Posts Tagged ‘Fat Tuesday’

It’s Fat Tuesday! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

I lived in Mobile, Alabama back in the late 80’s, and if you asked the locals, they’d quickly tell you that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, not New Orleans.

Joe Caine paraded through the streets of Mobile dressed in a native American costume in 1868, and is credited for our current way of observing the Mardi Gras celebration. Of course, it’s hard not to think of New Orleans when you hear the phrase “Mardi Gras,” and I spent many a weekend on the streets and bars of the crescent city back in the day.

It was then that I fell in love with Cajun food, and needed to learn how to cook it myself. I bought cookbooks by two of the greats: Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme. I learned about layers of seasoning, and often I’d use those ideas in my own dishes.

When I moved to Rhode Island in 1990, I had yearly Mardi Gras parties at my house, and I cooked massive batches of these Cajun chicken breasts, using a spice mix I learned from my cooking experiments. They’re so good, my daughter asks for them all the time.

Double-dipping in the seasoned flour is a messy step, but it makes them extra crunchy and flavorful.

fullsizerender-8

 

1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup flour to keep it gluten-free)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon gumbo file (file powder), optional
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts
4 eggs
oil for frying (I like using avocado oil and some pork fat for flavor)

 

Cut the chicken breasts into manageable pieces. If they’re thick, slice them horizontally to make two thinner breasts. A thick piece of chicken won’t cook all the way through.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion, garlic, basil, white pepper, cayenne, black pepper, thyme and gumbo file in a bowl. Mix well.

I like to separate the 4 eggs, placing 2 eggs in 2 separate bowls. This keeps the first bowl “clean” and not gummed up with flour. You’ll see what I mean once you start, because it’s a bit messy. So, crack 2 eggs in the first bowl and the other 2 eggs in the second bowl. Scramble them up and put the bowls on either side of the seasoned flour bowl.

Pre-heat a pan of oil to 350 degrees.

Dip the chicken in the first egg bowl and then the seasoned flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken in the second egg bowl, making sure the flour is covered by egg. Then dip the chicken back into the flour for a second coat. Carefully place the chicken in the pan. Fry the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

If you need to feed a crowd, just double or triple the recipe. I used to make a 10x batch for my Mardi Gras parties!

 

 

Fat Tuesday is February 28!

Back in the late 80’s, I worked at a radio station in Mobile, Alabama. My New York buddies thought I was crazy to move to the South, but that’s where the job was. When they realized that I was only a 2-hour ride from New Orleans, I wasn’t so crazy after all! I spent every possible weekend there: the food, the music, the people…

When I moved to Rhode Island in 1990, I really missed all the fun of the Big Easy. So I decided to have a Mardi Gras party every year. I’d invite 80+ people, and I spent the week before the party cooking all the dishes myself. (Not bad for a single guy!) I made all the classics: red beans and rice, crawfish etouffe, gumbo, and jambalaya.

I still can’t imagine a Fat Tuesday without it.

 

image

Seasoning mix:
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
I find it easier to measure and chop all the ingredients before I start cooking.

I find it easier to measure and chop all the ingredients before I start cooking.

 

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions, in all
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery, in all
1 1/2 cups good quality chopped ham
1 1/2 cups chopped andouille sausage (I use local chourico from Fall River, Massachusetts)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
3/4 cup tomato sauce made from pureed whole tomatoes
2 cups uncooked rice (I like Texmati brown basmati rice)
3 cups chicken stock
1 lb. peeled and de-veined wild-caught American shrimp

 

image

Over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add 3/4 cup of the onions and 3/4 cup of the celery. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the seasoning mix, then the chopped ham and the chourico, and then the cayenne pepper sauce. Cook until the onions are a dark brown, about 20 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the remaining 3/4 cup of the onions and celery. Cook about 5 minutes.

Open a can (28 oz.) of tomatoes and puree in a food processor to make sauce. Add 3/4 cup of this and cook for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice, mixing well. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer covered over very low heat until the rice is tender but firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, toss in the shrimp, stir, then put the cover back on and cook for 5 minutes more.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to get wild-caught American shrimp at a local seafood store or supermarket. But for me, buying tiger shrimp or other Asian products is not an option. Once I learned about how they are farmed with chemical pellets–even pig feces–and using slave labor to do it, I decided I’d never eat those shrimp again! Now I get my wild-caught Louisiana shrimp from a company I’ve bought all my Cajun ingredients from for over 2 decades: http://www.cajungrocer.com. Not only will you find shrimp there, you’ll find many other Cajun classics: King cakes, Turduckens, andouille and alligator sausage, even live crawfish. And the price of their shrimp, even with shipping, is the same as the Asian shrimp you buy in the store. Make some room in your freezer, order large to save, and stock up on the real deal!

 

Fat Tuesday is February 28!

I lived in Mobile, Alabama back in the late 80’s, and if you asked the locals, they’d quickly tell you that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, not New Orleans.

Joe Caine paraded through the streets of Mobile dressed in a native American costume in 1868, and is credited for our current way of observing the Mardi Gras celebration. Of course, it’s hard not to think of New Orleans when you hear the phrase “Mardi Gras,” and I spent many a weekend on the streets and bars of the crescent city back in the day.

It was then that I fell in love with Cajun food, and needed to learn how to cook it myself. I bought cookbooks by two of the greats: Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme. I learned about layers of seasoning, and often I’d use those ideas in my own dishes.

When I moved to Rhode Island in 1990, I had yearly Mardi Gras parties at my house, and I cooked massive batches of these Cajun chicken breasts, using a spice mix I learned from my cooking experiments. They’re so good, my daughter asks for them all the time.

Double-dipping in the seasoned flour is a messy step, but it makes them extra crunchy and flavorful.

fullsizerender-8

 

1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup flour to keep it gluten-free)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon gumbo file (file powder), optional
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts
4 eggs
oil for frying (I like using avocado oil and some pork fat for flavor)

 

Cut the chicken breasts into manageable pieces. If they’re thick, slice them horizontally to make two thinner breasts. A thick piece of chicken won’t cook all the way through.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion, garlic, basil, white pepper, cayenne, black pepper, thyme and gumbo file in a bowl. Mix well.

I like to separate the 4 eggs, placing 2 eggs in 2 separate bowls. This keeps the first bowl “clean” and not gummed up with flour. You’ll see what I mean once you start, because it’s a bit messy. So, crack 2 eggs in the first bowl and the other 2 eggs in the second bowl. Scramble them up and put the bowls on either side of the seasoned flour bowl.

Pre-heat a pan of oil to 350 degrees.

Dip the chicken in the first egg bowl and then the seasoned flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken in the second egg bowl, making sure the flour is covered by egg. Then dip the chicken back into the flour for a second coat. Carefully place the chicken in the pan. Fry the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

If you need to feed a crowd, just double or triple the recipe. I used to make a 10x batch for my Mardi Gras parties!

 

 

I learned most of my Cajun dishes from the cookbooks of one of the masters: chef Paul Prudhomme. Sometimes, I’d use some of his great seasoning ideas in my own dishes. This was one of them. I would cook huge batches of these chicken breasts for my Mardi Gras parties and there would never be any leftovers! Don’t wait for Fat Tuesday to come around again to make these yourself.

Double-dipping in the seasoning mix is a messy step, but it makes them extra crunchy and flavorful.

Single-dipped breasts are at the top. The extra crunchy double-dipped are at the bottom.

Single-dipped breasts are at the top. The extra crunchy double-dipped are at the bottom.

 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon gumbo file (file powder), optional
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts
3 eggs
oil for frying (I like using avocado oil and some pork fat for flavor)

 

Cut the chicken breasts into manageable pieces. If they’re thick, slice them horizontally to make two thinner breasts. A thick piece of chicken won’t cook all the way through.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion, garlic, basil, white pepper, cayenne, black pepper, thyme and gumbo file in a bowl. Mix well.

In another bowl, crack and scramble the eggs.

Single dip: Dip the chicken in the egg and then the flour mixture. Shake off an excess and place in a pan with oil that has been heated to 350 degrees on a thermometer.  Fry until it’s cooked all the way through. Drain on paper towels.

Double-dip: Dip the chicken pieces in the egg, then the seasoning mix, then the egg, then back in the seasoning mix and place directly in a pan with oil heated to 350 degrees on a thermometer. Fry the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

If you need to feed a crowd, just double or triple the recipe. I used to make a 10x batch for my Mardi Gras parties!

This recipe is gluten-free if you substitute GF flour for the all-purpose flour.

 

I learned most of my Cajun dishes from the cookbooks of one of the masters: chef Paul Prudhomme. Sometimes, I’d use some of his great seasoning ideas in my own dishes. This was one of them. I would cook huge batches of these chicken breasts for my Mardi Gras parties and there would never be any leftovers! Don’t wait for Fat Tuesday to come around again to make these yourself.

Double-dipping in the seasoning mix is a messy step, but it makes them extra crunchy and flavorful.

Single-dipped breasts are at the top. The extra crunchy double-dipped are at the bottom.

Single-dipped breasts are at the top. The extra crunchy double-dipped are at the bottom.

 

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon gumbo file (file powder), optional

 

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts

3 eggs

oil for frying (I like using avocado oil and some pork fat for flavor)

 

Cut the chicken breasts into manageable pieces. If they’re thick, slice them horizontally to make two thinner breasts. A thick piece of chicken won’t cook all the way through.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion, garlic, basil, white pepper, cayenne, black pepper, thyme and gumbo file in a bowl. Mix well.

In another bowl, crack and scramble the eggs.

Single dip: Dip the chicken in the egg and then the flour mixture. Shake off an excess and place in a pan with oil that has been heated to 350 degrees on a thermometer.  Fry until it’s cooked all the way through. Drain on paper towels.

Double-dip: Dip the chicken pieces in the egg, then the seasoning mix, then the egg, then back in the seasoning mix and place directly in a pan with oil heated to 350 degrees on a thermometer. Fry the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

If you need to feed a crowd, just double or triple the recipe. I used to make a 10x batch for my Mardi Gras parties!

This recipe is gluten-free if you substitute GF flour for the all-purpose flour.

 

Back in the 80’s, I worked at a radio station in Mobile, Alabama. My New York buddies thought I was crazy to move to the South, but that’s where the job was. When they realized that I was only a 2-hour ride from New Orleans, I wasn’t so crazy after all! What a great town. I spent every possible weekend there: the food, the music, the people…

When I moved to Rhode Island, I really missed all the fun of the Big Easy. So I decided to have a Mardi Gras party every year. I’d invite 80+ people, and I cooked all of the dishes myself. (Not bad for a single guy!) I made all the classics: red beans and rice, crawfish etouffe, gumbo, and jambalaya.

I still can’t imagine a Fat Tuesday without it.

 

image

For the seasoning mix:

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

I find it easier to measure and chop all the ingredients before I start cooking.

I find it easier to measure and chop all the ingredients before I start cooking.

 

 

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions, in all

1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery, in all

1 1/2 cups good quality chopped ham

1 1/2 cups chopped andouille sausage (Here in RI, I use local Portuguese chourico from Mello’s in Fall River, MA)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)

3/4 cup tomato sauce made from pureed whole tomatoes

2 cups uncooked rice (I like Texmati brown basmati rice)

3 cups chicken stock

1 lb. peeled and de-veined wild-caught American shrimp

 

image

Over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add 3/4 cup of the onions and 3/4 cup of the celery. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the seasoning mix, then the chopped ham and the chourico, and then the cayenne pepper sauce. Cook until the onions are a dark brown, about 20 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the remaining 3/4 cup of the onions and celery. Cook about 5 minutes.

Open a can (28 oz.) of tomatoes and puree in a food processor to make sauce. Add 3/4 cup of this and cook for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice, mixing well. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer covered over very low heat until the rice is tender but firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, toss in the shrimp, stir, then put the cover back on and cook for 5 minutes more.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to get wild-caught American shrimp at my local seafood store or supermarket. But for me, buying tiger shrimp or other Asian products is not an option. Once I learned about how they are farmed, I decided I’d never eat those shrimp again! Now I get my wild-caught Louisiana shrimp from a company I’ve been buying all my Cajun foods from for over 2 decades: http://www.cajungrocer.com. Not only will you find shrimp there, you’ll find many other Cajun classics: King cakes, Turduckens, andouille and alligator sausage, even live crawfish. And the price of their shrimp, even with shipping, is the same as the Asian shrimp you buy in the store. Make some room in your freezer, order large to save, and stock up on the real deal!