If you didn’t already know, Mardi Gras is the last binge fest before Lent, when fasting occurs. So it’s no surprise that food is one of the central themes surrounding the festival. Today (February 21st) is Fat Tuesday, the height of Mardi Gras season. And although you may not be in New Orleans for the festivities, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat like you’re there. Here are some tips about cooking Cajun style that you need to know before cooking.
Typically, Cajun is the most commonly associated cuisine with Mardi Gras and one pot meals like gumbo and jambalaya are staples of this season, which include fresh seafood, lots of butter, white wine, rice, and smoked meats and sausages.
When cooking Cajun style, the trick is to have three key ingredients, as most dishes wouldn’t be caught dead without these; onions, bell peppers, and celery are a must have. To bring out the most flavor in your gumbo, or any other dish using meats, brown ham and sausage before adding it to the pot, as this brings out the flavor and tenderizes the meat. Also, rushing won’t help anything. When making dishes like gumbo or jambalaya, it’s best to let these slow simmer. The longer the better, as the juices will be more distinct.
Another staple ingredient in Cajun cooking is a fat and flour mixture called roux. This is typically made by browning fat and whisking in flour. It needs to cook for about an hour, until its about the color of coffee. Adding this concoction, along with the three holy ingredients, celery, onion, and bell peppers will be the highlight of any dish. Try it with your next pot of gumbo.
Happy Mardi Gras!