January 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you were abducted by aliens and dumped blindfolded at the door of Louis’ Basque Corner, you would swear once inside that you were in the Faubourg Marigny in New Orleans in one of those gritty, working-class neighborhood hangouts where leathery topers linger over drafts in the front saloon and families enjoy incredible cuisine in the back dining rooms.  There’s a smoky haze that clings to the mismatched, outdated furniture and the souvenirs left behind by satisfied customers.  Ray Charles wails on the juke box, and there is a happy chattery buzz punctuated by a raucous laugh from time to time.

The thing is, Louis’ is in Reno, Nevada, of all places, on a side street blocks away from the glittery casinos and showplaces.  It’s the renowned restaurant of Louis and Lorraine Erreguible, who will serve you delectable Basque specialties from that region of the Pyrenees between Spain and France.  Here’s a video of Guy Fieri of the Food Channel at Louis’ that will give you an idea of the quality of the cuisine as well as the simple ambience.

This braise recipe creates a sauce that is a base for any number of departures.  You can use it to cook chicken seasoned with tarragon and sage and mushrooms, or lamb with rosemary, or rabbit with fennel.  I had sweetbreads cooked in this sauce, and they were divine.  Experiment with your own taste buds.  I have tweaked this recipe from versions I found on the internet.  As with all braises, you should tweak it your way and make it your own.

And if you’re ever in Reno, be sure to experience Louis’.              


½ Cup vegetable oil

1 ½ Lb. meat of your choice (chicken, lamb, rabbit or any other suitable meat)

Salt and pepper

3 Medium onions, chopped

2 Green bell peppers, chopped

4 Carrots, sliced

2 Stalks celery, sliced

6 Cloves garlic, minced

2 Shallots, minced

¼ Tsp. red pepper flakes

2 Cans (24 0z.) whole tomatoes

½ Tbsp. flour

2 Cups dry white wine and more as needed

Seasonings of your choice for the meat

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large braising pan, heat oil over medium high heat until a clean wooden spoon inserted in it bubbles. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add onions, bell pepper, carrots, celery, garlic and shallots to the oil and sauté until wilted.

Add tomatoes and pepper flakes, and cook on medium high heat for 5 – 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and mix in as a roux. When the flour is well blended, add the white wine and bring just to a boil. Reduce the mixture on low heat or place in the oven until sauce has thickened to a tomato-paste consistency. Remove from stove or oven.

Season the meat with the seasonings of your choice, add the meat to the sauce mixture, and stir in. Cover and return to oven, stirring occasionally. Add wine as necessary to keep moist. Bake 1 to 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender.

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