Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 1999

ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / December 11, 1999

At Christmas time, Rick Gaille makes a gumbo with crabmeat, andouille and chicken. The secret to the great gumbo his family enjoys, he says, isthe crabmeat. Rick likes to cook. And to think that most people only knowhim as a winning coach at St. James High School who leads his team intothe playoffs every year, or for his reputation as golfer with championships to his credit.

But Rick can really get serious in the kitchen, especially during any off- season or the holidays.

Rick grew up in a family where basic steak and potatoes was a main staple. When he moved out of the house, he claims he became aware thatthere was more food out there with different flavors than what he had been accustomed to. From playing golf, through college and going aroundthe country, he came to know that “you could live to eat rather than just eat to live.”Other Gaille family members have ventured more into the realm of fine eating after being influenced by the meals the Rick and wife, Elaine, serve in their LaPlace home. More of the family, he believes, have found the joyof eating and that it can be a social event, too.

Even though he is known for his original play calling on the football field, in the kitchen Rick doesn’t make up anything. He believes in learning fromthe mistakes of others. Then Rick tries and ends up trying to combine theirtechniques with his own.

Rick like to use Paul Prudhomme’s cookbook or watch John Folse, coincidentally, a St. James High School graduate. Mike Villemarette,Bonnabel’s head football coach, gave Rick the Folse cookbook when Rick coached there. Elaine points out the special “cookbook shelf.””How many people have this many cookbooks diplayed in their main family room?” she asks. Among the treasures there is a Tony Chachere cookbookgiven to Rick by his father, Richard Sr., who personally knew Chacherethrough business. Elaine likes the Ursuline Convent book and they have “LaBouche Creole” by Leon Soniat. From Alex Gifford’s book, “Twenty-SevenNew Orleans Restaurants,” the Gailles rave about El Patio’s Black Bean Soup.

At Christmas time, with a week off, Rick’s culinary talents really shine through as he backs up his gumbo with a side dish of Cajun potato salad.

He spends at least four days preparing food then. Holidays allow him tobecomes more creative and attempt more dishes.

A faithful wife, Elaine raves about Rick’s cooking, cheers on his attempts and successes in the kitchen and is his staunchest critic and supporter, mostly supporter. She gladly boasts about his stuffed beef brisket andbaked spinach Lorraine.

Also like a good wife, she doesn’t mind at all having the task of being the main cleaner upper in the kitchen. But, Rick reminds you, Elaine does makea pecan pie and oyster dressing “to die for.” Most of Rick’s cooking is on the weekend, and during football season he does a little on Sunday. Family members from the north look forward tocoming to LaPlace to eat. Like a true local, Rick uses andouille in as manydishes as possible.

Following are some of his favorite recipes:


2 cups canned chicken broth 2 10-z. pkgs. frozen spinach4 tbsp. bacon drippings1 cup onions, finely chopped 1 lb. cooked bacon, finely choppedsalt and black pepper, to taste 1/4 lb. provolone cheese, diced small6 slices Lorraine cheese

First, take a 3 1/2 quart saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil, drop in the frozen spinach, and simmer it gently until tender (which should take you just about 10 minutes at a slow bubble) When it’s ready, turn off the fire, remove the pot from the burner, put on the lid and let the spinach soak in the broth for another 15 minutes (this gives it time to pick up the chicken broth flavor).

Now take the skillet in which you rendered out the bacon, heat the bacon drippings to high and fry the chopped onions until they begin to brown (but don’t them burn). While they’re cooking, let the spinach drain completelyand force out any excess liquid.

When the onions are ready, remove the skillet from the fire, drop in the spinach, and toss everything together until it is completely mixed. Lightlysalt and pepper the mixture to taste, but watch the salt since there is salt in the chicken broth. Thoroughly stir in the diced provolone. The pan andthe spinach must be cool enough so the cheese doesn’t melt when you mix it in. The cheese must melt as the casserole bakes.Transfer the spinach into a Pyrex pan, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

When ready to eat, place several slices of the Lorraine cheese in a single layer over the casserole. It should melt immediately and givethe dish a lace-like look.

Serves four – It can be easily doubled or tripled. You’ll need it!CAJUN POTATO SALAD

2 tbsps. margarine1 tbsp. garlic, minced1 bunch (5 to 6 stalks) shallots, tops only 2 lbs. crawfish tails1 tbsp. liquid smoke2 tbsps. Worcestershire sauce2 lbs. bacon, fried and crumbled5 lbs. red potatoes, boiled in crab boil, cut up16 ozs. mayonnaise1 dozen eggs, boiled, yolks separated, whites chopped 1 cup spicy Creole mustard 1/2 cup yellow mustard 2 tbsps. Tabasco pepper saucesalt and pepper, to taste

In a medium-size skillet, melt margarine over medium heat Add garlic an shallots; cook until wilted. Add crawfish tails, liquid smoke andWorcestershire sauce. Cook for 15 minutes; cool. Add bacon and set aside.Mix potatoes, mayonnaise and egg whites in a three-gallon bowl. In aseparate bowl, mash egg yolks and mix with mustards and Tabasco sauce.

Combine mustard mixture and potatoes. Stir in crawfish. Salt and pepperto taste.

Serves 10 to 12.


1 medium or large trimmed beef brisket (as much fat removed as possible) 2 medium onions, chopped 1 bell pepper, chopped 3 stalks celery, chopped 4 toes garlic, minced 1 lb. Louisiana crawfish tailswater, about 1/2 cup 1 bunch green onions, chopped 1 handful of parsley, chopped 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Slice the brisket down the center to make a pocket. The brisket will havetwo flaps still connected at one end. Season the inside of the flaps totaste.

Stuffing: Saute onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, more salt and red, white, and black peppers and seasonings in oil and butter for about 20 minutes Add crawfish tails, re-season, and saute for 10 more minutes.

Add up to one half cup of water if needed to keep from drying out. Stir inthe green onions, parsley and bread crumbs until mixture is the consistency of a thick paste. Turn off treat and let the mixture cool.When mixture is cooled, spread the stuffing mixture on the bottom flap of the brisket. Place the top flap over the stuffing and close the pocket.Season the outside to taste. Place in a cooking bag according tomanufacturer’s directions in a 325 degree oven.

To serve, slice meat across the grain and serve with gravy from the bag.

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