Dixie: Dishing on Mardi Gras

Throw on the beads, a mask and a wild outfit, then gather your friends and cook up some of these recipes for a Mardi Gras party!

Easter isn’t until late April, which makes “Fat Tuesday” seem awfully late this year, but not too late to celebrate.

Jambalaya (casserole type) and gumbo (more like soup) come to mind whenever thinking of Louisiana, especially at Mardi Gras.

My husband’s brother, Gordon, lived in New Orleans for many years and was deep into the foods and culture of the area since he married Miss June, a New Orleans native who could mix up red beans and rice like you never had before.

She claimed that jambalaya, a Spanish/French creation, was simply a base of rice cooked in broth with cayenne and paprika seasonings with just about anything added: crawfish, shrimp, chicken or sausage.

She warned that it always must have the “trinity” (celery, bells peppers and onions).

She said gumbo is a West Africa/French Louisiana soup using Ki ngombo (okra), and that it isn’t gumbo if it doesn’t have okra for thickening and great flavor. She also thought the trinity and roux are “must” ingredients.

Then, add what you want: seafood, poultry, vegetables and, some say, the kitchen sink. Serve on rice.

Roux is generally made with equal parts of butter, oil or shortening. Heat fat choice in skillet over medium heat. I use a fork (or whisk) to mix in the flour. Cutting heat to low, stir until brown and thick; add to pot and make your gumbo.

I admit to using a flour/chicken broth thickening mixture, which probably breaks the gumbo law.

So have at it! Using creative freedom, I made what I call “gumbolaya,” to fit the tastes of one Iowa boy (my husband, Fred) who likes corn better than okra.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Note: There are some great Creole seasonings and thickening agents to check out in our local supermarkets.

Dixie’s “Gumbolaya”

3 cans (15 ounces each) chicken broth
1 pound chicken breasts cut in bite sized chunks
1 1/2 cups sliced and browned Kielbasa
1 cup medium shrimp
1 can (15 ounces) stewed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup each diced red and green bell peppers
1 1/4 cups each, corn and petite peas
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced celery
3/4 cups Minute Instant Brown Rice
Tabasco Jalapeno sauce, cayenne pepper and salt to taste

Sauté peppers, onion, celery and garlic. Add cut up chicken, Kielbasa and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer for approximately 20 minutes until chicken is done, add brown rice, corn, shrimp, peas, simmer until rice and shrimp are done. Add a roux if desired.

Simple Shrimp Creole

From http://www.aboutseafood.com.
Servings: 5.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups all-natural chicken broth
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
10 ounces frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper – or to taste.
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, celery, garlic. Cook until tender. Add broth, tomatoes, corn, sugar, and cayenne pepper; bring to boil, simmer 10–15 minutes. Bring mixture back to boil, add the shrimp; cook until just cooked through, 3–5 minutes. Season with salt/pepper.

Source: Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD & Liz Weiss, MS, RD Cofounders, Meal Makeover Moms.com

Catfish Gumbo

From http://www.aboutseafood.com.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic chopped
4 cups beef broth
One 16-ounce can tomatoes
One 10-ounce package frozen sliced okra
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
4 catfish fillets cut into 1 inch cubes (we use cod)
Cooked rice

Heat oil in large stockpot. Sauté celery, green pepper, onion and garlic. Add beef broth, tomatoes, okra, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, oregano and salt. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add fish, simmer 15 minutes or until catfish flakes easily. Remove bay leaf. Serve over cooked rice.


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