Mardi Gras Recipes

Spice up your Mardi Gras celebration with these food and drink recipes.

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Crawfish Etouffe Rice Balls

Rice balls are a trendy menu item in contemporary restaurants, but here in the South, calas, or fried rice balls, have been eaten for centuries. The word calas means fried rice cake or fritter. It comes from the African word for rice. Rice balls were sold on the street corners in New Orleans as early as the 1800s. This recipe is my version of a spicy “rice ball.”



1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
6 ounces peeled crawfish tails or shrimp, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
3 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
10 cubes (1/2 inch) mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons rice flour
1 tablespoon sliced scallions (optional)

1. Melt the butter in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

2. Stir in 1 cup of the broth and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the crawfish (or shrimp) and cook until just opaque, 1 to 2 minutes.


3. Drain the mixture in a sieve set over a medium bowl. Return the liquid to the skillet and scoop the crawfish mixture (in the sieve) into the medium bowl. Season the crawfish mixture with the salt, 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper, and the cayenne. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

4. Beat together the whole egg and egg whites. When the crawfish mixture is cooled, stir in the beaten eggs, rice, and flour.

5. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Measure out 1/4 cup of the rice mixture and put it in the palm of your hand. Place a cheese cube in the center of the rice mixture. Gently form into a ball around the cheese. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat the process to make a total of 10 rice balls. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

7. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Spread the panko in a plate. Working with 1 rice ball at a time, pat the panko crumbs around the ball. Gently press the ball in your palms to keep a compact sphere shape. Carefully place 2 rice balls in the hot oil. Turn the balls with a fork, browning them all over. Repeat with the remaining balls.

8. When all rice balls have been browned, place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the rice balls to a paper towel–lined plate to cool slightly.

9. While the rice balls are baking, make the sauce. Whisk together the rice flour and remaining 3/4 cup broth in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep hot until ready to serve.


10. To serve, spoon a large spoonful of sauce on a small plate. Place a rice ball on the sauce. If desired, sprinkle scallions on top.


CREDIT: MasterChef Season 1 winner Whitney Miller and her cookbook MODERN HOSPITALITY (Rodale 2011). MasterChef will be returning for Season 3 this summer.

Photo Credit: Whitney Miller

Chocolate Bread Pudding



6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 cups half-and-half
¼ cup sugar


Soaking Liquid:
1 ½ cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
8 ½- inch thick slices of brioche or challah


1. Prepare the custard: In a stainless steel bowl or double boiler placed over simmering water, melt the two chocolates.


2. In large stainless steel bowl, beat the whole eggs and the egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the sugar and beat until fluffy.


3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring the half-and-half to a rolling boil. Slowly whisk into the egg mixture. Then, whisk in the melted chocolate. Chill over ice and refrigerate, covered, until needed. (This should be prepared the day before so that the custard will thicken.)


4. When ready to prepare the pudding, combine the soaking liquid ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the cocoa is completely dissolved. With a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut each slice of bread into two inch circles (16 circles). Arrange the circles of bread in 1 or 2 dishes large enough to hold the circles in one layer. Pour the soaking liquid over and soak well, turning so that the bread absorbs as much liquid as possible.


5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8 1-cup colds or custard cups.


6. Prepare the pudding: Spoon a layer of custard (about ¼ cup) into the bottom of each of the 8 cups. Using a slotted spoon remove a circle of bread and set in the custard. Spoon over a second layer of custard, a second circle of bread and top with a final layer of custard. Repeat this procedure, filling the remaining cups with custard and bread, and then arrange the cups in a large baking pan. Fill the pan with boiling water, halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until needed.

CREDIT: Wolfgang Puck of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Spago and CUT (Los Angeles)

Photo Credit: Wolfgang Puck

Mardi Gras Moon Pies



1 Moon pie (any flavor) dipped in Bisquick batter


1. Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown


2. Cut fried moon pie in half


3. Place scoop of ice cream on plate


4. Place the moon pie halves on both sides of the ice cream


5. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and Mardi Gras sprinkles


CREDIT: Michael C. Majure, Owner & Chef, Petit Bois Café via the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership

Photo Credit: Petit Bois Café

Boo’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo



2 cut up fryer chickens

1 lb. smoked or Andouille sausage (sliced bite size)
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
3 onions chopped
5 stalks celery chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
10 garlic toes chopped
2 quarts water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch Italian parsley chopped
1 bunch green onions chopped


1. Season chicken with salt and cayenne or a Creole seasoning. Brown chicken and sausage in oven, 425 degrees, 20 minutes.


2. While chicken is browning, make a roux using 3/4 cup vegetable oil to one cup all purpose flour. When roux is the color of the bayou after a heavy rain, add onions. Simmer for 10 minutes, add celery and peppers. Simmer another 15 minutes, then add garlic. Stir often.


3. Add about two quarts of water or chicken broth, bay leaves, and season to taste with salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. When liquid is hot, add chicken and continue to cook on high heat for 10 minutes. Lower heat, cook for 30 more minutes, add sausage. Continue to cook for at least an hour or when meat breaks away from the bone. Skim off excess grease.


4. Let stand to cool. De-boning is optional. When ready to serve, re-heat, add parsley and onion tops. Serve with rice.


5. In Louisiana, potato salad and hot French bread are common side dishes with a bowl of gumbo.


CREDIT: Janice Boo Macomber, author of Tastes, Tails, and Tales with the High Priestess of the Bayou

Photo Credit: Janice Boo Macomber

Shrimp Po Boy Sliders with Tasso Polenta Fries & Buttermilk Ranch Dressing


6 slider buns or small snowflake rolls
2 tablespoons melted butter
18 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper


Roasted Pepper Aioli

1 egg yolk
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons Dijon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 roasted red pepper (minced)
1 cup blended oil

1. Put the egg yolk, garlic, Dijon and lemon juice in a blender. On low speed slowly drizzle in the oil and roasted pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


2. Butter the slider buns and lightly toast in a warm oven or on a griddle pan.

For the shrimp:


1. Heat a heavy bottom 2 qt sauce pot with 2 cups of canola oil. Heat to 350 degrees.


2. Combine the salt, pepper, flour and cornmeal in a bowl. Toss the shrimp with the buttermilk and Tabasco. Then into the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.


To Assemble:

1. Spread the aioli on both sides of the toasted buns. Put three crispy shrimp between each bun and serve.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered cultured buttermilk blend
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together all of the ingredients above. Keep chilled until ready to use.

CREDIT: Chef Paul Turano of Tryst Restaurant in Arlington, MA

Photo Credit: Tryst Restaurant

Cinnamon and Sugar Beignets with Café au Lait Pot au Crème



1/2 cups lukewarm water

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon envelope active dry yeast
1 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon shortening
Nonstick spray
Oil, for deep-frying
1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.


2. In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.


3. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour. Add 1 cup of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

4. Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

5. Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

6. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.


7. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar and cinnamon. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.

Café au lait pot au crème

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup coffee beans, crushed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.


2. Heat the milk, cream, coffee beans, and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat until just boiling. Remove from heat and steep for five minutes. Strain liquid. Whisk the egg and yolks in a bowl with the sugar. Slowly add the hot milk mixture into the eggs. Add vanilla.


3. Pour into 4 (4-ounce) espresso cups and arrange on a baking dish. Fill the baking dish halfway with very hot water but not boiling, being careful not to splash water into the ramekins. Put in the oven and bake until the edges are set, but the center is still a little wobbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove immediately from the water bath to a baking dish filled with ice to chill quickly. Keep refrigerated until serving.

CREDIT: Chef Paul Turano of Tryst Restaurant located in Arlington, MA

Photo Credit: Tryst Restaurant

Blackened Shrimp Alfredo



8 oz. fettuccine (follow directions on package)
4 oz. shrimp
2 oz. butter
Pinch of garlic
Pinch of parsley
Blackening seasoning to taste
3 oz. cream
1 tablespoon parmesan
2 oz. butter

1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, combine items 2 - 5. Heat ingredients until shrimp are cooked through (firm to touch and white in color).


2. Add the remaining 4 ingredients; cook until hot and butter has melted. Add the pasta to the pan and blend together.

3. Garnish with sliced green and yellow bell peppers and purple onions. Serve immediately.


CREDIT: Michael C. Majure, Owner & Chef, Petit Bois Café via the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership


Photo Credit: Petit Bois Café

Soft "Sexy" Wisconsin Cheese Grits



2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade or prepared
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic, peeled and chopped
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Tabasco™ sauce to taste
1/2 cup grits (standard quick grits or stone ground*)
1 1/2 cups preferably Wisconsin Gouda Cheese, shredded


1. Bring the butter, broth, cream, garlic, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Add all the grits, whisking and stirring constantly. Simmer.

2. Continue cooking, stirring often with a wooden spoon as the mixture thickens, until the grits are soft and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.


3. Fold in Gouda cheese, reserving a little for garnish. Serve immediately.


Home Cook's Note: To turn this sumptuous recipe into an entrée, saute 1 pound medium peeled, deveined shrimp in butter with garlic. Top the grits with the shrimp.

*Fresh, stone-ground grits have the best flavor; the cooking time will be approximately twice as long. If you do use freshly ground grits, you will want to keep a little extra stock available. Because of the longer cooking time, evaporation occurs.


CREDIT: Chef Jan Birnbaum, Courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board


Photo Credit: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Spicy Salmon and Corn Cakes with Mango Tartar Sauce



Tartar Sauce

1 cup peeled, diced mango (1 large)
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
Pinch of salt

1. To make the tartar sauce, whisk together the mango, mayonnaise, capers, and salt in a medium bowl. Add pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salmon Cakes

One 14.75 ounce can boneless pink salmon, drained
1 cup panko, or dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cornmeal
Vegetable oil, for frying

1. To make the salmon cakes, put the salmon in a medium bowl and break it up with a fork. Add the panko, eggs, parsley, onion, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. Form the mixture into 12 cakes and coat them with the cornmeal.


2. Heat ¼ inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the cakes in the oil 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve immediately with the tartar sauce.



CREDIT: Recipe Courtesy of Deen Family Cookbook

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Deen Family Cookbook

Sweet Corn Fritter


220g of flour (all purpose)
Dash of salt & paprika powder
5g of sugar
2 whole eggs
½ cup of milk
200g of fresh corn boiled
80g of diced bell pepper
40g of chopped spring onion
20g of coriander fresh, chopped
10g of parsley fresh, chopped
23ml of vegetable oil
4 vine ripe tomatos
100g of washed arugula
4 slices of crispy bacon
4 poached eggs

For Roast Tomato:

1. Cut tomato into half. Heat up oven. Sprinkle tomato with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 40 minutes by 180ºC.



1. Sieve flour, paprika, salt and sugar in a bowl.


2. Combine egg and milk, slowly add egg milk mixture to the flour and mix nicely until you have a smooth lump free batter.


3. Then add corn, bell pepper, spring onion, coriander and parsley. Mix all well.


4. Heat up vegetable oil and pan sear corn fritter nicely until golden brown on both sides.


5. Assemble plate. Put 1 fritter on plate and cover with tomato, arugula and bacon. Cover the second fritter and topped with soft poached egg.


CREDIT: Fairmont Singapore

Photo Credit: Fairmont Singapore

Andouille Po' Boy


1/2 cup Creole or other stone-ground mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) preferably Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese, grated


2 tablespoon butter
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 fully cooked pork or chicken Andouille sausages
4 French rolls* or 4 baguette slices, cut to sausage length (about 5" long)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups preferably Wisconsin Provolone Cheese, shredded
Hot Louisiana-style pepper sauce, optional

1. Make sauce. Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.


For sandwiches:


1. Heat butter in heavy medium skillet. Add onions, tossing to coat with butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until onions are soft and caramelized. Salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

2. Brush griddle or heavy skillet with cooking spray or unflavored oil. Heat until almost smoking. Split sausages lengthwise and place cutside-down on griddle. Turn when browned, and brown skinned-side, cooking until heated through.


3. Split rolls or baguette slices lengthwise. Spread the cut sides (tops and bottoms) generously with prepared sauce. Spread about 1/4 cup of spinach leaves on each roll bottom. Top each with 1/4 of onions. Sprinkle Provolone shreds over, dividing equally over the 4 bottoms. Place sausage halves on top of cheese and place roll tops over. Serve hot pepper sauce on the side, if you desire.

*Choose a roll with a fairly soft crust, making the sandwich easier to eat and similar to New Orleans-style bread.


CREDIT: Courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Jazzed-Up Jambalaya


Though Jambalaya most often uses smoked sausage or ham, I use turkey smoked sausage or turkey kielbasa. If you’re not familiar with it, kielbasa is a Polish smoked sausage. In a dish like this, it tastes very similar to American smoked sausage. The varieties I use have only 3 grams of fat for 2 ounces and taste great (see page 17). You’d never guess they’re as light as they are. Always check labels; a few brands of turkey smoked sausage have much more fat.


It’s important to have all of your ingredients measured before you start cooking this recipe, or it won’t be quite as easy as it really is.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, visible fat removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic (about 4 medium cloves)
1 1/2 cups converted long-grain white rice, uncooked
3/4 pound extra-lean smoked turkey sausage or kielbasa (3 grams of fat or less per 2-ounce serving), sliced on a diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ancho chile pepper (see page 15)
Two 14.5-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 large dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste, if desired
One 14.5-ounce can fat-free or 98% fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (not low-sodium)
1 1/4 pounds large (21–25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined


1. Combine the chicken and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Mix until the chicken is evenly coated.


2. Place a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Put in 11/2 teaspoons of the olive oil and the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just tender but not browning, 10 to 13 minutes. Remove the veggies and set them aside. 


3. Turn the heat to medium-high. Put another 11/2 teaspoons of the olive oil and the rice in the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is just starting to brown lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a separate bowl from the veggies. Set aside.

4. Turn the heat to high. When the pan is hot, put in the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, about 2 minutes per side, until the outsides are browned in spots. Push the chicken to the outer edges and add the sausage. Cook the sausage, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

5. Turn the heat back down to medium and add the veggies back to the pan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning, the oregano, and the ancho chile pepper. Stir until well combined. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, including the juice, the bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Then add the chicken broth and turn the heat to high. When the liquid comes to a full boil, stir in the rice.

6. When it returns to a boil, turn the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer until the rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid, 35 to 45 minutes.


7. About 5 minutes before it’s cooked, stir in the shrimp and continue cooking, covered, for 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves. Season with cayenne to taste, if desired. Serve immediately.


CREDIT: Recipe taken from Devin Alexander's THE MOST DECADENT DIET EVER! Copyright © 2008 by Devin Alexander published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House Inc.


Photo Credit: Theresa Raffetto

Rotisserie Chicken with Cajun Creole Rub



1 3-1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken


Cajun Creole Rub:
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Wash the chicken and dry thoroughly, inside and out. Loosen the skin across the breast and then down around the leg and thigh using a chopstick or your fingers. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the rub. Work the rub under the skin and onto the meat of the breasts, legs and thighs and then all over the outside skin as well. Season the inside cavity with any remaining rub.


2. Using an elastic food tie, truss the chicken. Rotate the chicken on the spit rods for 55 to 60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.


Photo Credit: Ronco

A Bird in the Hand

1 oz. preferably PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1 oz. spiced rum
½ oz. triple sec
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
Dash simple syrup

1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker.


2. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Tiki Mug.


3. Fill with crushed ice, stir and top with more crushed ice.


CREDIT: Mixologist Eben Freeman of Altamarea Group

Photo Credit: PAMA

The Big Easy

2 oz preferably Tequila REVOLUCION 100° PROOF

1/2 oz green chartreuse
1/2 oz agave nectar
1 bar spoon of absinthe
1 oz pineapple juice
1/4 lime juice


1. Shake all ingredients and pour over ice in a pretty tumbler or old fashioned glass, garnish with an extra long grapefruit peel.


CREDIT: Tequila Revolucion Brand Ambassador Summer-Jane Bell

Photo Credit: Tequila Revolucion

Rebel with a Cause

2 oz preferably Denizen Rum
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
4 mint leaves

1. Add all ingredients into a shaker, shake well and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.


2. Garnish with a nice sprig of fresh mint. 


CREDIT: Mixologist Marshall Altier of JBird



Jennifer Jeanne Patterson is a freelance writer and author of 52 Fights. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three children. Find her blog at Unplanned Cooking.


Related: Best Chocolate Recipes Ever


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Photo Credit: Denizen Rum

First Published Thu, 2012-01-19 12:37

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