The Dishes Emeril Lagasse Loves To Cook At Home - Exclusive

As a chef, it's hard to put Emeril Lagasse into a category. He's a pioneer of modern, elevated Cajun cuisine; he's a master of classic French cooking going back to his school days; he's familiar with the bountiful ingredients of the northeastern U.S. where he grew up; he's said that his Portuguese mother was one of the biggest influences on his cooking; and anyone who's watched his shows knows that he can whip up delicious meals across cuisines, with his recipe repertoire spanning Italian, Mexican, and Asian cuisines.

With such an expansive culinary range, it's easy to wonder and hard to figure out exactly what kind of food Lagasse loves the most. For a chef who has cooked professionally for decades, both on TV and in fine dining restaurants, he can make anything he wants at home. So when we got the chance to catch up in an exclusive interview with Lagasse recently on his recent projects, we had to ask the chef what dishes he turns to when he's cooking for himself. 

Lagasse pays homage to his mom when cooking at home

For so many of us, the home cooking that most satisfies the soul and the stomach tends to be comforting, familiar, and often nostalgic favorites — whether it's our go-to rotation of dishes or family recipes enjoyed during childhood and passed down through generations. This is certainly true for Emeril Lagasse. While he may be plating up some of the finest New American and Cajun food New Orleans has to offer in his restaurants, when Lagasse is cooking for himself, he goes back to his roots.

"In the house ... I go back to my mom," he told Tasting Table. Lagasse's mother, Hilda, has been a prominent figure throughout Lagasse's career. He's credited her with much of his success and even shared many of her beloved recipes on his shows over the years. When he's looking to honor her legacy in the kitchen, Lagasse turns to some of her most delicious and devoured recipes. "Her caldo verde is people's favorite," he noted. The traditional soup is made with potatoes, Portuguese sausage, and kale, and it is hearty, nourishing, and perfect for warming up on cold nights. 

Lagasse also added that his mom's "Portuguese roast pork and clams are always great." Lagasse marinates the pork with a smoky paprika dry rub before letting it roast slowly over the stove with aromatics, white wine, and herbs. Fresh clams are added for the final touch before the dish is served with crusty bread, creating a perfect balance of rich and robust flavors punctuated by bright and fresh notes. And for Lagasse, it's also a perfect meal that pays tribute to his first culinary hero, and one of his favorite foods. "Anything with seafood and fish, I'm there. Sign me up."

Lagasse also like playing with pasta at home

On the other hand, when Lagasse feels like shelving the staple recipes and trying something new and adventurous, the chef says he loves making pasta by hand at home. "I got this really simple little pasta machine that I'm using right now, [to] just crank out a bunch of different pastas in all different shapes."

Of course, that takes a lot of work and energy, especially for someone who already spends so much of their time in the kitchen, so Lagasse says, "I always find myself going back to the dry pasta too because this is something that from growing up — [I'm] used to that dry pasta thing, particularly rigatoni, spicy rigatoni." And when Lagasse is feeling lazy, we can only imagine what kind of super simple yet succulent sauce he can whip up to toss over a box of pasta — though we're pretty certain it beats a jar of Ragu and then some.

Watching Emeril Lagasse's newest shows, "Emeril Cooks," and "Emeril Tailgates," available exclusively on the Roku Channel. And visit chef Lagasse's website to learn more about his restaurants.