On my fuck it list, yes you read correctly, it’s like a bucket list, but better! Is Mardi Gras! There is a line in an episode of King of Queens where Doug and Carrie are planning a trip to the French Quarter, New Orleans, (N’ar lens), and she says ” I plan on going to Mardi Gras, and I will be showin’ my boobs.” I know I butchered the line, but it’s an inside joke with me and my fireman, because I joke I want to go to Mardis Gras while my boobs are still perky enough to garner some beads! Well that, and I just want to party on Bourbon Street and listen to some kick ass jazz! Oh and then there is the food, I love. LOVE, Cajun food! The spicier the better! The best Cajun food I ever had, was at a restaurant called Chez Foushee when I use to travel to Richmond, Virgina for work. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing the crawfish was, or “crawdaddies” as they refer to them on the Bayou. So when Fat Tuesday comes around, since my children were very little, we celebrate, as it is the way I would get my angels ready for lent. Which is the purpose of Fat Tuesday, it’s a celebration of indulgence before Ash Wednesday, in the Catholic religion which is the start of lent.
My go to dishes for Mardi Gras, are the usual fare, but I throw a curve ball. I like to use chorizo in my dishes instead of the Andouille. I like the spice of the chorizo. So for my dirty rice, I am using chorizo , shhh…it will be our secret. So I will make the traditional jambalaya with andouille, use the chorizo in my dirty rice, and round it off with my Shrimp Etouffee and even a twist on King Cake. So even if you are not able to get to Bourbon Street this Fat Tuesday, you can still party like you’re there, and who knows maybe you too, will get the urge to show your stuff for beads!
1/4 cup chicken livers (about 4 ounces), pureed, (this is necessary to the dish, it gives it depth and richness) I don’t tell my kids it’s in there!
1/2 tsp. of file powder (file is a creole seasoning from the Sassafras root, and is used to thicken gumbos and other creole dishes) I like the earthiness of it so I use a teeny bit!
2 tsp. of Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 cups cooked rice (white preferred) I do use brown
1/2 bunch scallions (white and green parts), chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork and chicken livers and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the salt, black pepper, and Cajun seasoning, file powder, resist the urge to stir frequently: You want the meat to stick to the pan and get crusty you need the flavor.
Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and cook until it has evaporated, allowing the meat mixture to get browned and crusty and stick to the pan once again. Add the onion, celery, garlic, jalapeño, and oregano and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are nicely browned and crusty and beginning to stick to the pan.
Add the rice, the remaining 1 1/4 cups broth, the scallions, and parsley. Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is heated through.
1 quart of shrimp stock (Use the shells from your shrimp to make a stock with onion scraps, celery tops, and seasoning) Waste not, want not or you can use vegetable broth as it is milder than chicken stock for this dish.
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 pounds of shrimp
bunch of flat leaf parsley
steamed white rice is classically used, (I used brown for my dish)
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until the color of peanut butter, 5 to 7 minutes. This takes time and you need to be vigilant this can burn very easily if the heat is too high or you leave it unattended, so don’t do that or you will need to begin the process over again, you will not be able to salvage a burnt roux! Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the shrimp stock.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season the shrimp, and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.
Serve immediately over steamed white rice, and garnish with scallion, green tops. Devour!
4 chicken thighs, 2 chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, skin on
1 lb. of Andouille sausage sliced or chorizo
1 green pepper chopped small
1 small onion diced
garlic clove minced
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1 tsp. of file powder
1 32 oz container of chicken stock
1 tbsp. of Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. of flour
kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
11/2 tbsp. of canola oil
steamed white or brown rice for serving a top the Jambalaya
In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, add canola oil and begin searing the chicken skin side down. Do not fuss with, let it do its thing for about three to four minutes then turn over and brown for three minutes on other side. When browned, remove to a plate. You will cook through in the sauce.
Add 1 tbsp. of canola oil, and add the trinity, (celery, green pepper, onion) and garlic. Sautee for about three minutes until soft. Add flour and make a roux. Add chicken stock, seasonings, stir, add tomatoes crushing with hand as you add into the pot, add juice from tomatoes as well. Add chicken back to pot, as well as sliced Andouille. Simmer for 30 min. to meld flavors and thicken. Before serving, I like to remove the chicken skin, and dice the chicken. But you can leave whole if you prefer.
While jambalaya is cooking you can begin your rice so it will be ready for the jambalaya.
Serve in bowls with the rice on the bottom and jambalaya over the top. Devour!
A simplified version of a a must-have on Fat Tuesday!
***When I had more time and energy, I use to make my sweet roll recipe for this but I don’t have the time or the inclination, because this works nicely. When my kids were little they use to call this the “baby cake”, since a traditional kings cake has a plastic baby baked in for good luck, or as some folks believe, a new baby to anyone who finds the baby in their piece of cake. This is more of a ring dessert then a cake, but so yummy with the cinnamon and nuts. If there are nut allergies you may omit!
Credit: CrazySexySavor.com/Susan Mangieri-Maurath
3 cans of crescent rolls, or if you want to short cut even further, get some cinnamon rolls, I’ve used both I prefer the crescent rolls because I add my own cinnamon filling. Also, you may get lucky and find the crescent roll sheets, my grocery store rarely has these but that would make the job a bit easier.
3/4 cup of chopped toasted pecans (I used walnuts as per my son’s request)
1/4 cup of golden raisins
1/2 pkg. of softened cream cheese
1/4 cup of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of cinnamon
purple, green, and yellow sugar sprinkles
1 cup of confectionary sugar
1 tablespoon of water
1 small plastic baby (I get mine at either a party store in the favor aisle or craft store)
2 tbsp. of melted butter
In microwave melt 2 tbsp. of butter, let cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
On a large cutting board lightly floured, begin to unroll the tubes of crescent dough, now if you are lucky enough to get the crescent roll sheets this will be a breeze, I never find them when I am food shopping, so I just piece together and roll out my crescent rolls to make a unifrom sheet. When you have them pieced together brush with the melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture, then top with pecans and raisins and dollop with softened cream cheese. Do not overfill or rolling will be a bitch!
Begin by rolling up carefully keeping filling intact, patching any holes that pop up. Move to a parchment lined sheet pan to begin forming ring.
Form a freestyle ring, that resembles a King’s crown if you will, now bury your plastic doll in the dough. * If you are making this for children under the age of 5, this is a choke hazard, and I would recommend you do what I use to my kids were little, and put the doll sticking out so the one who bitches the most about getting it can grab it out then tease their siblings, this was usually my youngest! Bake according to crescent roll directions. You may need additional time. Remove from oven, cool several minutes.
In a bowl, mix powdered sugar with a tablespoon of water to spreading consistency. Spread on top of ring. Covering generously. Now the fun part! Let your kids sprinkle the ring with the colored sugar. Then let them fight over who will find the baby in the cake! Enjoy!