Christmas Eve, 2012

Next Monday, December 24, we continue our tradition of offering a Creole Reveillon dinner in the true spirit of New Orleans holiday dining. Through most of the 19th century, Reveillons were held in the homes of the French Quarter’s Creole population, when churchgoers would arrive home after midnight mass famished, ready to break the pre-communion fast. AS you might imagine, in the homes of the food & drink-obsessed Creoles of the French Quarter, these dinners came to be many hours long, featuring course after course of decadent holiday treats meant at once to celebrate the holiday as well as break the fast in spectacular fashion, as New Orleanians have always been wont to do.

During the 20th century as the restaurant business developed in the emerging dining capital of the South, the finer restaurants in New Orleans began offering Reveillon menus themselves. After World War II particularly, as the demographics of the Quarter changed in addition to changing mores regarding Catholic Church canon and changing habits among churchgoers, the Reveillon tradition died, only to be revived over the last several years by the city’s white-hot restaurant scene. Dozens of restaurants there now offer Reveillon menus. Our humble dinner at Big Jones seeks to extend that tradition, to give a portrait of a beautiful time and place in New Orleans’ culinary history, to serve the many Louisiana expats who now call Chicago home, and to share our love of Southern hospitality with you in a uniquely seasonal way.

The most common format of Reveillon menus over the span of the tradition has been the Table d’Hote, a fancy name for a dinner of a set number of courses with choices for each course. We’ve opted to offer soup, salad, entree, and dessert, and while the scope of this humble dinner is too limited to revive the whole Creole cookery catalog, we offer you some delicacies both new and old, most importantly there is goose gumbo, game pies, bread pudding, satsumas, stuffed fish with rice dressing, doberge cake, and a handful of other edibles that have graced Reveillon tables for generations. Inspirations for this dinner come primarily from Creole Cookery, an 1885 book by the Christian Women’s League of New Orleans that you’ve surely seen on this blog many times, with a smattering of dishes from other New Orleans traditions, with one exception – the vanilla hearts of palm bisque is a new one we premiered last year to great reviews and call our own, even though its components would have been in many a Creole kitchen over the years, I found a uniquely delicious way to combine these elements. And, we’re especially exciting to be offering the Big Jones premiere of Tennessee-grown Tuber Melanosporum, or black winter truffle, the same species for which Perigord is famed, now cultivated in the fertile forests of Tennessee!

Please join us for a very special evening. Reservations are very highly recommended, it will sell out in advance.


A Tradition Christmas Eve Reveillon

Christmas Eve, December 24 2012, 4-9pm


First course:

Hearts of Palm Bisque with Vanilla, Truffle, and Pumpernickel

Coconut & Calf’s Foot Soup, ca. 1885 with shrimp and fingerling potatoes

Oyster Stew with House-cured Country Ham and Buttered Croutons

Second course:

Pickled Baby Beet Salad with Clotted Cream, Absinthe Gems, Frisee, and Celery Salt Croutons

Hoophouse Mustard Greens with Shallot, Candied Peanut, and Ginger-Benne Vinaigrette


Heritage American Buff Goose Gumbo with House-made Chaurice Meatballs, & Arkansas Delta Rice

Creamed Venison Pie with Celery Root, Rutabaga, Leeks, and Horseradish Red Wine Jus

Stuffed Rushing Waters Trout with Crawfish Rice Dressing and Charred Brussels Sprouts in Lemon Butter

Toasted Henry Moore Corn Spaetzle Heirloom Christmas Butterbean Gravy, Pearl Onions, Roasted Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Toasted Bread Crumbs


A Traditional Doberge Cake of Chocolate, Lemon, Caramel

Rum & Nutmeg Bread Pudding with Molasses Cookie Crumble, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Sweet Potato Pie with Sticky Sorghum Caramel Corn, Candied Ginger, Whipped Kilgus Farmstead Cream


Forty-eight dollars per person, twenty per person under age twelve

Venison pie from last year's Reveillon. Game pies are an old Creole standby.
Venison pie from last year’s Reveillon. Game pies are an old Creole standby.
The doberge cake from last year's Reveillon. We're going for an even taller cake this year!
The doberge cake from last year’s Reveillon. We’re going for an even taller cake this year!