Les Bons Temps

Our five favorite recipes for Mardi Gras.

Laissez les bon temps rouler (or, let the good times roll)! We’re embracing the tradition of the upcoming Mardi Gras holiday with a menu of paella cubana with crayfish, shrimp and grits, crab cakes, beignets and a Bourbon Street cocktail. Salut!

Paella Cubana

8 small chicken thighs, skin on
½ cup cooked chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 each red bell pepper and green bell pepper, diced
3 cups Valencia rice (parboiled)
¼ cup red wine
½ cup water
4½ cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon annatto seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriande
pinch of saffron
pinch of turmeric
½ cup green peas
1 dozen mussels
1 dozen clams
1 pound crayfish
1 dozen scallops
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large paella-style pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides. Add the chorizo to the pan while chicken is browning. Remove chicken and chorizo from pan and set aside. Add garlic, onions and peppers to pan and sauté until soft. Add rice, wine, water, stock, salt, bay leaves and the remaining spices (a packet of seasoning like Goya Sazon Con Azafran, available at most Latin markets, may be substituted if necessary) and peas while stirring well. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare seafood. Place mussels and clams in a saucepan with water, cover and set over low heat. Steam until the shells open, approximately 5 minutes (some shells may not open—discard those that remain closed). Remove from heat and set aside. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan. Sauté shrimp and scallops for approximately 1-2 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange the cooked seafood, chicken and chorizo atop the rice mixture, stirring to partially incorporate. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees to combine flavors.

Serves 6

Shrimp and Grits

2 tablespoons togirashi (Japanese seven spice)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
Enough oil to sauté shrimp
18 pieces large white shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups Anson Mills stoneground grits
4 cups milk
1/2 pound butter
1 onion, diced
1/4 pound okra, sliced
6 pieces piquillo peppers, diced
4 links sausage of your choice, diced
2 cups chicken stock
8 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt

Mix all spices together and toss with shrimp to fully coat. In a large saucepan, on low heat, melt butter. When all butter is melted, add grits and toss. Add milk and a pinch of salt. Cook slowly for 40 minutes, stirring constantly.

In a large sauté pan, heat a small amount of oil over high heat. Add shrimp, onion, okra, piquillo peppers and sausage and sauté for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and cook over high heat for 3 minutes, until shrimp are done. Remove shrimp, and reduce liquid to a sauce-like consistency. Turn off heat, and add butter. Whisk to incorporate. Plate over grits.

Serves 6

Crab Dip

8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon milk
1 pound of crabmeat
1 tablespoon creamed style horseradish
2 tablespoon chopped sweet onion
salt to taste

Combine the cream cheese and milk with a mixer. Fold in crab, onion, horseradish and salt, taking care not to break up the crab too much. Fill chafing dish with mixture and. Top with cracker crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until brown on top.

Serve in heated chafing dish with crackers or toast points.

Serves 10

Bourbon Street Cocktail

2 ounces Lexington bourbon
½ ounce Domaine de Canton
ginger liqueur
1 ounce simple syrup
1 dash  orange bitters
ginger brew, your choice of brand, to fill

Build in a highball glass packed with ice. Garnish with lemon peel.


1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour
1/4 cup shortening
Nonstick spray
Oil, for deep-frying
Confectioner's sugar

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture into the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow two hours for rising.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few and toss in confectioner’s sugar.

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