With Mardi Gras festivities beginning Tuesday, here’s two recipes with thoughts of the Carnival celebrations. While the Gumbo is a little more complex than the Jambalaya as it entails making a roux, both are delightfully delicious and are sure to liven up your taste buds!

Quick 2014 Mardi Gras Jambalaya

Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
Hot peppers: jalapeno, poblano or habanero (taste a little from the tip)
Green, Yellow or Red Bell Peppers, sliced
Pinch of Saffron (optional)
Canned stewed tomatoes, (about 32 oz.)
Cooked Chicken, large dice, (thighs or breast work well)
Parsley, chopped
1 pound Andouille (purist) or chorizo — any spicy — sausage, sliced
Hot sauce
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked long- (or short) grain rice
1 quart chicken broth (approx.)
1 pound shrimp, cleaned (optional), tail left on
2 lobster tails (optional)
Calamari, cut in rings or small pieces if tentacles (optional)
Mussels, cleaned (optional)

  • Heat oil in hot skillet. Cook onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add sweet peppers and slivered hot pepper to taste. Add saffron to oil. Stir in tomatoes and sausage. Season with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Stir in rice, pour in broth. Cover and steam until rice starts to get tender.
  • [optional] Transfer to low oven, 300˚ for about 15 minutes, or until rice starts to get tender
  • Add desired seafood and stir into rice, except lobster tail, if using. Finish steaming or return to oven for about 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Mussels should all open. Add cooked chicken. Before presentation, place lobster pieces on top; sprinkle chopped parsley.

Shrimp And Chicken Gumbo
(About 20 servings)

The base and gumbo through the okra step can be made ahead. Shrimp should be added at the last minute. Like a lot of the best food, gumbo tastes better the next day. This recipe can be halved or doubled. This is great football watching food, but it can just as festively occupy the center of a Mardi Gras celebration. The secret is the dark roux, brown, but not black. If the roux goes too far and blackens, discard it and start again. Really, don’t try to save it. Toss and start over. This is painful, but sometimes perfection is. You will be happier. And, who doesn’t want something that assures happiness in the face of disaster? Have fun with this; make it your own.

½ c vegetable oil
4 oz. unsalted butter
1 cup flour
4 garlic cloves, chopped/smashed

4 oz. Butter
6 large onions, chopped
6 red, yellow and green bell peppers, seeded, chopped (any combo)
1 head celery, peeled and sliced

2 quarts+ chicken broth or stock
2 28-ounce cans+ tomatoes with juice
(Clam Juice for part of chix stock, optional)

2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (+ to taste)
1 bottle Tabasco sauce
1 T Red Pepper Flakes (+ to taste)
¼ c dry or ½ c chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1T Black Pepper/Salt
2 teaspoon Cumin
2 pounds Andouille sausage, cut into slices
3 pounds cubed boneless chicken thighs
3 pounds cubed boneless chicken breast
2 pounds frozen okra
3 pounds peeled deveined shrimp
Garnish and Serving
Minced fresh Italian parsley
Steamed rice with Red Beans

  • Make Dark Brown Roux: Heat butter and oil in heavy 13-quart pot over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark reddish brown, about 5 minutes. Add smashed garlic. (Can be made ahead and cooled)
  • In separate pan, sauté chopped onions, peppers, and celery and cook until onions are soft and brown, about 15 minutes.
  • Add vegetables, cayenne, Tabasco, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, cumin, bay leaves and thyme to roux and stir 2 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes with juice, chicken stock, clam juice if using, sausage, and chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Add okra and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. (All can be made ahead and cooled)
  • Before serving, or after re-heating, if made and cooled, add shrimp to pot and stir in shrimp until just opaque in center, about 2 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
  • Separately cook each: red beans and steamed rice. Mound combination beans and rice in center of warmed soup or pasta bowl. Garnish with minced parsley.
  • Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.


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