Mardi Gras party fun (and a recipe for Fatty-club Gumbo)

We had our annual Mardi Gras party last night. I say “annual” because we’ve had it three times now, which I guess makes it an event that is more than a one time deal. Basically, Annette and I throw two big parties a year: the “Indian food party” and the Mardi Gras party. The Indian food party tends to be smaller, a dozen people tops, and it usually features as a “guest of honor” a new hire in the English department. The Mardi Gras party is the bigger, more blow-out of the parties.

Here’s a set of Flickr picts.

Of course, one of the main attractions is food, mostly food that I make. This year’s menu was pretty typical: stuffed jalapenos, fancy cheeses, and veggies and fruits, but mostly New Orleans (esque) fair. Most of my recipes came from a site I like a great deal, The Gumbo Pages. This year’s recipes from that site included a vegetarian version of red beans (I grilled up some andouille sausage for a side with this, all of which immediately disappeared) and King Cake (which is actually an Emeril Lagasse recipe and, with its cream cheese filling, was excellent). I also made my version of a Lagasse shrimp cake recipe that is too complicated to recount here, and a gumbo that I make on a fairly regular basis that I will describe:

Krause’s Fatty Club Gumbo

This is my interpretation of a gumbo recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook we have. The original WW recipe features a fair amount of crab, which a) I’m not all that crazy about in a soup, and b) is kind of expensive. Gumbo purists will probably turn our their noses at this version since it does not involve a roux. But it is easy to make, it’s mostly healty, and it seemed to be a hit the other night.

Like all gumbos, this is one of those recipes where there is a lot of room for substitutions and modifications. But this is the basic version that has worked for us around here.

1 or so tablespoons of olive or veggie oil
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
6 or 8 green onions, sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 of a ring (I guess 1/2 a pound?) of low-fat turkey or pork kielbasa sausage,* cut into small pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 package (16 oz I guess?) of frozen and sliced okra, defrosted
1 can of diced tomatoes (15 oz)
1 quart of chicken stock
1/2 cup rice
1/2 pound to 1 pound of frozen raw shrimp with the tails on, defrosted and cleaned to your preferences**

  • Heat oil on medium-high heat in a large pot (I like to use a dutch oven for this), and sweat green peppers through sausage. The idea here is to “cook” all of this stuff without browning it too much.
  • *I generally like to use turkey sausage for this, but when I made this for the party recently, I used a low-fat pork sausage that I liked a great deal. In any event, the choice of sausage here is up to you. If you use something like andouille or chorizo, your soup will be a lot more spicy and a lot less fatty-club friendly. But hey, that might be pretty good too.
  • Add cajun seasoning (I use Emeril’s– you know, BAM!– but there are many others on the market), thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and okra, and cook for a couple of minutes. Don’t skip the okra because it really is an excellent vegetable in this recipe and it thickens up the soup in a pleasant way without the roux.
  • Add the chicken stock and the canned tomatoes, bring up to a simmer (just barely a boil) for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the rice and keep simmering for about 8 or 10 minutes.
  • Add the shrimp and keep simmering for about 8 or 10 minutes.
  • **My preference for the shrimp is medium to large shrimp that are cleaned but with tails on, mainly because I like the little extra flavor the shrimp tails give the dish, but I am too lazy to clean fresh shrimp for this, and I frankly don’t think it’s worth it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t use previously cooked shrimp because I don’t think they taste as good in a dish like this. In any event, the choice is yours.
  • Serve with your favorite hot sauce and bread and whatever else you want.
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