Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mardi Gras!

It's carnival season!

Mardi Gras is a wonderful way for a gathering of friends to celebrate!
I haven't been to New Orleans for quite some time, but I do enjoy holding my own personal Mardi Gras at home... this is really a great excuse to invite some cherished friends over for sharing of food, drink, & merriment. The welcoming of guests with decorative masks and colorful costumes adds to the excitement!  I like to always have some great New Orleans music playing in the background, and have included a great little sample that you may play as you peruse the recipe.  The magic of 'The Big Easy' awaits...

Olive oil
2 red or white onions, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped with seeds
3 tablespoon Creole Seasoning (or more)
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound andouille sausage cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
32 oz chicken stock
28 oz can plum tomatoes, diced, with liquid
3 cups long-grain rice
In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. 

Add two chopped red onions, four chopped green onions, one chopped bell pepper, four finely chopped garlic cloves, two bay leaves, one finely chopped jalapeño, one tbspn. (or more) Creole Seasoning, one-half tspn. cayenne pepper and one-half tspn. fresh chopped oregano. 

Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. 

Mix in two tbspns. tomato paste. Add broth.  Add sausage, ham, tomatoes and rice. Bring mixture to simmer.  Feel free to add shrimp if desired.

Cover and cook until rice is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. 

Garnish with remaining green onion and serve.

  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

The long, gray moss that softly swings
   In solemn grandeur from the trees,
   Like mournful funeral draperies,--
A brown-winged bird that never sings.

A shallow, stagnant, inland sea,
   Where rank swamp grasses wave, and where
   A deadliness lurks in the air,--
A sere leaf falling silently.

The death-like calm on every hand,
   That one might deem it sin to break,
   So pure, so perfect,--these things make
The mournful beauty of this land.

~ Albert Bigelow Paine

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