I’ve never been to Mardis Gras or New Orleans, but by now you probably know that where there’s an occasion to celebrate with food, you can pretty much count me in. Take yesterday for instance: both Valentine’s Day AND Chinese New Year? I was pretty much falling all over myself with excitement! It was ugly!
And now for even more culinary merry-making: tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, the last hurrah of the Mardi Gras season. Down in New Orleans they’ll be celebrating with parades, over-the-top parties, and all kinds of naughty foods and libations. The following day the party’s over, and Ash Wednesday will mark the beginning of Lent.
What are you going to give up? I haven’t decided yet. Maybe I’ll give up playing hooky from spin class. (*rolls eyes*.)
Anyway, here are two great recipes to help you celebrate Fat Tuesday tomorrow. I think they’re both terrific! Red Beans and Rice are traditional Cajun / Creole fair – so down to earth and homey. This short-cut version won’t win any beauty contests, but if you can get past that it is yuuuummy! I used andouille sausage (on sale through tomorrow) in mine, but you could tone down the spiciness by using regular kielbasa. The list of ingredients is short and the dish will come together in no time, you’ll just need to allow about an hour for it to simmer away on the stove.
Along with simple roasted asparagus on the side, I’m also going to serve these delicious spicy baked shrimp. These are more of an appetizer, but I thought they’d be a fun addition to a Fat Tuesday table…what the heck, the shrimp are on sale! These are so outstanding – and you’ll want to serve a hunk of crusty French bread alongside them to soak up the sweet and spicy sauce. Heavenly!
Oh, and by the way – if you’re looking for a nice wine pairing – my friend Kevin at the Mequon store suggested either the Cline Red Zinfandel (around $11.00), or the Michel Picard Vouvray (also $11.00). I can’t wait for 5:00! J
SHORT CUT RED BEANS & RICE
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, sliced into ½” thick rounds (Usinger’s Andouille is on sale)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 14 ½ oz. cans kidney beans (undrained)
- 1 c. low-salt chicken broth (Imagine Organic Broth is on sale)
- 1 t. Creole or Cajun seasoning (I used Emeril’s Bayou Blast)
- 3 c. hot cooked rice
Heat olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage, onion, and garlic and sauté until onion is brown, about 15 minutes. Mix in kidney beans with their juices, broth, and Creole seasoning. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until flavors are blended and mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally, about one hour. (I took the lid off toward the end to let mine reduce a little more).
Divide cooked rice among large shallow soup bowls. Spoon bean mixture over rice and serve.
SPICY BAKED SHRIMP
- ½ c. olive oil
- 2 T. Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 2 T. fresh lemon juice
- 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
- 1 T. honey
- 1 T. soy sauce
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 lb. raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Lemon wedges
- Warm French bread
Combine the first 7 ingredients in a 9×13” baking dish. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450. Bake shrimp until they’re cooked through, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve shrimp with French bread.
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