How to Make Pain Perdu, with Leigh Ann Chatagnier
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This cookbook author found her love of food in Louisiana—and now she's sharing her favorite Cajun brunch recipe.
Sunday brunch is one of those meals you look forward to all week. It can be sweet and simple or a multi-course soiree. In Leigh Ann Chatagnier’s case, it’s breakfast with a Cajun twist.
Leigh Ann first became interested in cooking with her mom, who was a “huge home cook” growing up in Tennessee. But after she met her husband and moved to Louisiana, she discovered Cajun food and immediately fell in love.
“To me Cajun food is not just the recipe, it’s the experience,” Leigh Ann says. “It’s always about bringing loved ones together. Cajun culture in general is just very family-oriented and very welcoming.”
In her book Modern Cajun Cooking, she shares classic recipes like crawfish cake eggs Benedict and muffuletta sliders, as well as unexpected takes like Cajun tuna poke bowls and a satsuma Bundt cake. It also includes a recipe for pain perdu!
What Is Pain Perdu?
Pain perdu is French for “lost bread”. In New Orleans, it’s a twist on classic French toast, but with a splash of booze. Leigh Ann’s recipe calls for brandy, but you can use any dark liquor—like bourbon, whiskey or even dark rum.
Covering this satisfying bread with luxurious whipped cream and beautiful berries certainly makes for a wow-worthy dish, but pain perdu doesn’t need to be fancy.
“If you have leftover hot dog buns or hamburger buns, it makes really delicious pain perdu,” she says, “I call that a mom trick.”
How to Make New Orleans-Style Pain Perdu
courtesy Leigh Ann Chatagnier
This recipe is special to Leigh Ann because she discovered it during her wedding weekend. “We got married in New Orleans and this is a brunch item we had while we were there,” she says.
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup brandy
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 8 thick-cut slices challah bread
- ¼ cup almonds, blanched and sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup strawberries, sliced
- Powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Combine eggs, milk, sugar, brandy, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour mixture over bread in a large bowl and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
- Place almond slices in a medium, flat bowl or on a large plate.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and let it melt.
- Dip a piece of soaked bread into the almonds on one side, then place in the skillet, almond side down. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, turning when the first side is browned. Place on a baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remaining 7 slices.
- Bake all slices in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the custard is thoroughly cooked through.
- Serve warm topped with fresh berries. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with maple syrup, to taste.