Mardi Gras Meals
Celebrate Mardi Gras New Orleans style — without leaving your kitchen
Photographs by Ben Fink/CIA
Whether or not you have ever been to a Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, you’ve surely heard the tales of wild partying in the streets, outlandish costumes, and the acquisition of those famous beads. Mardi Gras — the name means “Fat Tuesday” — always takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday; this year it falls on March 8. If you are not heading south, you can still plan a humdinger of a Mardi Gras celebration right here. While we don’t recommend parading down Poughkeepsie’s Main Street in scanty attire (at least not until it’s a bit warmer), we do suggest that you pay tribute to N’awlins by preparing some mouthwatering Cajun and creole favorites.
The following recipe can be found in the Culinary Institute of America’s One Dish Meals (2006, Lebhar-Friedman) cookbook, which is available for purchase at bookstores nationwide or at CIA’s Web site here.
Makes 5 servings
• 3 Tbsp bacon fat or canola oil
• 1½ cups minced onions
• 1 cup minced celery
• ¾ cup minced green bell pepper
• 2 tsp minced garlic
• 1 Tbsp mild paprika
• ¼ tsp ground white pepper
• ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, or as needed
• 1/8 tsp ground cayenne
• Salt as needed
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups fish or chicken broth, or as needed
• 1¼ pound crawfish tail meat with fat
• 3 Tbsp butter
• 1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green portions
• ¼ cup basil chiffonade (cut into fine threads)
• 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat the bacon fat or oil in a casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers.
2. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about six minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, and garlic; cover the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika, white and black pepper, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about one minute.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and pasty, about three minutes. Add the broth and stir well to work out any lumps. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the crawfish tails and their fat. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until the crawfish is cooked through and very hot, eight to 10 minutes. Add a little more broth as needed throughout the cooking time if the étouffée is getting too thick. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
4. Add the butter, scallions, basil, and parsley and stir to combine. Serve the étouffée in heated bowls.
Duck, Shrimp, and Andouille Gumbo
The following recipe is explained and illustrated in the Culinary Institute of America’s Gourmet Meals in Minutes (Lebhar-Friedman, 2004), which is available for purchase at bookstores nationwide or at CIA’s Web site here.
Duck, Shrimp, and Andouille Gumbo
Makes 8 servings
• 2 Tbsp butter
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1½ onions, diced
• 3 celery stalks, diced
• 1 green bell pepper, diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 Tbsp tomato paste
• ¼ cup white wine
• 1 quart chicken broth
• 1 cup tomato puree
• 1 ham hock
• ¾ cup okra, trimmed, cut into ¼-inch slices
• ½ pound andouille sausage, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
• 2 duck breasts (preferably smoked), skinless
• 2 tsp salt, or to taste
• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
• ½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
• ½ tsp hot sauce
1. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and flour to form a roux, and cook over medium heat until dark brown, stirring frequently, about eight to 10 minutes.
2. While the roux is cooking, sauté the onions, celery, and bell pepper in the vegetable oil over medium to medium-high heat until golden brown, about 12–15 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes, or until the aroma of the garlic is noticeable. Add the tomato paste and cook to a rich red-brown color, stirring constantly, about three to four minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and allow the wine to reduce by half.
4. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Whisk the roux into the hot broth, making sure there are no lumps. Add the vegetable mixture and stir well. Add the tomato purée, ham hock, and okra, and simmer for 15–20 minutes.
5. While the gumbo is simmering, cook the andouille in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, about four to five minutes. Remove the andouille from the pan and reserve the fat. Season the duck breasts with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and sauté in the andouille fat over medium-high heat until cooked thoroughly. Once cool enough to handle, cut into medium dice.
6. Season the shrimp with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dry-sear the shrimp in a separate pan over high heat until cooked through, about two to three minutes. Add the shrimp, andouille, and duck to the gumbo along with the tomatoes. Continue to simmer until all the ingredients are heated through. Season with the remaining salt and pepper, and add hot sauce to taste.