Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, has been celebrated throughout southern parts of the U.S. for many years, particularly in New Orleans. What started as a Christian holiday is now a widely recognized occasion that features many festive traditions, such as colorful beads and a lot of good food. Try these classic Mardi Gras dishes to celebrate the exciting day this year.
1. Chicken-Andouille Gumbo
Want to enjoy Mardi Gras with a truly Southern meal? Chicken-andouille gumbo is the perfect dish to bring to a Mardi Gras party or to simply enjoy with your friends or family in honor of the festive event.
- 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 cup peanut oil
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
- 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
- 1 (48-oz.) container chicken broth
- 2 lbs. skinned and boned chicken breasts
To start, cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the sausage from the pan and pat dry with a paper towel. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add the flour gradually and cook, whisking often. After 18-20 minutes, or until flour is caramel-colored, reduce heat to low and continue cooking. Whisk constantly for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is the color of milk chocolate and the texture is smooth.
Increase the heat to medium and stir in onion. Add the next four ingredients and ground red pepper, if preferred. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually pour in the chicken broth, followed by the sausage and chicken. Turn up heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Shred the chicken into large pieces with two forks. Place the roasted potatoes in serving bowls and spoon gumbo over potatoes before serving.
2. Traditional Southern Jambalaya
Jambalaya is a classic Mardi Gras rice dish that's known for being packed with protein and a variety of rich flavors.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped celery
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning, or to taste
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- 1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp (30-40 per lb.)
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for 2 minutes before stirring in the bell pepper, celery and onion. Season with Cajun seasoning and salt. Cook and stir for 6-8 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Add the rice until the vegetable mixture is evenly coated. Pour in the chicken broth, tomatoes with juice, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes covered.
Stir in the shrimp and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered, until the shrimp turn pink and are no longer translucent in the center. Remove from the heat and let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves and serve.
Muffuletas are tasty Italian sandwiches that have become popular in the South. The unique combination of meats and tangy hint of olive make it a delicious treat for Mardi Gras.
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 10 large pitted green olives, chopped
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (1 lb.) round bread loaf (about 7 in. in diameter and 3 in. high)
- 4 oz. thinly sliced ham
- 4 oz. thinly sliced mortadella
- 4 oz. thinly sliced salami
- 4 oz. sliced provolone
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 oz. arugula leaves
Put the first three ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together. Gradually add the oil and stir in the roasted peppers and olives. Season with salt, pepper and vinaigrette to taste. Cut the top inch of the bread loaf and set aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread. Then, spread the roasted pepper and olive mixture over the bottom and cut side of the bread top. Layer the cheeses and meats in the bread bottom and top with onions and arugula. Spread the rest of the roasted pepper and olive mix on top of the sandwich and cover with the bread top. If you want the sandwich chilled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for one day, or cut into wedges and serve immediately.