The Pantry Items EJ Lagasse Always Has Stocked - Exclusive

EJ Lagasse with olive oil, red beans, and pepper paste
EJ Lagasse with olive oil, red beans, and pepper paste - Static Media / Shutterstock

Everyone has the items in their pantry that they simply cannot live without. However, not everyone comes from a dynasty of extraordinary chefs. We got the chance to interview EJ Lagasse, son of Emeril Lagasse, in an exclusive interview. The younger Lagasse is a talented chef who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and is now returning to the family's flagship New Orleans, Louisiana, restaurant as the chef patron.

While he may spend most of his life in a commercial kitchen, he still has to eat at home, so we wanted to find out what Lagasse always has on hand. Almost immediately, Lagasse told us, "I've always got Portuguese olive oil. That's number one. If I didn't, my grandmother would be rolling in her grave." With a family history in Portugal, it makes sense that Lagasse would prefer this type of olive oil.

Even though some may think of Italian or Spanish olive oil first, Portugal is one of Europe's top olive oil producers. Portuguese olive oil is getting recognized for its quality and distinct flavors. Much like other foods, such as chocolate or coffee, the origin of the base product can affect the taste, such as how fruity or earthy it is. Within Portugal, there are six designated regions for olive oil, each of which provides a unique taste and quality.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Legasse Loves Beans And Chilis For Endless Meal Options

Dish of red beans and rice
Dish of red beans and rice - Burke/triolo Productions

Of course, one can not live off olive oil alone. In addition, Lagasse keeps a New Orleans specialty in stock. "I love having red beans around," said Lagasse. "It's tradition here in New Orleans to make red beans and rice, and I find myself doing that quite frequently." For this, Lagasse does not use the canned variety of beans and instead uses the dry version.

Dry beans require soaking but generally taste better than canned and have a long shelf life. Dry rice, too, has a long shelf life and makes a perfect pantry addition. However, Lagasse humbly acknowledges, "So many people to do it 10 times better. I'm still working on mine."

Lagasse said he's also a big fan of Calabrian chilies for his last pantry staple item. "I put them in about everything when I'm eating at home, whether it be pasta, or in some rice, or if I'm eating a piece of meat or something like that," he explained. Calabrian chilies are hot peppers that offer a smokey and spicy flavor to whatever dish they are added to.

Emeril's New Orleans is now open for dining. For reservations and additional information, please visit Emeril's restaurant website.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.