Best-selling cookbook author Frank Davis, who recently came out with the new Frank Davis Makes Good Groceries—A New Orleans Cookbook and The Fisherman’s Tacklebox Bible, is a humorous television personality who appears daily on WWL-TV, which airs In the Kitchen with Frank Davis during the three-hour morning show (they cut back and forth from the news to the cooking set). He also has a gourmet seasoning line.
Many south Louisianans watch Frank’s daily show, Naturally N’Awlins, which pulls incredible rating points. He teaches cooking for major corporations and lectures at universities, and has a fishing show, also on WWL-TV. As a fan, I asked him recently about his various endeavors.
What time do you get going for your cooking show every day?
I’m up and at ’em at 3 am.
Tell me what inspired your new cookbook?
This one is all about the comfort foods we grew up with, like when we went to Maw Maw’s house to eat red beans and rice, tamales, and hogs head cheese. It made you feel good when you were hungry.
How did you come up with putting a can of beer into the recipe for BBQ shrimp? What does that beer do that Worcestershire doesn’t?
When the beer mixes with the seasoning, it makes a fantastic sauce. I don’t know if I was making it one day and I dropped the beer in it or what.
Do you have any tips for making the perfect Thanksgiving turkey?
I’ve been doing a slow-roasted turkey for 25 years. Put it on at 500 degrees for 15 minutes. It sears the outside and locks in the juices. Turn it down to 250 degrees, close the oven door and don’t look at it for eight hours or so. The juices can’t get out. This is a turkey that you put on all night long, for eight to 12 hours. Right before you serve it, put the hot stuffing in the turkey just to pick up the flavor. Take the drippings and pour them on top of your cornbread or oyster dressing.
What is your idea of the ultimate game dinner?
We once took a venison backstrap during game season and unrolled it like a roll of toilet paper so it was nice and flat. We seasoned it with cayenne, salt, and cheese and made venison pinwheels. Then we put melted cheese over the top, wrapped it in strips of bacon with toothpicks, slid it into a 450-degree oven, and baked it for 12-15 minutes, then stuck it under the broiler for 4-6 minutes. You’ve died and gone to heaven.
You meet a lot of people in your line of work. What is your favorite Naturally N’Awlins story?
A friend, Chef John Levy, cooked with me on my radio show on Saturday mornings and we made a she-crab soup. I put the crabs in a steamer convection oven, turned it on 450 degrees and badabing, badaboom! A few minutes later, he opened the steamer and there weren’t any crabs in it. The crabs had reached up with their claws and raised their bodies up and did a little chinning action, and they were hanging from the roof of the oven.
During your television show, have you ever had a Julia Child moment where you dropped the chicken on the floor?
Sure, the only thing is I didn’t say “Bon Appetit.” A pot roast slid out of my hands and hit a big bowl of flour. It looked like an atomic cloud and so did I. It was like a big white Tsunami.
Tell me about The Fisherman’s Tackle Box Bible.
It’s nothing more than a dissertation on every question about fishing that has ever been asked to me in person, on the telephone, during a public address, or by some guy walking up to me in the aisle on his way to communion. And I fixed it up with a whole bunch of humor.
What are some of your favorite Louisiana restaurants?
My favorite place to eat is my kitchen.
What is your best food memory from childhood?
We came from a poor family. Every Sunday when we came back from church you could smell that chicken frying. We had six in the family and there was only one chicken, but it was great.
If you had one last meal in Louisiana, what would it be?
It’s got to be my wife’s stewed chicken. She smothers it down in authentic Sicilian red gravy, the ultimate, from scratch. Pasta comes red hot out of the boiler, it goes into a soup bowl, the gravy goes over the top, the chicken goes over that, and about six or eight tablespoons of Parmesan, and then some garlic bread and a big old glass of iced tea.