Untangle your beads, dust off your masks and shake out your feather boas. Mardi Gras takes place on Feb. 9.
If you’ve never cooked New Orleans foods before, it is a great time to start. Put some Clifton Chenier or Queen Ida on your playlist, make yourself a Hurricane cocktail, and party like it’s a second-line parade.
Mardi Gras is one of the most exuberant celebrations of the year, in part because New Orleans is by definition fun and in part because it hasn’t become a major commercial holiday. The day is almost entirely about fun and good things to eat and drink. Indulging is the point, since Mardi Gras is followed by Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.
Today we provide the menu for a home celebration, with French 75 cocktails to start, an appetizer with remoulade sauce, cabbage and andouille sausage with rice and, for dessert, bananas Foster.
Although the French 75 is thought to have been developed in New York during World War I, it is a popular New Orleans cocktail. The cherry is traditional, but you also can use a few pomegranate arils if they are in season.
4 ounces gin
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
— Sparkling wine, champagne or cava
2 long spirals of lemon zest
2 cocktail cherries, optional
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, add the gin, lemon juice and sugar and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled, about 15 to 20 seconds.
Strain into two champagne flutes, dividing the mixture as evenly as possible. Tip the glasses, one at a time, and fill to the top with sparkling wine. Add the lemon zest spiral and the cherry, if using.
Serve this take on the classic sauce with shrimp, on sandwiches, and over avocado halves filled with fresh crab. It is excellent with almost any type of grilled or fried fish, too.
New Orleans-Style Remoulade Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream or creme fraiche
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ lemon, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
½ teaspoon hot Spanish paprika
Put the mayonnaise, sour cream or creme fraiche, ketchup, coarse-grain mustard, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and vinegar into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside briefly.
Put the lemon, onions, celery, parsley and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with its metal blade. Pulse several times, until ingredients are evenly minced but not pureed.
Add the mixture to the mixing bowl, using a rubber spatula to scrape out every last bit .