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As a kid in Louisiana, I liked Mardi Gras, but I don’t think I had a full appreciation of what a crazy time of year it really is. And how could I? I mean, I looked forward to catching beads as much as any other 7 year old, but really the best part for me was going to parties and eating great food. Now that I live in the Northwest, Fat Tuesday isn’t much celebrated at all, although I still look forward to making some great food for friends and family. If you’re thinking of gathering some friends for a Mardi Gras dinner, then I’ve got some menu ideas for you. Some easy, some a bit more complicated. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

Gumbo for a Group

Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Cocktail

I’ve been making this gumbo recipe since high school, which was longer ago than I’d like to admit. It’s based on a recipe from River Road Recipes II and it’s served me well. I like it because you can vary it so easily by substituting crab for shrimp, or tossing in some oysters or using chorizo if you can’t find andouille. Any which way, it’s delicious. It will take a big chunk of time out of your day, but it’s well worth it.

Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo (serves 8-10)

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 16oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 pounds frozen or fresh okra
  • oil for frying okra
  • 2 quarts hot water
  • 3.5 Tbsp. salt
  • .75 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • .25 tsp dried thyme
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 1 pound andouille sausage. sliced and cooked in separate pan to remove some fat
  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
  • 1.5 pounds peeled/deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Make a dark roux in a large heavy pot. (heat oil then add flour. Stir over low heat until roux darkens. You’re looking for a dark caramel color. Careful not to burn it or you’ll have to start again. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour)

Add onions and garlic, cook until onions are transparent. Add tomatoes and cook on low heat until oil rises to top (about 30 minutes) stirring frequently.

In a separate skillet fry okra in oil on moderately high heat, stirring constantly until okra is no longer stringy. Add okra to other mixture and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring.

Add water, salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Add other seasonings, sausage and chicken and simmer about 20 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through. Add shrimp and simmer until cooked. Check seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove from heat and stir in green onions and parsley. Serve over white rice.

Green Salad (any style you like)

Traditional King Cake


Jambalaya Family Dinner

Sazerac Cocktail Makes One:

  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1½ ounces (35ml) Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • ¼ ounce Herbsaint or Absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Lemon peel
  • Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice
  • In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube
  • Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar
  • Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint
  • Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel

Hot Crawfish Dip

Eula May’s Chicken and Ham Jambalaya

Braised Collard Greens

Lemon Icebox Pie

Simple Weeknight Mardi Gras Dinner

Oysters Rockefeller

Wine Pairing: Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Muffaletta Sandwiches (do not use focaccia as this recipe states. A french bread style roll will be better)

Overnight Layered Salad

  • One head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • one bunch green onions, chopped
  • one bag (10oz) frozen peas, dethawed and drained
  • two green bell peppers chopped
  • one sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla) chopped
  • 8 slices bacon cooked and broken into pieces
  • 1.5 cup sour cream
  • 1.5 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Layer vegetables in order listed in glass bowl. Mix sour cream, mayo, sugar and garlic salt together. Pour over top of salad. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and refrigerate overnight.
Wine Pairing: Sangiovese-based wine like Chianti or Rosso di Montepulciano
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