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                                        Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulet!

Tuesday is Fat Tuesday and don't you wish you were in New Orleans? I know I do.

What's For Dinner is a community diary that posts every Saturday night at 4:30PST/7:30EST. We trade reciepes, talk about food and related topics. Leave politcs at the door, pour yourselves a drink and relax.

This recipe doesn't call for okra, but if you're into it, by all means, add it.


1 large chicken cut into 8 pieces
1 pound andouille sausage, cut on the bias into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 large onions, diced
1 large green bell pepper, medium dice
1 cup celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2½ quarts chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
3 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning blend (available in most supermarkets)
½ cup scallion, minced


Prepare the chicken by cutting it into pieces.

[Chef’s Note: We prefer relatively small pieces, so we cut breasts and thighs in half, leaving the skin on.]

Season lightly with salt, pepper and a little of the Creole seasoning. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When it shimmers, add the butter and then the chicken pieces, skin side down. Sauté the chicken in oil until browned on both sides, and the skin is nicely crisped. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the andouille sausage. Fry the andouille for 4-5 minutes and remove to the same bowl as the chicken.

Prepare the roux:
Make a brown roux by adding the flour to the remaining fat in the pan. Using a wire whisk, stir constantly, incorporating the flour and the fat until all lumps are gone and a smooth paste is achieved. Cook the roux for 15-20 minutes over medium heat until it’s nicely browned and nutty in aroma.

[Chef’s Note: If the roux is a little too dry, add a touch of oil until you are able to easily whisk the roux as it cooks. If it’s too runny, add a little flour at a time until the roux is thick but still fluid.]

Finish the gumbo:
Once the roux is dark, add the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and given off a little of their liquid. Add the chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, ground cloves, allspice, cayenne and the remaining Creole seasoning. Add the chicken pieces and andouille back into the pan along with any juices that have accumulated. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the gumbo for another 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through, the chicken is tender and the liquid has thickened. When the gumbo is finished, remove from the heat and add the sliced scallions. Serve while hot over white rice or red beans and rice.


Gumbos can, of course, come in many forms. A popular way to make gumbo is with seafood. Replace the chicken stock with seafood stock, and use shrimp (heads-on is most authentic to Louisiana cuisine), crab meat and even oysters. However, the seafood should be added at the end of the cooking time so they are not overcooked. If using crabmeat, steam the crabs and pick out the meat, adding it in at the end just until heated through.


  A traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras dessert, the king cake evolved from the “galette des rois” served in celebration of Twelfth Night (January 6), and according to legend, to honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany. King cake is a brioche-like dough baked into the shape of a ring, often filled with a cream cheese or nut paste filling, and baked with a “baby” or a coin inside. Tradition holds that the person who gets the piece with the baby gets to wear the crown, receives a year of good luck and must host the next king cake party.


For the dough:
2 envelopes active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
½ cup warm milk, about 110 F
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 cups all purpose flour, more or less as needed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon dried nutmeg
1 ceramic baby, dried bean or clean coin
1 teaspoon oil (for oiling the bowl)
2 tablespoons milk (to brush over the cake before baking)

For the bourbon pecan filling:
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans

For the icing:
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Purple, green and gold tinted sugar


Prepare the dough:
Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar into it, whisking to dissolve. Allow the mixture to rest in a warm place for ten minutes, or until the yeast bubbles up and almost doubles in size. Mix thoroughly.

Place the rest of the sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture and the melted butter. Beat at medium-low speed to combine. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest and beat until all are incorporated. Increase the speed to high and knead until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball and appears satiny and elastic. A little more flour may be necessary to achieve a smooth dough.

Coat the inside of a large bowl with the oil. Remove the dough from the bowl, form into a smooth ball and place in the bowl, turning to coat the entire surface in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Prepare the bourbon pecan filling:
Place the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla and cinnamon in the work bowl of a standing mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the pecans and mix on low speed until incorporated. Set aside until ready for use.

Finish the cake:
Once raised, lightly punch down the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 30”x10” rectangle. Spread the bourbon pecan filling evenly on top of the dough, leaving about a ½-inch border on each side. Place the baby or coin somewhere on top of the filling. Starting at the long side, roll the dough jellyroll fashion, shaping into a cylinder. Brush the final edge lightly with milk and press to seal the seam. Place the dough, seam side down, onto a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Shape into a ring and pinch the edges together to seal. Lightly oil the 4-inch ring mold and place in the center of the dough ring. Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap or a clean towel and place in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a pastry brush, brush the top and sides of the risen cake with milk. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating the pan mid-way through the baking time. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the icing:
Stir together the confectioner’s sugar, orange juice, bourbon and vanilla, blending well. Add milk to reach the desired consistency for drizzling. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and immediately sprinkle with the colored sugars, alternating in individual rows about 2 inches wide.


King cakes can come with a variety of fillings. Try almond paste or cream, fruit spreads or a buttery caramel for an alternate filling.

Well, I will be making pesto pasta tonight for dinner and saving my shrimp for Tuesday.
What's for dinner at your house tonight?


What are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras?

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