerated until ready to cook. 6. Wipe grill with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Brush the cut sides and top of buns with butter, especially in the cut grooves. Toast along the outer edges of grill until golden brown around edges, turning over to toast the tops of the buns. Set aside and keep warm. Place patties on grill rack and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side for medium or until desired doneness. 7. To assemble burgers: Spread both cut sides of rolls with with the okra remoulade. Place patties on roll bottoms. Top with Mardi Gras slaw and then the bun tops. Makes 6 burgers.


Note: The Creole and blackened seasoning have quite a bit of salt in it, so there was no need to add extra salt to the meat.