It's quite appropriate that Top Chef filmed its finale in New Orleans, because we've got Mardi Gras on the brain (it's this Tuesday). So do many of you, it turns out. We've had a few requests for Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras menu ideas, including this one from Ashley:
With February being the month to celebrate Mardi Gras... any fabulous recipes for a Fat Tuesday party? We're hosting one on February 24th and would love some great cajun food ideas! Thanks so much, and laissez les bon temps roule!
Well, we have a few ideas. Of course, Mardi Gras is a big production down in Louisiana, so making classic New Orleans food is one way to go. But Fat Tuesday, called Shrove Tuesday in some parts of the UK, is also Pancake Day for many Christians. Traditionally, people would want to use up milk, eggs, and butter, ingredients that were not allowed during Lent.
Either way you go—last-ditch fest of gluttony or proper pancake eating—we actually love the idea of a Mardi Gras brunch. So many of the dishes below (not just pancakes) are great for breakfast. There are grits, beignets, and cocktails with egg whites. Even King Cake, the classic Mardi Gras dessert, is a lot like coffee cake or cinnamon rolls.
Mardi Gras day in New Orleans is very much a morning affair, too. The parades start early, and people get up and set out to friends' houses to begin a long day of drinking and eating, much of it bloody marys and brunch food.
Here are our recommendations...
For Pancake Day:
• Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes
• Sara Kate's Big Pancake
• Pancake Bars
For Mardi Gras brunch:
• How to Make a Beignet
• Pork Grillades and Grits, from New Orleans chef John Besh (via The New York Times)
• Shrimp and Grits Eggs Benedict, from Southern Living
• Raw Egg Whites in Cocktails and the Ramos Gin Fizz
• King Cake, from Southern Living (above)
For Mardi Gras dinner:
• John Besh's Louisiana Speckled Trout Amandine
• Chicken, Andouille, and Oyster Gumbo, from Epicurious (above)
• Shrimp Étouffée, from Emeril Lagasse (via Food Network)
• Blackeye Pea and Pork Gumbo, from chef Donald Link of Cochon restaurant in New Orleans
• Bananas Foster
Ok, we know we have some New Orleans-based readers out there. What are you making for Mardi Gras? Anyone else making something special?
Related: Sense of Place: The Food and Cuisine of Louisiana
(Images: Lara Ferroni for Epicurious; Southern Living)