It's not too soon to start planning your Mardi Gras party. From king cake to classic gumbo, freshly fried beignets and warm bread pudding, shrimp and grits or hearty muffulettas, we've got all the dishes you need to let the good times roll. These New Orleans-inspired recipes are sure to please any fan of Fat Tuesday.
Chicken and andouille smoked sausage gumbo
A good stew doesn't get any better than the chicken and andouille smoked sausage gumbo from chef Paul Prudhomme, the man who popularized Cajun and Creole cooking in the United States. Tender chicken is stewed with chopped andouille sausage, garlic and the "trinity" — onion, celery and bell pepper — in a rich, roux-based sauce for a dish that only gets better over time.
Sweet potato pie with pecan streusel
For dessert, this Southern classic is kicked up a notch with a crumbly pecan streusel topping.
Louisiana barbecue shrimp
Not your typical Southern California barbecue, shrimp are sauteed in a skillet with lots of butter, garlic and spices. Have plenty of bread on hand to sop up all the flavorful juices.
New Orleans-style beignets
Start your day off right with this New Orleans staple. The beignets are best served warm with a cup of café au lait.
Warm chocolate bread pudding
This bread pudding is rich with thick, almost pudding-like custard and deep chocolate flavor. Served warm, it's pure comfort on a plate.
Creole file gumbo
At Barichere's New Orleans Grille, gumbo is made with browned chicken thighs and smoked turkey sausage. Shrimp and lump crab meat are added at the very end.
Crawfish spinach pie
Crawfish is the key component of this classic Cajun dish.
Layer cured meats, provolone and an olive-vegetable relish on a large, round loaf to make a substantial and satisfying muffuletta.
Duck and okra gumbo
Chef Terry Fortia, a Creole transplant to Los Angeles, took the basics he learned from watching his mother cook gumbo at home and added what he learned working for other chefs to come up with this duck and okra gumbo.
Jack Fry's shrimp and grits
Chef Shawn Ward's recipe for shrimp and grits calls for cooking the shrimp in red-eye gravy made with Madeira, shiitake mushrooms and fresh thyme, and serving them on creamy grits enriched with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
George Washington Carver's sliced sweet potato pie
Sweet potato pie fans will love this sliced sweet potato pie, from a recipe developed by George Washington Carver. The sweet potatoes are sliced and layered, rather than mashed.
Turkey gumbo with artichokes and andouille
This gumbo uses leftover holiday turkey, but it could easily be made using leftover chicken.
White-chocolate bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce
It doesn't get much easier than this warm, rich bread pudding finished off with a drizzle of whiskey caramel sauce.
Barbecue-braised duck legs with garlic grits
If you're looking for a comforting meal, the rich flavor of the duck legs in this recipe perfectly complements creamy garlic grits.
Caramel banana bread pudding
This bread pudding calls for croissants, which lend a soft, buttery texture to this classic comfort food. Rich caramel and crushed bananas are folded in before the pudding hits the oven. The resulting dish is a wonderfully rich play on flavors. It may look like a classic bread pudding, but tastes like bananas Foster.
Mardi Gras king cake with cream cheese and apple fillings
It isn't Mardi Gras without king cake. This version contains more than the plastic baby as a surprise; the cake is also stuffed with rich apple and cream cheese fillings.
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