The holiday season in New Orleans is a beautiful time, but the best part is hands down the food. Growing up here, I've come to associate the season with a few staple dishes that my family's menu would be incomplete without. Come to find out, I'm not the only one. Here's a list of the seven recipes famous on Christmas and Thanksgiving tables across New Orleans, ranked in order of my affinity for them. Subscribe to our THIRTY NINETY LIVING email updates for more New Orleans inspired holiday posts!
PS - if you're just looking for some New Orleans Thanksgiving recipes or Christmas recipes, have no fear - we've done the heavy lifting and shared some links below!
7. FROZEN NEW ORLEANS CAJUN EGGNOG
Look, don't @ me for the #7 ranking - egg nog is weird, at least it made the list. Eggnog has a nation-wide holiday vibe, but this variety from Nola.com seems passable because it's frozen and is close enough to a daiquiri I just decide to not ask questions about.
6. DIRTY RICE
Dirty rice is the Louisiana side dish that just keeps on giving. This traditional creole dish is a holiday staple along side any cajun turkey or glazed ham. Known for it's unforgettable name, the white rice turns "dirty" after soaking up all the meaty goodness left in the pot.
Theres nothing like a soft little bell pepper wilted by the oven's rays and filled with cheesy meaty goodness. The holidays are really just prime time stuffing season - making this the optimal time to shove some delicious rice blend into this hero of the cajun holy trinity.
4. NEW ORLEANS OYSTER DRESSING
I take your delicious ass bread crumbs and raise you an oyster. This invention is the pinnacle of all things oyster. Don't even pretend it's the holiday season if this isn't on the table - I won't be here for it in the least.
3. SHRIMP AND MIRLITON CASEROLE
Nevermind, that everyone in this magical city calls it a "MEL-AH-TON" and that I had no idea that it was spelled "MERL-AH-TON" until right now. This weird little green squash creates all that is good and holy on our holiday table. Is it possible to eat a Mirliton when it's not Thanksgiving or Christmas? Don't answer that - I don't want to know.
Get out of my face with your turkey and ham. THIS IS THE ONLY MAIN DISH WORTH MY TIME. Plus, get real - anything with a little crab claw in it just screams "festive."
NUMBER 1 - PRALINES
Let's be real - making good pralines takes extreme patience and talent. First of all, the humidity has to be perfect for them to set right. Second of all, you have to have some semblance of an idea of how to even get started. Taking gritty sugar and turning it into a creamy melt in your mouth wafer of southern charm is damn near the closest to sainthood you can get in my book. Despite this evident uphill battle, holiday after holiday, Maw-Maw shows these treats who's boss. Now, let's be real, I'd eat a praline every day for breakfast if my body allowed it. Limiting myself to the special Thanksgiving and Christmas stash is a personal decision but hey, it's how I choose this sweet, sweet Louisiana life.
Did I miss any of your Nola holiday must haves? Drop a note in the comments below.
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