The Most Popular Dishes On Emeril Lagasse's Menus

You don't get to Emeril Lagasse's level with only a handful of great dishes to your name. He's culinary royalty — especially in New Orleans — who has been wowing diners with impressive dishes for decades on end. From his career-making tenure at gustatory temple Commander's Palace or his eponymous restaurant in the Big Easy, Lagasse has helped define the updated eating scene with what he calls "New New Orleans" cuisine. And, while he offers a bevy of tasty dishes at all his venues, there are some that stand out for their popularity.

In a 2022 exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Lagasse said, "At Emeril's, I think the dish that's excited people again is the retake and remake of Potato Alexa. It's this potato that's layered with a little bit of truffle and it has this truffle cream and it's really delicious." In addition, he continued, patrons love his barbecue shrimp. "It's not your typical barbecue," he explained. "It's a New Orleans barbecue shrimp."

Further proving him out, the Potato Alexa, featuring mushrooms, alliums, and truffle butter, is on both the "Classics" tasting menu and as an option on the three-course menu at Emeril's, while his New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp is available at Emeril's, Delmonico Steakhouse, and Emeril's New Orleans Fish House.

Potato Alexa: a signature dish

The menus at Emeril's reflect his deep respect for the cuisine of the city and his need to innovate. Lagasse's versions of New Orleans' classics mingle with dishes that are wholly his creation. Potato Alexa is firmly in the latter camp, with a recipe appearing in his 2015 cookbook, "Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life in the Kitchen." In the book, he recounts how he served the dish to singer Billy Joel and his daughter Alexa, both of whom enjoyed it. As an homage, Lagasse named the dish "Potatoes Alexa" in honor of Joel's daughter (no word on why it went from plural to singular in the ensuing years). At the time, Lagasse said the dish was a sort of pocket recipe, never fully on the menu at Emeril's, but rather something he would send out as an amuse-bouche or as an extra course for a VIP table.

Lagasse's original Potatoes Alexa sees new potatoes boiled, split, and hollowed out. The potato flesh extracted is mashed with half-and-half, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and truffle oil and added back to the potato shells with a bit of Portobello-truffle emulsion before being baked. Finally, the potatoes are garnished with a bit more of the emulsion, which contains egg, lemon juice, roasted Portobello mushroom, vegetable oil, and truffle oil, as well as a few sprigs of chive.

Barbecue shrimp: a NOLA classic with a twist

Barbecue shrimp is a New Orleans classic, but one often overshadowed by famous brethren gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée. It's a shame, as it is one of the city's more unique culinary contributions. The name belies the preparation, as neither a smoker nor a grill comes into play here. Rather, this dish is a combination of head-on shrimp sautéed in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, and Creole seasoning blend, the shrimps' natural juices intermingling with the pungent sauce. To finish, copious amounts of cold butter are mounted in to enrich the sauce before it is served in a bowl with French bread for sopping.

Naturally, Lagasse takes things up a notch in his own kitchen. While he opts for leaving out the shrimp heads, he does put his signature spin on it by adding in onions, bay leaves, and white wine to the sauce's traditional ingredients and reducing it all to a piquant, syrupy base that is later mounted with cream and butter. He also eschews tradition and opts for biscuits over baguettes. His traditional southern biscuits, according to Emeril's menus, are further flavored with rosemary for an herbaceous element.

While these dishes are among his most famous restaurant offerings, at home it's a different story. There, he told us, he turns to his upbringing by cooking dishes his Portuguese mother made, such as caldo verde and roast pork with clams as well as plenty of fresh pasta.