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January 22, 2010

In Good Taste: Recovery Dinner The Glass Onion’s fun-loving chefs serve up communal comfort food for the New Year


Charleston Magazine - Jan. 2010

There’s a different way of doing things in N’Awlins. There, a warm welcome and a down-home menu with a low price tag are often as revered as the fancy food of a white-tablecloth restaurant, and great cooking can be “rustic without being simple-minded,” a phrase the late R. W. Apple coined about the NOLA restaurant Cochon.

Chris Stuart making Fries

Emeril’s Delmonico alums Sarah O’Kelley and Charles Vincent wanted to open just such a place, but when Hurricane Katrina wiped out their plans, they migrated to Charleston—Vincent to FIG, Sarah to food journalism. But they persevered, and by 2008, in partnership with kindred spirit, FIG sous chef, and Birmingham native Chris Stewart, they opened The Glass Onion, a charming, colorful, brown paper-covered-table café that delivers the simple foods of New Orleans and the rural South using Lowcountry ingredients.

The time for ambitious dinner parties passed when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, so we tasked the trio with creating a simple January “recovery dinner.” Like their café, their meal is casual, responding to the after-the-holidays hunger for a cozy helping of communal comfort food. Whether it serves as a thrifty way to have a few friends for supper or gather a crowd for the Super Bowl, here’s a hearty menu that’s sure to please foodies and French-onion dippers alike.


The Challenge

Chefs: Chris Stewart, Sarah O’Kelley, & Charles Vincent of The Glass Onion
Goal: Prepare a hearty yet effortless winter dinner using fresh, seasonal ingredients

Number of guests: 8
Per person budget: $10

Menu: Salad: Bibb lettuce wedge with vinaigrette and deviled eggs Main: Chicken and sausage jambalaya with coleslaw and cornbread Dessert: Chocolate pecan pie


Butterhead lettuce, a tender, loose-leaf variety that includes Bibb, is a refreshing change from the ubiquitous mesclun. “A wedge of Bibb seems so simple,” says Sarah, “but is actually wonderful when it’s a really nice hydroponic head like we get from Kurious Farms in Moncks Corner.”

The vivid red Thunder Sauce adds even more color to the already deep yellow yolks of Celeste Albers’ farm eggs, which The Glass Onion devils fresh twice a day. If cooking for a crowd, the chefs advise making the deviled eggs one day ahead, but no earlier. “The salad dressing, on the other hand, can be doubled and made several days in advance,” they say.

The Shopping List

  • Bibb lettuce $5.98
  • Creole mustard $2.29
  • Shallot $0.65
  • Garlic $0.69
  • Farm eggs $3.50
  • Thunder Sauce $5.00
  • Final Cost: $18.11

From the Pantry

  • Kosher salt & black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Yellow mustard
  • Hot sauce
  • see Wedge of Bibb Lettuce with Vinaigrette and Jennie Ruth’s Deviled Eggs recipe below…

Main Course

“Without seafood, this chicken and sausage jambalaya is considered a poor man’s version of the traditional Cajun stew,” explains Chris. “We sometimes even make it with all pork, adding pieces of belly to the sausage. That’s the tradition in Arcadia—using whatever ingredients are handy and stretching them with rice.” Sarah explains that this jambalaya isn’t altogether spicy. “That’s a misconception about Cajun food,” she says, noting that real Andouille sausage will add some heat, but making the dish extremely spicy masks the flavor. “Instead, we put a selection of hot sauces out on the table and let folks determine their own degree. We like Tabasco, Crystal, and Bulliard’s—all are Louisiana favorites made with cayenne peppers.” It may be the basic fare of bayou country, but cooled by the coleslaw and bolstered by the cornbread, the jambalaya leaves guests warm, comforted, and ready for a cold January recovery.

For jambalaya success, Chris recommends brining the chicken to lock in moisture and season the bird. Be exact in the salt-to-water ratio in the brine: one cup of salt to one gallon of water. Kosher salt is cost effective when compared to sea salt and doesn’t contain iodine like table salt does. He also uses converted rice for a cleaner grain, preferring Uncle Ben’s. While the jambalaya is best straight from the oven, it can be kept covered in a low oven (200°F) for a couple of hours. Leftovers should be reheated in small batches in the microwave.

The Shopping List

  • Butter $2.69
  • Sausage 2 lbs. @ $6.99/lb. $13.98
  • Onion $1.98
  • Celery $1.49
  • Bell pepper $1.99
  • Chicken 4 lbs. @ $1.99/lb. $7.96
  • Chicken stock $2.59
  • Fresh thyme $1.99
  • Canned tomatoes $1.89
  • Rice $3.59
  • Green onions $1.19
  • Cabbage $2.07
  • Sweet pickle relish $1.59
  • Cornmeal $1.19
  • Buttermilk $2.09
  • Final Cost: $48.28

From the Pantry

  • Garlic, leftover from salad
  • Bay leaves
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Coriander
  • Kosher salt & black pepper
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cider vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Bacon fat
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Eggs, leftover from salad
  • See Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya and Coleslaw recipes below…


Charles says this is The Glass Onion’s take on “Derby Pie,” a name trademarked by Kern’s Kitchen of Prospect, Kentucky. Making the all-butter crust by hand brings an element of down-home goodness to it that no frozen crust ever could.

Running short of regular semisweet chocolate chips on the day of their dinner, Sarah substituted chopped unsweetened chocolate in the pie. It was deemed a happy accident; against a filling double-sweet with brown sugar and dark Karo syrup, the bitterness in the melting chocolate offered an agreeable contrast.

The Shopping List

  • Pecans $3.99
  • Chocolate chips $1.79
  • Bourbon $1.86
  • Heavy cream $1.50
  • Final Cost: $9.14

From the Pantry

  • Eggs, leftover from salad
  • Corn syrup
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Butter, leftover from main course
  • Salt
  • Flour
  • See Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe below…


The Glass Onion chefs dished out easy and economical comfort foods for a party of eight, coming in well under the $80 budget.

Amount Spent: $75.53



Wedge of Bibb Lettuce with Vinaigrette  -  Serves 8

Bibb Salad


  • 2 heads Bibb lettuce
  • House vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
  • For the House Vinaigrette:
  • (Makes 1 Cup)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Zatarain’s Creole mustard
  • 2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Wash lettuce in cold water. Dry and cut each head into quarters. Use a squirt bottle or spoon to dress lettuce, then season each wedge.

For the House Vinaigrette:

Place vinegar, mustard, shallot, garlic, and yolk in a food processor and blend thoroughly. Gradually add oils and blend until ingredients emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. Do not overblend or you will end up with mayonnaise!


Jennie Ruth’s Deviled Eggs

Deviled EggsIngredients

  • 6 eggs in shells
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. Thunder Sauce (house sweet pepper relish) or sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tbs. mayonnaise, Duke’s recommended
  • 1 Tbs. yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. hot sauce


Bring pot of water to a boil. Boil eggs for 14 minutes. Have bowl of ice water ready. Place eggs in ice bath. Once cool, remove from water and peel. Slice in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Place yolks, Thunder Sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, and hot sauce in food processor and blend until smooth. (Or combine in a bowl and work together using a fork until relatively smooth.) Spoon yolk mixture into whites.


Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya  -  Serves 8



  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs. Andouille or smoked sausage, diced
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 4-lb. all-natural chicken, brined and roasted (see following recipe)
  • 1 qt. chicken stock or store-bought broth
  • 28-oz. can of tomatoes
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbs. hot sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups raw converted rice
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped

For the Brined & Roasted Chicken:

  • 1 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 gal. water
  • 4-lb. all-natural chicken, rinsed with cold water
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large, oven-safe pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add sausage and cook five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until beginning to soften, about five minutes. Add next 11 ingredients. Stir to combine. When mixture comes to a simmer, add rice, cover, and place pot in oven. Cook for about one hour, or until rice has absorbed all liquid and is tender.

Remove from oven. Add green onions and stir to thoroughly combine. Add more seasoning to taste.

For the Brined & Roasted Chicken:

Combine one cup salt and water in a large pot and simmer until salt dissolves. Remove from heat, allow to cool. Add chicken. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or up to one day.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove chicken from brine. Pat dry and season. Place in roasting pan and cook on middle rack for 90 minutes, or until instant-read thermometer inserted in thigh reads 165°F. Cool, then pull meat from bones, discarding fat and skin


Cornbread  -  Serves 8

  • 2 Tbs. bacon fat or unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Add bacon fat to a nine- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Heat skillet in oven while preparing batter. (Alternatively, you can use a nine-inch square baking pan—grease the pan with butter, but do not heat in oven.) Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, melted butter, and buttermilk together in another large bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Remove skillet from oven, pour batter into skillet, and bake until golden brown and tester comes out clean, about one hour.



Cole SlawIngredients

  • 3- to 3 1/2-lb. green cabbage
  • Slaw sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. chopped green onions
  • 3 Tbs. mayonnaise, Duke’s recommended
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the Slaw Sauce:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, Duke’s recommended
  • 6 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce


Remove outer leaves of cabbage. Slice cabbage into quarters and cut out core. Cut each quarter in half (horizontally, not lengthwise) and then thinly slice each of the halves. This should yield a relatively fine slaw without grating.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

For the Slaw Sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Chill.



Chocolate Pecan Pie  -  Serves 8



  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped or whole
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 unbaked nine-inch pie shell (recipe follows)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

For the Pie Crust:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pea-size pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup water


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and roast about seven minutes. Cool. Spread pecans and chocolate chips evenly on bottom of pie shell.

In a saucepan, whisk remaining ingredients together. Heat until hot but not bubbling. Pour filling over pecans and chocolate chips. Bake until filling sets, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

For the Pie Crust:

Freeze butter for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour, sugar, and salt in food processor and process until combined. Gradually add cold butter while processor is running and process until mixture resembles wet sand. Gradually add water while processor is running and process just until dough balls together. Pat dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

If dough has spent more than one hour in refrigerator, let it warm up for a few minutes on counter before proceeding. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, turning it in half turns to be sure it’s rolled out evenly. Place it in nine-inch pie pan. Push dough gently into sides of pan. Trim dough around edge of pan, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold excess dough underneath edge. Crimp edge using finger and thumb or press with tines of a fork. Refrigerate crust for at least 30 minutes.


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