Big Joe’s Favorite NJ Restaurants and their signature dishes
This week my friends took me out for my birthday and asked me what restaurant I wanted to go to, it’s a tough choice for me because I love so many here in New Jersey. One I truly enjoy is Drew’s Bistro in Keyport. So that’s where we headed. They have lumbered through the pandemic and I am thrilled to say continue to put out outstanding dish after dish with their seasoned staff taking care of their very satisfied customers. Here’s a little background on Drew’s with their signature Jambalaya recipe, Oh is It good!
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro is on my top five list of my all time favorite restaurants. I’ve taken many trips to New Orleans and have experienced the exceptional cuisine that city has to offer. Drew’s, in my opinion, rivals the finest restaurants there or anywhere.
Chef/Owner Drew Araneo serves up Cajun cuisine like no other in his hometown of Keyport, NJ. In my many trips to his restaurant I’ve had the opportunity to sample all but a few of his dishes and have been blown away by his infusion of spices, menu selections and specials that become customer favorites.
Chef Drew’s talent has been duly recognized with many awards including being named a semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award for Chef of the Year Mid-Atlantic region. Chef Drew also had a throw down with Chef and TV personality Bobby Flay serving up his signature dish VooDoo Shrimp and walked away with the win. Chef Drew had some great influence and honed his craft by working with Jersey Shore legendary chef and my good friend the late Joe Romanowski.
Joe had a great restaurant Bay Avenue Trattoria in Highlands, NJ that became the starting block of many of these fine chefs that are in this book. Hurricane Sandy came and wiped out Bay Avenue Trattoria and sadly Joe Romanowski died of cancer shortly after that.
As so many businesses in Keyport and up and down the Jersey Shore were wiped out during Hurricane Sandy, so was Drew’s. Chef Drew and his wife Tracey regrouped with hard work and resilience and moved the restaurant to higher ground to the location where it sits today on Church Street.
You have to go to Drew’s. Try the VooDoo Shrimp, the Gumbo when available, the duck, the pork dishes and the desserts are outstanding! All the desserts are house made including the ice cream!
I am thrilled that Chef Drew is sharing his famous Jambalaya recipe with me for this book. Drew’s is a great place to go with friends and family; the servers are friendly, knowledgeable and have longevity with Chef Drew. Bring your favorite wine or beer and bring your appetite, then you’ll see why Drew’s Bayshore Bistro is on my Top 5 list and soon to be on yours.
Drew’s Bayshore Bistro Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya
¼ cup Canola Oil
1lb of Andouille Sausage (sliced)
1 lb of Tasso Ham (sliced)
1 Onion (med diced)
3 Stalks of Celery (diced)
1 Green Pepper (diced)
1 Red Pepper (diced)
¼ cup of Chopped Garlic
Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add Andouille Sausage and cook until begins to render.
Add vegetables and garlic and cook until vegetables begin to soften. Then add:
½ cup of Cajun Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 tbsp of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
2 tbsp of Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Stir seasonings into vegetables and let cook for about 2 minutes to “wake up” seasonings. Then add:
2 lbs of Chicken (diced)
2 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp of Tabasco sauce (or more!)
2 cups of Diced Tomato
4 cups of Chicken Stock
2 ½ cups of Converted Rice
Bring Jambalaya base to a simmer on lower heat. Let simmer for 12 – 15 minutes and stir in:
2 lbs Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
Cover, return to low heat, 5 minutes, then shut off heat and let stand until rice is cooked. Garnish with Chopped Parsley and Green Onions
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.