Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, February 25th this year.  Traditionally, the days leading up to Lent, people would binge on rich/fatty foods in anticipation of fasting or limiting intake of certain foods.  Mardi Gras translates to Fat Tuesday and is celebrate the day before Ash Wednesday, making it quite the celebration!

New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras parties.  I’ve been to New Orleans and enjoyed some awesome food but have never participated in the Mardi Gras festivities…maybe someday I’ll get back!  I want to celebrate Mardi Gras this year with a delicious feast.  I’m thinking traditional New Orleans foods with a little twist!  I’ll be making Muffuletta Dip and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

I got my inspiration for Muffuletta Dip from a traditional, and signature, New Orleans sandwich that features olive salad, salami, and cheese.  This is essentially a Muffuletta sandwich in dip form.  It’s bold, tangy, and has incredible flavor.

The recipe can be found here.

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees and spraying a small baking dish with cooking spray.  You need a baking dish that is roughly 8×8 in size.  If you are doubling the recipe you can use a 9×13 pan.

Drain the olives, roasted red pepper, and giardiniera.  Measure out the quantities and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.

Chop the salami and provolone cheese.  I don’t like to buy pre-sliced meat or cheese so I can determine the size of the cubes when cutting myself but if you want to use pre-sliced, that’s ok!

Add the mixture from the food processor, along with the salami, provolone, cream cheese, and garlic powder to a bowl.  Mix until fully incorporated.

 

You want the cream cheese to be softened to room temperature so it’s easy to mix.  If the cream cheese isn’t quite softened, you can cut it into cubes to make it easier to mix.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Add 1-2 cups of cheese, depending on how cheesy you want the dip.  I love when you dip a cracker and the cheese is super stringy as you remove the first scoop 🙂

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starts to turn golden brown.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve warm with crackers or sliced baguette.

You can make this day 1-2 days ahead of time.  Follow all steps except do not bake.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the fridge.  When ready to bake, preheat the oven, remove the foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

The recipe can be found here.

Gumbo is a stew and is a popular dish in Louisiana.  It’s a melting-pot style of cooking because you throw meat and veggies in a pot with a roux and stock, and let it cook until ready.  My version of Gumbo is Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

You could use shellfish or other kinds of meat, but I love the combination of boneless chicken with chicken sausage.  This Gumbo has a bit of a bite because it’s slightly spicy!  Each spoonful is filled with tender chicken, juicy sausage, and plenty of veggies.

The recipe can be found here.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook through.  Remove from the pot and set aside.

I like to use fully cooked chicken sausage in this recipe so all I have to do is slice the sausage and set aside to heat later.  If you do not use fully cooked sausage, you will also want to cook the sausage through at this time.  Remove from the pot and set aside.

Reduce the heat to low.  Add the butter and melt completely.  Then sprinkle in the flour and whisk until fully incorporated.  Continue to cook and brown the roux over low heat until it reaches a light brown / caramel brown color.  Whisk every so often as the roux browns.  This will take about 15-20 minutes so be patient!

Add the onion, bell peppers, and celery.  Stir to coat with the roux and sauté until tender.  This will take about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, file powder, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir to combine.

Add the chicken and chicken sausage to the pot and stir to combine.  The chicken will continue to cook and warm at this point.

Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer for 45-60 minutes.  You want the liquid to thicken.

Serve warm over rice.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

The recipe can be found here.

Enjoy your Mardi Gras celebration!  Happy Cooking!

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