Celebrate Mardi Gras with New Orleans comfort foods
–by Jennifer Ruple
PUBLICATION DATE: 02.21.17
From its colorful parades and strands of gold, green, and purple beads to its jovial music and fabulous foods, the celebration of Mardi Gras is already in full swing throughout New Orleans.
Mardi Gras, the French term for Fat Tuesday, signifies the last day to eat rich foods before the fast of Lent begins. Fat Tuesday, always the day before Ash Wednesday, is approaching quickly on February 28. So, whether you’re planning to revel in the festivities on the streets of the French Quarter or just want to experience some of the ambiance in your own kitchen with family and friends, here are a handful of classic New Orleans dishes to get you in the celebration mood.
Sauces for Shrimp
To get the party started, whip up these tangy sauces from the iconic New Orleans restaurant, The Court of Two Sisters. Remoulade gets its kick from horseradish and Creole mustard, and the cocktail sauce is a classic. Both are perfect as a dip for boiled shrimp.
Makes 3 cups
2 cups Creole mustard
4 tablespoons celery, diced
4 stalks green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
⅓ cup salad oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons garlic, pureed
1 dash salt
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Chill completely.
(Recipe adapted from The Court of Two Sisters Cookbook, Pelican Publishing Company, 2000)
Classic Cocktail Sauce
Makes 1 ¼ cups
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pepper
1 dash salt
In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate well.
(Recipe from The Court of Two Sisters Cookbook, Pelican Publishing Company, 2000)
Originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, the hearty muffuletta is built on a round loaf of bread. Look for bread that is crusty on the outside and soft in the middle, good for soaking up the oil in the olive mixture. For a twist on tradition and extra herb flavor, try it on focaccia.
Makes 8 servings
16-ounce jar giardiniera, drained and finely chopped
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
¼ cup capers, drained
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 round loaves Portuguese or Italian bread
⅔ pound sliced smoked deli ham
½ pound sliced mortadella
½ pound sliced Genoa salami
½ pound sliced provolone cheese
½ pound sliced Monterey Jack cheese
In a medium bowl, combine giardiniera, olives, green olives, capers, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before using.
Slice bread in half horizontally. Layer ham, mortadella, salami, provolone, and Monterey Jack on bottom half of cut side of bread. Spread 1 cup olive mixture on top of each sandwich. Top with remaining bread half. Cut each sandwich into 4 wedges.
(Recipe from Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate)
The Big Easy Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
And I do mean easy. If you’ve never made gumbo before, this is a great recipe to learn from. The trickiest part is preparing the roux – just keep your eyes on it the entire cooking time and whisk it often. On another note, the filé (fee-lay) powder, used for thickening and additional flavor, may be difficult to find in our neck of the woods. My gumbo was quite thick without it.
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrots
½ pound andouille sausage, chopped
3-4 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons filé powder, if you can find it
Chopped fresh thyme for garnish
In a small pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk vigorously until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until a brown roux forms, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add canola oil. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, and carrots, and cook stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, and cook until lightly browned. Add roux, and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in 3 cups of broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to boil. Stir in chicken, Cajun seasoning, and filé powder. An additional 1 cup of broth can be added for a slightly thinner gumbo. Garnish with chopped thyme.
(Recipe adapted from louisianacookin.com)