With the advent of muggy Houston heat comes the debut of new summer dishes at Brennan’s, meticulously crafted by Executive Chef Danny Trace. If you haven’t been to the iconic brick establishment in midtown, now is perhaps the best time to cozy up to a table in the intimate dining room to get up close and personal with some of the best Creole food in Houston.
The number one dish to order from their summer menu is the Jimmy’s Oyster Roast—the hickory smoked Houma oysters, roasted in a cast iron skillet with jalapeño cornbread crumbs and flakes of seaweed, are enormous and plump under a crust of buttery crumbs: they rest in a flavor-bursting broth that will make you wish for half a loaf of bread to sop it up with. If you’re a sucker for soft shell crab, you’ll find the Crispy Louisiana Softshell Crab to have a lovely, delicate crust, balanced on top of a lima bean succotash that is a delight of creamy textural contrast against a dollop of goat cheese grits, sauced in a charred lemon ravigote.
Gulf bycatch is featured in the Galveston Docks Koo-Be-Yahn alongside shrimp in a spiced, stew-like Courtbouillon sauce bulked with creamy buttermilk potatoes. And lastly, the Buffalo Bayou Honey Roasted Duck is a triumph from the kitchen, roasted in a duck oven and served over Atchafalaya crawfish fried rice and Chayote squash in a brûlée orange duck sauce.
It would be borderline criminal to leave Brennan’s without sampling their vast dessert menu. The Bananas Foster is an obvious and well-justified choice. The dramatic tableside flambé that transforms bananas into a velvety mixture bathed in butter, rum, sugar and cinnamon and topped with vanilla bean ice cream is a perfect end to the night. Other favorites include the Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake, an enormous buttermilk shortbread biscuit spilling over with Chantilly cream and macerated strawberries. For an especially decadent ending to the night, the Mississippi Mud Pie is a dense block of dark chocolate mousse topped with fun garnishes: candied pecan crunch, caramel corn, and Heavenly Hash candy. For those desiring a 2-in-1 dessert, the Bread Pudding Soufflé comes with the feather-light puffed top of a soufflé, but a lusciously dense interior of whisky sauce-soaked bread pudding. And the Lemon Meringue Pie, with tall, bronzed peaks of meringue over a tangy lemon filling, delights with dots of Limoncello blueberry coulis and candied lemon zest.
For adventurous home cooks, Brennan’s graciously shared the recipes for their Brandy Milk Punch and Catfish Courtboillon. But if you don’t have the nerve to attempt the 19-ingredient Courtboillon, I highly suggest trying the real deal in person.
Brennan’s of Houston Brandy Milk Punch
- 2 oz. Brandy (Bourbon may be substituted)
- .5 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1.5 oz. whole milk
- 1 oz. simple syrup
Mix liquid ingredients in a glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
- 4, 6 oz. catfish filets
- 8 jumbo shrimp
- 2 oz. grapeseed oil
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 3.5 oz. fennel, julienned
- 4 oz. green bell pepper, julienned
- 4 oz. white onion, julienned
- 3.5 oz. celery, julienned
- ¼ cup Steen’s molasses
- ½ cup Crystal hot sauce
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups shrimp stock
- 4 each bay leaves
- 1 pinch saffron
- 2 lemons
- 4 leaves basil, chiffonade
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Creole seasoning, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, toss together fennel, bell peppers, celery, onion and 1 oz. of grape seed oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking tray and place in oven. Roast for 10 minutes.
Cut tomatoes in half length- wise and place on a baking tray skin side up. Drizzle 1 ounce of grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the skin starts to blister. Once cooled, remove skin and julienne the tomatoes.
Using a medium-size saucepot, combine roasted vegetables, tomatoes, shrimp stock, hot sauce, Worcestershire, molasses, garlic, saffron and bay leaves. Bring pot to a simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off heat, finish with basil and squeeze the juice from one lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Season the catfish (both sides) and shrimp with Creole seasoning. Using a baking dish, neatly arrange the catfish filets and shrimp. Pour sauce over top halfway up the fish. Using the second lemon, garnish each fish filet with a lemon wheel. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.
3300 Smith St, Houston, TX 77006