Fat Tuesday Feast


“You can live in any city in the America, but New Orleans is the only city that lives in you.”

There has never been a more true statement.

Last year, my husband and I were lucky enough to visit The Big Easy. We visited the week before Mardi Gras and from the minute we strolled into Pat O’s for hurricanes I was hooked.  There is something about New Orleans that is unlike any US city I have ever visited.  I felt like I was transported to another country. NOLA, I discovered has its own identity, its own unique culture. From the history, to the people, to the music and the food (OH THE FOOD!), it won my heart.

While we were there, Mardi Gras celebrations had begun. We got to see all of the beautiful buildings, decorated for the holiday, the parades had begun and music filled the streets. The excitement and festivities engulfed me and I have never been the same!

New Orleans, was also one of my favorite food cities, and I’ll be honest I have eaten around! From the oysters, to muffeletta,  jambalaya, to the shrimp and grits, everything we ate was truly to die for. And of course no trip to NOLA is complete without a stop a Cafe du Monde, for a beignet. When I die I hope I end up in beignet heaven.

Since our return from The Big Easy, we have incorporated many of the flavors we experienced into our everyday cooking. But for Fat Tuesday, I kicked it up a notch.  I love to surprise my husband with fun dinners, especially during the work week.  This time we could relive our fabulous trip to New Orleans, and celebrate Mardi Gras! I decorated our dining room with the masks and beads we brought home from our trip, and decided to give a try at a classic southern dish of Shrimp and Grits! I browsed a few recipes, and realized there are many variations of shrimp and grits to make, and instead created my own version with a little “NAWLINS” flare!

Ingredients

Shrimp

1. 1 pound of Shrimp, peeled and deveined

2. 1 pound of Andouille sausage, sliced in to bite size pieces

3. 1 small onion, chopped

4. 3 stalks of celery, chopped

5. 1 small red pepper, chopped

6. 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

7. Cajun seasoning

8. 1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce

9. 1/4 cup of chicken broth

Grits

1. 1/2 cup of quick cooking grits – to quote My Cousin Vinny “No self-respestin’ Southener uses instant grits!”

2. 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth (you can use water, but I think the broth gives it more flavor)

3.  1 tablespoon of butter

4. 1/3 of a cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Recipe

1. In a bowl, season shrimp with Cajun seasoning to desired spice level. Set aside.

2. Drizzle EVOO into a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the chopped onion, celery and pepper to the skillet.

*Just a fun fact for you- These three vegetables are known as the “Holy Trinity” in New Orleans, and are the base to almost every Cajun/Creole recipe!

4. As the “trinity” is cooking, add the garlic to the skillet and cook until all the vegetables are soft, and drizzle with the Worcester sauce.

5. At the same time, in a separate small pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil.

6. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling broth and reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Add in the butter and cheese to the grits, and let cook for 3-4 more minutes or until both have melted and combined with the grits. (Feel free to add as much cheese as you want. The cheesier the better!!)

8. Add the sausage to the skillet with the vegetables, to brown slightly. Once they have started to brown, push all of the contents of the skillet to the edges. This will create room for your shrimp to cook, while marrying all the flavors together.

6. Add your shrimp to the skillet and cook on both sides, about 2-3 minutes on both sides, or until slightly browned.

7. Stir all of the contented of the pan together, and hit the pan with the 1/4 cup of chicken stock, to de-glaze the pan and combine all the flavors.

8. Finish your shrimp with sliced scallions, for garnish.

9. Scoop your cheesy grits into a bowl, and top them with your shrimp and sausage.

I hope that you make this dish to get a taste of Mardi Gras, but even more I hope I have enticed you to visit New Orleans and try the amazing food for yourself. I promise it will not disappoint!

 While you are serving up your Cajun meal, check your local liquor store for Abita Beer, a New Orleans brew. It will pair perfectly with your Shrimp and Grits.

 And like they say in the Big Easy- “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

“Let the good times roll!”