Chef John's 10 Best Mardi Gras Recipes
True, these are the best recipes for celebrating Mardi Gras. But then, these simple and reliable recipes for New Orleans classics like gumbo, etouffee, po'boys, jambalaya, and bananas foster are perfect for any Tuesday of the year. Try them for Wednesday and Thursday dinners, too. You'll love them on any day of the week ending in day.
Creole Crab Noodles
Here's some flavorful fusion food for Mardi Gras! "Crab, and its old friends, the Holy Trinity, are a classic combo, and so it was no surprise they worked so well in an Asian-style rice noodle dish – an experiment gone right. Garnish with sliced green onion," says Chef John.
Chef John's Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya
For this one-pot rice dish, you'll sauté smoky andouille sausage with spices and aromatic vegetables to create a very flavorful base. "While true jambalaya is really more of a thicker rice stew than a soup, it's one of those dishes that more stock can be added to easily make it into a soup recipe," says Chef John.
Chef John's Shrimp Etouffee
Here's Chef John's take on a spicy New Orleans classic. You can also make this tremendous all-purpose gravy with chicken or pork. "I prefer this with little chunks of browned chicken or pork, actually," says Chef John.
Baked Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Leave the stovetop behind with Chef John's baked gumbo! "Gumbo doesn't have to be hard," says Chef John. "Instead of slowly cooking and stirring a roux for what seems like forever, try this alternative baked method. It's not a shortcut per se, but cooking it in the oven will save you from having to stand over the stove for hours. Serve hot with a spoonful of white rice."
Cajun Chicken Ragout
Pulled chicken, Cajun sausage, and peppers stew in a rich, spicy gravy. "This is an old, personal favorite recipe of mine," says Chef John. "While not totally authentic, it celebrates the fabulous flavors of Cajun cuisine. Serve this thick sauce over rice."
Chef John's Red Beans and Rice
There are any number of ways you can make red beans and rice, but, says Chef John, only two ways you can serve it -- thin and soupy or thick and creamy. "Any time someone asks the question, 'What exactly is soul food?' the answer should always be 'a comforting bowl of red beans and rice.' Just sit them down, give them a spoon, and when they finish, ask them if they understand. They will."
Creole Crab and Corn Chowder
This New Orleans-friendly crab and corn chowder os the perfect soup for celebrating Mardi Gras. "Ideally you would make this in the middle of summer with ears of fresh, sweet-as-sugar corn," says Chef John. "You can also make a perfectly fine version of this chowder using a premium-quality, extra-sweet, frozen corn."
Firecracker Shrimp Roll with Crab Aioli
Chef John created this recipe to celebrate the Fourth of July. But he'll tell you, it's actually a thinly disguised shrimp po'boy sandwich. "I decided to do an extra spicy version, and give it a 4th of July-friendly name, but the soul of the sandwich is the same, and features an insanely great combination of hot, crunchy shrimp, and cold crabby mayo," says Chef John.
Chef John's Duck, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo
Chef John adds a flavorful ham hock to aromatic vegetables, along with the smoky andouille sausage and braised duck legs, and finishes things off with okra and shellfish. "This can be made with hundreds of different combinations of smoked meats, game, poultry, and seafood, and in my opinion, the more the merrier," says Chef John. "The procedure is pretty straightforward, although you're talking about a full day's project. Serve in a large soup plate with a scoop of cooked white rice, a sprinkle of green onion, and a pinch of cayenne."
Chef John's Bananas Foster
"When you think show-stopping, special occasion desserts, you usually don't think simple-and-fast, but that's the case with bananas Foster," says Chef John. "This delicious New Orleans classic only has a few ingredients, and takes just minutes to make. Except for the folks that burn their houses down, everybody loves this recipe."