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Mardi Gras Ideas


thistle
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I'd like to invite some of my neighbors & coworkers over for a casual Mardi Gras dinner (Feb. 20, Tuesday night). I'm thinking about smoking a Boston butt, shredding it & serving some plain, some w/ an NC vinegar-based bbq sauce. For apps, I'd like to do deviled eggs, pickled shrimp, ham biscuits. I'm planning some sort of vegetarian alternative-red beans & rice? Maybe add a salad, slaw, corn muffins or bread, french bread, & for dessert, I was thinking poundcake, fruit, & shortbread cookies or cupcakes. I'd like to prepare as much as I can in advance..any ideas?

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oysters plain and simple. for dessert, coffee and chicory.

by the way, a song for you:

Thistle

by

Jerry Joseph

Heard the damn was breaking, september 84

I would have set you off a postcard

Mail don't come here anymore

It's always pretty quiet

The conversation lacks

Cause the folks all left here running

They ain't never coming back

[chorus]

Well I'm living here in Thistle

Living here alone

100 feet of water is the place I call my home

Here below the surface there's a church and there's a bank

But there isn't any money

The economy is sank

And as for my sweet Jesus

He ain't no swimming fool

He took off for drier pastures

He ain't hanging round the pool.

[repeat chorus]

And I won't float away

And I'll never float away

Life is pretty simple

There's no need for luxury

Bout the only thing I'm missing is a little company

And in the summer I see children

Looking down here from their boats

I'd like to send them up some loving

I guess loving doesn't float

[repeat chorus x2]

And I won't float away

No, I'll never float away

Hey, I'll never float away

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You can make a King Cake, of course; but, Bananas Foster is such a treat--although bread pudding is more traditional, IIRC. A few years ago, the WaPo featured a transplanted NOLA guy who always threw a Mardi Gras dinner for his friends and included his recipes for Jambalaya, etc.

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I'd like to invite some of my neighbors & coworkers over for a casual Mardi Gras dinner (Feb. 20, Tuesday night). I'm thinking about smoking a Boston butt, shredding it & serving some plain, some w/ an NC vinegar-based bbq sauce. For apps, I'd like to do deviled eggs, pickled shrimp, ham biscuits. I'm planning some sort of vegetarian alternative-red beans & rice? Maybe add a salad, slaw, corn muffins or bread, french bread, & for dessert, I was thinking poundcake, fruit, & shortbread cookies or cupcakes. I'd like to prepare as much as I can in advance..any ideas?
Not to deflate you, but New Orleans has no barbecue tradition whatsover, and, as far as I know, neither does anywhere else in Louisiana that celebrates Mardi Gras.

There's no decent barbecue in the entire state of Louisiana, nor have I found it anywhere closer than Bessemer, Alabama, home of Bob Sykes.

But what the hey? It's a party, so party down.

If you can find crawfish, have a crawfish boil. If you can find shrimp, have a shrimp boil. Too early for a crab boil.

But, if you want to actually be true to the spirit of Mardi Gras -- try gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, shrimp creole, barbecue shrimp, red beans and rice, grillades and grits, all washed down with bloody marys, sazeracs, gin fizzes, rum punch, followed by King Cake.

Whoever gets the baby in the King Cake has to buy the next King Cake, even if it's next year. This is a must.

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Mardi Gras is not Mardi Gras without King Cake. And, if you make your own, please be sure to insert the little plastic baby, because a King Cake is not a King Cake without the baby.

Bread Pudding and Bananas Foster have their place, but not on Mardi Gras.

I have done several New Orleans dinners for large groups, and I have been very pleased with the make-ahead-ability of corn and crab bisque, shrimp creole, and bourbon bread pudding. Not coincidentally, this is a classic menu at the New Orleans School of Cooking. But, you would have to replace the bread pudding with king cake, of course.

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This is one of the best cookbooks out there, IMHO, for when you get the urge to make any day a Fat Tuesday.
Not to diss Paul Prudhomme, but for cooking Louisiana style, I highly recommend Marcelle Bienvenu and John Folse.

These are the go-to cookbook writers for people who live in Louisiana.

John Folse also has a radio show. and a website with recipes.

Prudhomme's recipes are bold and big on flavor, full of fat, and time-consuming, so I guess if you're looking for show-stoppers to impress your guests, go to him.

But if you're looking for recipes you can make every day, where the taste of the ingredients are not overwhelmed by spice, go to Bienvenu and Folse.

Folse's Smoked Duck, Oyster and Andouille Gumbo:

PREP TIME: 2 1/2 Hours

SERVES: 6

COMMENT:

During the Christmas season in Cajun Country, a hot bowl of gumbo awaits visitors at every home on Christmas Eve. The tradition of serving Louisiana's premier soup as the entree after midnight Mass dates back more than 200 years.

INGREDIENTS:

* 2 Long Island ducks, smoked and cut into serving pieces

* 1 pint oysters

* 1 pound sliced andouille

* 1 cup vegetable oil

* 1 1/4 cups flour

* 2 cups chopped onions

* 2 cups chopped celery

* 1 cup chopped bell pepper

* 1/4 cup diced garlic

* 1 pint oyster liquor

* 3 quarts chicken stock

* 2 cups sliced green onions

* 1 cup chopped parsley

* salt to taste

* cracked pepper to taste

* Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce to taste

METHOD:

In a two gallon stock pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add flour and using a wire whisk, stir constantly until roux is golden brown. Do not scorch. Should black specks appear, discard and begin again. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté three to five minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add duck and andouille, blending into vegetable mixture. Add chicken stock and oyster liquor, one ladle at a time. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook approximately two hours. When duck is tender, add oysters and cook an additional ten minutes. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt, pepper and Louisiana Gold. Serve over steamed white rice.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

PREP TIME: 1 Hour

SERVES: 12

INGREDIENTS:

* 2 pounds 35 count shrimp, peeled and deveined

* 1 cup vegetable oil

* 1-1/2 cups flour

* 4 cups sliced okra

* 2 cups chopped onions

* 1 cup chopped celery

* 1 cup chopped bell pepper

* 1/4 cup diced garlic

* 3 quarts shellfish stock

* 2 cups chopped green onions

* 1/2 cup diced parsley

* salt and cayenne pepper to taste

METHOD:

I must note at this time that in many cases the okra used in gumbo is first chopped and sautéed in oil until all of the stringy texture is removed and the vegetable is light brown. However, it is perfectly acceptable to add the uncooked okra into this dish. In a two gallon stock pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add flour and using a wire whisk, stir constantly until golden brown roux is achieved. Do not allow roux to scorch. Should black specks appear, discard and begin again. When golden brown, reduce heat to simmer and sauté okra approximately fifteen minutes. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté approximately three to five minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add shellfish stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until all is incorporated. Return to medium high heat, bring to a low boil and allow to simmer thirty minutes. Add shrimp, green onions and parsley and season to taste using salt and pepper. Allow to cook an additional five minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

http://www.jfolse.com/fr_soups.htm

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The French celebrated Mardi Gras long before their colonists did, so why not make crepes?

If you're really going to feed a crowd, you can prepare them in advance and freeze them. I'm sure others here are more aware of additional international traditions than I am.

One thing though: while it is a riotous, gluttonous party, it's also supposed to mark the beginning of Lent and a time without meat. Does anyone know if "Fat Tuesday" meant it was the last day for carnivores to chow down on things like fatty pork?

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One thing though: while it is a riotous, gluttonous party, it's also supposed to mark the beginning of Lent and a time without meat. Does anyone know if "Fat Tuesday" meant it was the last day for carnivores to chow down on things like fatty pork?
It's the last day to eat any meat but seafood before Lent.

But as for pork, traditionally you did not see much fresh pork, you saw sausages and ham and pickled pork, basically preserved pork. Probably because it's so hot? I'm not saying "no pork", but it's just a different way of looking at things.

Similarly with beef. South Louisiana didn't have much in the way of beef cattle, due to diseases that flourished in swampy areas, but they did have milk cows, which were tough, so beef in South Louisiana was usually cooked in a pot with liquid. The saute process was used for tender veal.

Of course things have changed, but people tend to go back to their roots for holidays.

Sort of like eating turkey for Thanksgiving and hot dogs for 4th of July, as we were discussing last night at the book club meeting.

For a crowd for Mardi Gras, I would probably make a big pot of red beans and rice with andouille sausage and ham hocks because no more andouille or ham hocks for seven weeks.

But that's just the way it's done in Louisiana.

As you say, Mardi Gras (Carnivale, actually -- farewell to meat) is an old celebration, celebrated all over the world, so you can do it anyway that pleases you.

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As you say, Mardi Gras (Carnivale, actually -- farewell to meat) is an old celebration, celebrated all over the world, so you can do it anyway that pleases you.
I usually make a Pasta Di Carnivale, from Mimmetta Lomonte's Classic Sicilian Cooking, at this time of year. It's a baked rigatoni with a long simmered pork tomato sauce, crushed almonds, cinnamon, black pepper, and Pecorino.
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I usually make a Pasta Di Carnivale, from Mimmetta Lomonte's Classic Sicilian Cooking, at this time of year. It's a baked rigatoni with a long simmered pork tomato sauce, crushed almonds, cinnamon, black pepper, and Pecorino.
Interesting. I wonder what they do in Brazil?
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thanks, everyone, for all the great ideas-now, since my house seems to be falling apart around me (I think I have malevolent poltergeists), I'm backing off the idea of a party. However, I do plan on making a Kingcake (or 2) & sharing them...(& having a quiet meal of red beans & rice at home).

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