There’s always a cause for celebration in New Orleans and for the more culinary minded one of the biggest is just on the horizon: the 2010 New Orleans Food and Wine Experience, a four-day festival (held May 26 through May 29) celebrating fine wine and Southern cuisine. Scheduled to speak at this year’s festival (in a Charmed by Charcuterie seminar) is Donald Link, James Beard Award-winning chef and author of Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisana.
A Cajun Country native, Link fondly recalls—and specifically did so at a suckling pig seminar at last year’s New Orleans Food and Wine Experience—boyhood family gatherings at the hog pit. Today he’s channeled that love into Cochon (French for pig), an authentic Cajun restaurant serving up Deep South specialties. Think gumbo, catfish, crawfish pie and (as the name suggests) an array of swine-centered dishes including fried pig’s ears, boudin, pork ribs and, for the more intrepid carnivores among us, head cheese, a meat jelly made from pieces of the head. Link and co-owner Stephen Stryjewski even receive their hogs whole though roasting these days is done in special on-site cookers rather than backyard pits. Though opening Cochon was his ultimate dream, Link also made his mark on the city’s dining scene manning the helm at Creole restaurant Herbsaint and, more recently, Cochon Butcher, an artisanal meat market-cum-wine bar.
If you can’t make it down this year, or just want to get yourself in the Cajun mood, listed below, is Link’s recipe for Pork and Blackeye Gumbo.