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Chef's Corner: JIMMY BANNOS Chef/Owner, Heaven On Seven Restaurant

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Chef's Corner: JIMMY BANNOS Chef/Owner, Heaven On Seven Restaurant

Jimmy Bannos, a third-generation restaurateur, worked at his parents’ diner when he was growing up between the age of 9 and 20. After receiving his formal culinary education at Washburne Trade School, Bannos became infatuated with Crescent City cooking in the early 1980s and worked with famous New Orleans chefs, such as Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul’s, Frank Brigtsen and Emeril Lagasse. (free registration required)

Bannos’ bustling New Orleans-style Heaven on Seven restaurants have been one of the most popular eateries in Chicago for 29 years. Serving a highly personalized interpretation of New Orleans and Southern cooking, Bannos has smartly reinvented his food and his restaurant over the years to keep his concept fresh and vibrant. Today, he marries Latin, South American, Asian and Western European methods with New Orleans techniques and ingredients.

A collector of both modern and antique cookbooks, Bannos entered the publishing world himself with The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It’s Mardi Gras All The Time! and Big Easy Cocktails, Jazzy Drinks and Savory Bites. They invite food lovers into his kitchen and share some of his favorite down-home recipes.

 What separates Bannos from the rest is his ability to season aggressively without overpowering the palate. While he uses cayenne-spiked seasoning blends and red chili pepper sauces, he also incorporates milder, well-rounded seasoning agents. The result is a complex layering of flavors that is consistent with New Orleans cooking principles, while bringing the region’s food into the 21st century.


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo - Chef Jimmy Bannos
Serves 6 people
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4
inch cubes
4 teaspoons plus 1/2 teaspoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound andouille, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
1/2 cups diced red onion
2 cups seeded, diced green bell pepper
1 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon seeded, minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon Roasted-Garlic Puree*
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small bay leaf
6 1/3 cups chicken stock
1 cup Dark Roux**
1/4  teaspoon filé
powder (see note)
White rice
Toss the chicken and 4 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning
together in a medium-seized bowl and set aside.
In a large (7-quart) heavy Dutch oven, preferable enameled cast iron, heat the oil over high heat. 
When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the andouille and brown for 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the
seasoned chicken and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mix in the bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, and
garlic puree, and sauté for 2 minutes. 

Add the basil, oregano, ground black and white peppers, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and remaining ½ teaspoon of Cajun seasoning; cook for 2 minutes more.  Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.  Whisk in the roux a little at a time and stir continuously for 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Remove from the heat and stir in the filé powder.  Do not let the mixture boil once you have added the filé powder.  Remove the bay leaf.
Serve with cooked white rice.
*Roasted-Garlic Puree
Makes 1 cup
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 cup extra virgin or regular olive oil
Preheat the oven toe 300°.
Place the garlic in a small ovenproof container and pour in the oil.  Use additional oil if needed to
completely immerse all the garlic cloves.  Cover the container with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour, until
garlic is soft and light golden brown.
Strain the garlic and place in a blender along with 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Puree to a
smooth consistency, adding a small amount of oil if necessary.  Pour into a container and cover the top of
the puree with a thin layer of the oil.  Cover and store in the refrigerator. 
Reserve the remaining garlic-infused oil in another container and refrigerate.
**Dark Roux
Makes 2 cups
2 cups canola oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Heat oil in a 4-quart dutch oven over high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes.  Carefully whisk in
the flour a little at a time until all the flour is incorporated.  (The mixture will foam up as you add the
flour, so add a small amount at a time.) 
Reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously, preferably with a flat-edged wooded spoon, for 22 to 25 minutes, until the roux is a dark
brown.  To prevent the roux from cooking any further, carefully pour it into a heat-proof bowl and cool for 45
minutes.  Drain of any oil that separates from the roux.
Store the roux in a covered container and refrigerate.
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