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Resetting the Table: At Home In New Orleans with Nina Compton

Recipe| January 20 2021

Photo by Tanveer Badal

Nina Compton’s approach to food is infused with multiple cultural influences, just like New Orleans itself. “Everything I do in my restaurants showcases my Caribbean beginnings, my roundabout 20-year journey to New Orleans and, of course, all the rich traditions and ingredients we have here. It’s all about time and place.” 

New Orleans is a great place for a food lover. “One of the things I love about New Orleans is that the entire city is excited about food all the time,” says Nina. “As a chef, that is the best thing you could ask for.” 


She loves showcasing premium ingredients from elsewhere for food lovers in her hometown. “Westholme wagyu is beautiful,” she says. “I am in love with that striploin. It’s the steak I could have everyday. If I had to choose my last meal on earth it would be steak frites and that would be my steak. The marbling, the nuttiness, the earthiness and the rounded flavours, the crust when you sear it – it’s not too fatty, not too lean, it’s just perfect.” 

Nina Compton owns Bywater American Bistro and Compere Lapin in New Orleans. 


Seared striploin (New York strip) with pecan gremolata and sorghum butter

Photo by Tanveer Badal

When I’m cooking a premium product like Westholme wagyu, I just want to keep it simple. Westholme takes so much time and care to raise these cattle – I want to showcase that. A little bit of salt, rosemary, garlic and olive oil and I’m ready to go. 

The sorghum butter and pecan gremolata echo qualities that I love in this meat: the sorghum picks up on the sweetness and the pecans add another layer to the nuttiness of the wagyu. 

Serves 4  

Time 2 hours 


Sorghum butter
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup softened butter
1 tsp liquid smoke *
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ cup sorghum syrup *
1 tbsp coarse sea salt

Pecan Gremolata 
1 clove garlic  
1 cup extra virgin olive oil 
½ cup parsley, finely chopped 
1 lemon, zest finely grated    
2 tbsp pecan nuts, finely chopped  

4 x 280g (10 oz) Westholme striploin / New York strip  
freshly ground pepper 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
2 sprigs rosemary 
2 tbsp softened butter 


Sorghum butter

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (360F). Toss sliced onion in a roasting pan with olive oil. Cook for around 45 minutes or until very soft. Set aside to cool then finely chop. 
  1. Mix butter, onions, liquid smoke, parsley and sorghum syrup. Set aside to cool and set. 

Pecan gremolata

  1. Microplane the garlic into a small sauce pot, then add the olive oil. Gently warm over medium heat, cooking the garlic without letting it colour. When garlic is soft, remove from heat and allow to cool. 
  1. When cool, add the parsley, zest and pecans and a pinch of sea salt. 


  1. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper. Sear the steak for about 4 minutes on each side.  
  1. Continue to sear, then add the garlic, rosemary and butter. Continue to cook while basting for 2 more minutes.  
  1. Remove steak and set aside on a place to rest. Smear 3 tbsp of sorghum butter over steak while resting. Leave for 3 minutes, then slice.  
  1. To serve, add more butter, top the steak with pecan gremolata and sprinkle with sea salt.  


  • Butter can be made in advance. Excess butter can be rolled into log shapes, wrapped in baking paper and foil, then frozen. 
  • If you have a smoker, you can smoke onions and omit liquid smoke. 
  • Replace sorghum syrup with corn syrup, maple syrup, golden syrup or molasses. 

Roasted sweet potatoes with jerk-spiced butter

We grow sweet potatoes at home and this spiced butter goes so well with them. You’ll have plenty of butter left over: roll it up and freeze it for the next tray of roast vegetables or grilled meats.  

Serves 4  
Time 1 hour 10 minutes 


4 x 230-280g (8-10 oz) sweet potatoes, washed well  
6 cloves garlic 
1 tbsp olive oil  
3 tbsp cayenne pepper 
2 tsp onion powder   
2 tsp thyme   
2 tsp sugar   
1 tsp ground cumin   
2 tsp salt   
1 tsp paprika   
1 tsp ground allspice   
½ tsp ground black pepper    
½ tsp ground nutmeg   
¼ tsp ground cinnamon   
2 cups butter, softened 
4 tbsp chives, finely chopped  


  1. Preheat the oven 180C (360F). Place sweet potatoes on a sheet tray or in a heatproof dish. Toss garlic with a little olive oil and wrap in foil. Roast potatoes and garlic for 1 hour. 
  1. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and then fold in the softened butter and roasted garlic. 
  1. Once the potatoes are tender, cut a slit and smear in some spiced butter. Top with chives and serve. 

Malfatti ricotta and spinach dumplings

‘Malfatti’ means ‘badly made’ and means that it’s perfectly fine if your dumplings are a little misshapen. Get a head start on this recipe by drain the ricotta the day before you make them. If you’re not serving the malfatti with the steak, they are also delicious with burnt butter and sage.  

Serves 4-6  

Time 1 hour 30 minutes, plus overnight ricotta draining 


450g (1 lb) ricotta
900g (2 lb) spinach or 450g (1 lb) frozen spinach, very well drained
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks
1 egg
freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups heavy (pouring) cream
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to taste
½ cup panko breadcrumbs


  1. Put ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl and let drain overnight in the refrigerator. (If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can also use a new, damp kitchen cloth, doubled over.) Measure 1¼ cups drained ricotta and reserve any remaining ricotta for another use. 
  1. Wilt spinach in a large pan, cooking over medium heat until soft, around 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain and cool. When cool, squeeze hard with your hands to expel more liquid. Transfer spinach to the centre of a clean tea towel, fold up tightly and squeeze to expel remaining liquid. Finely chop cooked, dried spinach. 
  1. Transfer spinach to a large bowl with drained ricotta, 1 tsp salt, flour, nutmeg, egg yolks, and egg. Season with pepper and mix until smooth.  
  1. Test one dumpling to check consistency: bring a small pot of water to the boil. Spoon out 1 tbsp of mixture, roll in extra flour and boil until the dumpling floats. If dumpling falls apart, stir ¼ cup extra flour into the mixture. 
  1. Using a spoon, divide mixture into 40 pieces, roll into balls round and dust with flour. 
  1. Transfer dumplings to a lightly floured baking sheet as you go. (If not cooking immediately, cover and freeze malfatti for up to 6 months.) 
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add dumplings, cooking in batches for 1-2 minutes until they float.  
  1. Meanwhile, heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.  
  1. Add the cream and salt to taste, then add the cooked dumplings and simmer until nice and coated. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to serve.

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