Emeril Lagasse is one of the most famous chefs in America. He has published several cookbooks, hosted numerous TV shows, and opened 13 restaurants across the country. Emeril is known for his signature catchphrases like “Bam!” and “Kick it up a notch!” He is especially renowned for creole and cajun cuisine. So what is Emeril Lagasse’s most famous dish?
Emeril John Lagasse III was born on October 15, 1959 in Fall River, Massachusetts. He developed a love of food and cooking from his Portuguese grandparents. After high school, Emeril enrolled in the culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales University in 1978. He later moved to Paris to expand his culinary training at the prestigious Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne.
In the early 1980s, Emeril worked as a sous chef at the Hotel de la Poste in Northeast Harbor, Maine. He was then executive chef at Dunfey’s Hyannis Resort before opening his first restaurant, Emeril’s, in New Orleans in 1990. The restaurant was nominated as “Best New Restaurant” by the James Beard Foundation that year.
Emeril began appearing on local TV shows in New Orleans, showcasing his dynamic cooking style filled with Creole and Cajun flavors. His popularity grew until he was discovered by the Food Network in 1993. This launched his first national show “Emeril Live” which ran for over 10 years and earned him a 1997 CableACE Award.
Emeril on Food Network
From 1996 to 2007, Emeril hosted over 1,500 shows on “Emeril Live” with his signature high-energy presentation. He cooked a wide range of dishes influenced by French, Spanish, Italian, and American regional cuisines. Some of his go-to dishes on the show included chicken cordon bleu, shrimp etouffee, and pork chops with apple cranberry relish.
Emeril brought many catchphrases like “Bam!” and “Let’s kick it up a notch!” to the masses on Food Network. He also became famous for his instructions to “add some essence” or a sprinkle of seasoning like cayenne at just the right moment. To this day, home cooks associate Emeril’s distinct phrases and mannerisms with taking flavors up a level.
In 1997, Emeril created “The Essence of Emeril” which ran until 2007. He also hosted “Emeril Live: Look Who’s Cooking” from 2001-2004 where he cooked with celebrity guests. Emeril made regular appearances on other Food Network shows like Iron Chef America and Inside Dish throughout the 2000s.
Notable Food Network Shows
|The Essence of Emeril||1997-2007|
|Emeril Live: Look Who’s Cooking||2001-2004|
Signature Dishes and Restaurants
Throughout his Food Network shows and cookbooks, Emeril became associated with many signature dishes that exemplify his Creole and Cajun style. Here are some of his most famous recipes:
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
This dish features large shrimp sautéed in a spicy butter sauce with plenty of garlic, lemon juice, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. It’s usually served over French bread for dipping up the rich sauce.
Emeril’s Creole Seasoning
Emeril created his own blend of herbs and spices inspired by Creole cooking. It typically contains salt, cayenne, black pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and garlic. He uses it to kick up the flavor in many dishes.
Pork Chop with Apple Cranberry Relish
Bone-in pork chops are pan seared then baked with a sweet relish of apples, cranberries, brown sugar, and spices. The tart relish complements the savory pork chops.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken breasts are stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese then breaded and fried. This classic dish has a crunchy exterior and a melty, savory filling.
A stew of shrimp cooked in a thick, seasoned roux with the “holy trinity” of onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Emeril’s version includes cayenne, thyme, and garlic for extra flavor.
In addition to his TV shows, Emeril has opened 13 restaurants located in major U.S. cities like New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Miami Beach. He serves his signature recipes along with other Creole and Cajun specialties at these establishments.
Notable Emeril’s Restaurants
|Emeril’s Delmonico||New Orleans|
|Delmonico Steakhouse||Las Vegas|
|Emeril’s Coastal Italian||Miramar Beach, FL|
Emeril’s Most Famous Dish: Cajun Jambalaya
Of all his signature recipes, Emeril Lagasse is likely best known for his Cajun-style jambalaya. Jambalaya is a one-pot Creole dish that consists of rice cooked together with vegetables, meat, and bold seasonings.
Emeril’s jambalaya recipe calls for:
- Andouille sausage, chicken thighs, shrimp for the protein
- Onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic for the aromatic veggies
- Long grain white rice as the base
- Chicken broth for cooking the rice and building flavor
- Bay leaves, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Emeril’s Creole seasoning for seasoning
All the ingredients are cooked together in one large pot. The result is a savory, hearty, and spicy rice dish loaded with meats and Louisiana flavor. Here is Emeril’s original Cajun jambalaya recipe with specific ingredient amounts and instructions:
Emeril Lagasse’s Jambalaya Recipe
- 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 3 cups chicken broth, warmed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons Emeril’s Creole Seasoning or Cajun seasoning blend
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (for garnish)
- In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the andouille and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute until starting to turn pink. Transfer the meats to a plate and set aside.
- Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic to the pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender. Add the rice and stir to coat with the cooking oil for 1 minute. Stir in the warm chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme, cayenne, Creole seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return the meats to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
- Transfer jambalaya to a serving platter and garnish with chopped green onions. Serve immediately while hot.
Emeril’s jambalaya encompasses all the iconic flavors of Creole cooking – smoky sausage, tender chicken, plump shrimp, flavorful rice, and zesty seasonings. The medley of meats and textures make this dish satisfying. It’s also versatile – the proteins can be swapped for favorites like turkey kielbasa, ham, crawfish, duck, or alligator.
This recipe has been featured across Emeril’s shows, cookbooks, and restaurants through the years. Preparing jambalaya became synonymous with Emeril himself. Fans eagerly tuned in each time he whipped up a batch on TV, exclaiming “Bam!” as he added the Creole seasoning. To this day, home cooks associate jambalaya with Emeril Lagasse.
Why Jambalaya Became His Signature
There are several reasons why Emeril Lagasse’s Cajun jambalaya gained such fame:
- Reflects his roots – Jambalaya originates from Louisiana, where Emeril was born and trained as a chef. It represents his background in Creole and Cajun cuisine.
- Encapsulates his style – The hearty flavors, spice, and medley of meats in jambalaya personify Emeril’s bold cooking style.
- Allows for personalization – With different protein options, there are endless ways to customize his jambalaya recipe.
- Crowd-pleaser – Jambalaya is satisfying comfort food enjoyed by many across ages and tastes.
- Accessible ingredients – The ingredients in jambalaya can be found at most mainstream grocery stores.
- One-pot dish – Jambalaya comes together easily in one pot, ideal for Emeril’s TV demos.
- Range of textures – Crispy sausage, tender chicken, plump shrimp, fluffy rice – jambalaya offers variety.
All these factors made jambalaya the perfect recipe for Emeril to popularize through his shows, cookbooks, and restaurants. It’s a tasty, comforting crowd-pleaser that captures the essence of his Creole cooking style.
Jambalaya’s Significance to Emeril’s Career
Emeril Lagasse’s jambalaya recipe played a key role in the success and longevity of his career. Here are some of the significant impacts it had:
- Became one of his first signature recipes after opening his first restaurant,Emeril’s, in New Orleans
- Served as a cornerstone recipe when launching his Food Network shows in the 1990s and 2000s
- Featured prominently across his best-selling cookbooks
- Remains a menu staple at his restaurants to this day
- Introduced millions of viewers over 1,500 episodes of “Emeril Live” to Creole cooking through an accessible, satisfying recipe
- Helped drive bookings and traffic to his restaurants by associating them with his famous jambalaya
- Generated interest and visibility for his product lines like Seasoning Blends inspired by the flavors in his jambalaya
- Cemented his authority in Cajun and Creole cuisine by mastering such an iconic Louisiana recipe
Even today, nearly 30 years after opening his first restaurant, Emeril Lagasse remains intrinsically tied to jambalaya in public perception. The recipe reminds fans of his energetic television presence and mastery of Creole flavors. It’s an enduring symbol of his significant culinary and media legacy.
Emeril Lagasse’s status as an American culinary icon can be traced back to one signature recipe – his Cajun-style jambalaya. The flavorful one-pot dish encapsulates Emeril’s bold cooking style and connection to his Louisiana roots. Jambalaya fueled his early restaurant success and national popularity through his long-running Food Network shows.
Of the thousands of recipes he’s demonstrated over the years, jambalaya stands out as the quintessential Emeril dish. It aligns perfectly with his energetic personality and mastery of Creole cuisine. The visual of Emeril preparing sizzling jambalaya and exclaiming “Bam!” became etched in viewers’ memories. The recipe’s flexibility and crowd-pleasing taste made it a natural hit.
Jambalaya remains his most famous recipe, a symbol of his enduring talent and impact. Every batch cooked, whether at home by fans or in his restaurants, pays homage to the chef who made this Creole classic forever his own.