“Buttermilk & Bourbon: New Orleans Recipes with a Modern Flair” by Jason Santos, Page Street Publishing Co., 192 pages, paperback, $21.99
Louisiana natives tend to approach out-of-state restaurants touting their authentic Louisiana-style food with trepidation, but Boston chef Jason Santos believes he has captured the spirit of New Orleans’ cuisine at his restaurant, Buttermilk & Bourbon.
Santos’ wife surprised him with a birthday trip to New Orleans a few years ago, and “it literally changed my life,” he writes in his first cookbook, “Buttermilk & Bourbon: New Orleans Recipes with a Modern Flair.”
“I love everything about New Orleans: the food, the people and the passion! It was that trip — and the many, many return trips — that led me to open my passion project, Buttermilk & Bourbon,” he says.
He believes his Boston restaurant has been successful because the food “is both authentic in flavor and also prepared in inventive, surprising ways.”
Santos, a runner-up on Fox reality series "Hell’s Kitchen" and one of the experts appearing on Paramount's "Bar Rescue," does indeed take surprising twists with both New Orleans and classic Southern dishes. For example, the No. 1 selling dish in the restaurant is Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Mac & Cheese, made with spicy cheese puffs, diced meat scraps like andouille or bacon, white wine, lots of cheese and cream.
He shares that recipe, along with his restaurant’s other signature recipes, in the book’s first chapter. Among them are Literally the Best Fried Chicken Wings in the History of Chicken with his Buttermilk Marinade and Signature Fry Dredge (using masa flour) that can be served with four different sauces; Buttermilk & Bourbon’s Honey-Glazed Biscuits; Chicken & Waffle Tacos; Pork Belly Cracklings with Cheddar Salt; New Orleans BBQ Shrimp with Jalapeño Grits; and 10-Way Cut Nashville Fried Chicken.
Another chapter sure to entice readers is the “adult beverages” chapter with its take on creative cocktails with New Orleans-themed monikers like Garden District and The Marie Laveau.
The cookbook, illustrated with full-color photographs, isn’t for those wanting traditional, classic New Orleans recipes. However, fans of Santos’ restaurant or anyone looking for a fun collection of big-flavor, Southern-inspired recipes will like this book.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.