So Yesterday was Fat Tuesday and no I am not french Cajun or from Louisiana, and yes 15 years ago I wouldn't have know the first thing about it... But in College I had a GREAT friend who was French Cajun and is from LA and she introduced this great day to me. Since then I have loved Mardi Gras and this year I Made a great Gumbo and King Cake dinner for our family. Here is the recipe for the Gumbo and some pictures to go with it.
This may be a simple gumbo, but its a hearty one and a classic combination. If you can't find andouille, use a local smoked sausage or kielbasa or whatever smoked sausage you like. This one's easy to knock off quickly for a great evening's meal.
• 1 cup oil
• 1 cup flour
• 2 large onions, chopped
• 2 bell peppers, chopped
• 4 ribs celery, chopped
• 4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 quarts chicken stock
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 3 large chicken breasts, cut into pieces
• 1 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
• 1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
• 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you're nervous about burning it.
Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.
Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.
Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes. Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. Accompany with a good beer and lots of hot, crispy French bread.
YIELD: About 12 entrée sized servings.
And then there is the King cake.... the story of the king cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th Century. These early Europeans celebrated the coming of the 3 wise men bearing gifts 12 days after Christmas calling it the feast of the Epiphany, twelfth night or Kings' Day.
the main part of the celebration was the baking of a King Cake to honor the 3 kings. the cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child and confuse King Herod, who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the baby Jesus. In these early King Cakes, a bean or pea or a coin was hidden inside the cake. The person who got the hidden item was said to be "king" for the day and was said to have good luck in the coming year.
I Louisiana, Twelfth Night also Signifies the beginning of the Carnival Season which ends on Mardi Gras Day. The beans, peas, and coins have been replaced by a small plastic baby to symbolize the baby Jesus. The person who get the baby is expected to carry on the Carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake Party.
I always make my king cake this way.
1 can of Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
Shape the Cinnamon rolls in a Circle on the baking sheet and bake as directed on the package. Take the icing and split it in Thirds. Color one with Green, One with Yello, and the other use Red and Blue to make Purple. Then Ice the cooked cake in 6 sections alternating colors. Tuck the baby in from the bottom DON'T COOK THE BABY IN THE CAKE!!!!!!
Then just sit back and enjoy watching people eat while they look for the baby... You can see who found it this year....