Mardi Gras, the New Orleans celebration of Fat Tuesday which is marked by eating, drinking and parading. The raucous event preceding the start of Lent will soon be upon us. Let’s face it, Mardi Gras is an excuse to party, or at least host friends over for a festive dinner. And gumbo in its many variations is at the heart of Mardi Gras celebrations.
So what is gumbo anyway? It’s a hearty soup made with a medium or dark roux, which is a combination of slowly roasted flour and butter or oil. Meat or seafood, or even vegetables are added, then simmered together with the “trinity” of Louisiana seasonings - onion, celery, and bell pepper. Then other ingredients are added, particularly the Louisiana cured sausage called Andouille.
According to Emeril Lagasse, the New Orleans and former Food Network chef, gumbo, hearty and brimming with fresh ingredients, is everybody’s favorite in Louisiana. But some people hesitate to make gumbo, thinking it requires a great deal of time and energy to prepare. It may have something to do with what he calls “rouxphobia” or fear of making roux. But really, it’s easy.
Emeril says that every Louisianian worth his or her salt can whip up a roux for gumbo in a heartbeat. There are light, also called “blond” by the Cajuns, medium and dark roux, the color of each depending on how long it’s cooked. The lighter rouxs are caramel colored and the flavor is more delicate, so it doesn’t overpower dishes relying on subtle flavors. On the other hand, deep chocolate-colored brown roux is intensely dark-colored and flavorful. In any case, roux is the most important part of any gumbo, for it not only is the thickening agent which gives the dish its consistency, but it also provides that wonderful flavor.
Locally, we have access to some of the area’s most outstanding gumbo through chefs Don and Kate Applebaum, whose tiny Cajun Kate’s six-stool stall in nearby Booth’s Corner Farmer’s Market. Both spent time in cooking in New Orleans, Don at Emeril’s Café NOLA in the French Quarter, and Kate with chef Susan Spicer at her acclaimed New Orleans restaurant Bayona. So they know their gumbo. Don says that every week is Mardi Gras for them.
An easy solution for serving gumbo, other than purchasing it, is selective use of prepared ingredients, such as a rotisserie chicken, and a sprinkling of purchased Creole seasoning. Also, measure ingredients ahead of time and you will be ready to go - quick and easy.
Check the roundup below to explore the many ways my Sunday Supper friends have dreamed up for simple and easy Mardi Gras dishes.
Andouille and Chicken Gumbo
Many recipes for and variations on classic gumbo are available. This one uses chicken, but seafood could easily be substituted.
Roux: equal amounts of flour and butter or oil. Try ½ cup of each for a family serving, or 1 cup each for a large pot.
1 rotisserie chicken, skin off and cut or shredded into bite-size mouthfuls
1 large onion, diced
2-3 (1 cup) red or green bell peppers, chopped
1 ½ cup celery, chopped
2-3 chopped green onions, white parts only
2-3 garlic cloves, diced
4 cups canned chicken stock
2 tbs Creole seasoning mix (Zatarain’s or similar)
1 lb Andouille sausage, ¼ in slices
1 bay leaf (fish out before serving)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp thyme
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Salt pepper and cayenne to taste
3 cups steamed rice
Optional: 3 tsp file powder
For the roux, melt butter or drizzle oil in saucepan, then heat under med-low temperature. Add flour quickly and stir continuously, watching for the roux to thicken and start to turn color. Take off heat when the desired color is achieved.
For the gumbo: In a Dutch oven or large pot, sauté the holy trinity of ingredients with parsley, bay leaf and thyme. Add the roux, stirring to combine. Slowly add chicken stock and the Andouille, add chicken. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire and cayenne to taste. If available, add file powder just before serving over cooked rice.
Sunday Supper Wonderful and Easy Mardi Gras Recipes:
- Andouille and Crawfish Pimento Cheese Fries by Soulfully Made
- Hot Louisiana Shrimp Dip by Sprinkles and Sprouts
- Mardi Gras Muffaletta Dip by For the Love of Food
- Piquant Shrimp Balls by Food Lust People Love
- Trinidadian doubles by Caroline’s Cooking
- Andouille and Chicken Gumbo by Delaware Girl Eats
- Bananas Foster French Toast by A Mind “Full” Mom
- Bananas Foster Baked Oatmeal by Cooking With Carlee
- Blackened Shrimp Pasta by Seduction in the Kitchen
- Cajun Courtbouillon by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Cajun Pasta Carnivale by Palatable Pastime
- Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo by The Freshman Cook
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta by Wholistic Woman
- Creole Beef and Rice Bowls by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Easy Shrimp and Grits Recipe by Life Tastes Good
- Gluten Free Gumbo by Cricket’s Confections
- Gumbo Z’herbes by Monica’s Table
- Hawaiian Jambalaya by Shockingly Delicious
- Overnight Muffuletta Sandwich by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya by The Crumby Cupcake
- Spicy Jambalaya Flatbread by My Life Cookbook
- Tenderloin Grillades with Cheesy Grits by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Vegetarian Muffaletta Sandwich by Hardly A Goddess
- Creole Potato Salad by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Easy Buttermilk Cornbread by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Muffaletta Wedge Salad by Shaken Together
- New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch by Tara’s Multicultural Table
- Not So Dirty Rice by Simple and Savory
- Red Beans and Rice by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Bananas Foster by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Basic Bread Pudding by What Smells So Good?
- Bourbon Vanilla Cherries Jubilee by Pies and Plots
- Mardi Gras Cheese Ball by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Easy Mini King Cake Bites by Family Around The Table
- New Orleans Mardi Gras Beignets by Big Bear’s Wife
- Pecan Praline Cookies by Sunday Supper Movement
- Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake by Curious Cuisiniere
- White Chocolate-Raspberry Bread Pudding by Gourmet Everyday
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