Mardi Gras musts: Gumbo, crab cakes and more

Louisiana-based chef John Folse visits TODAY to help celebrate the start of Mardi Gras. A master of Cajun and Creole cuisines, he prepares gumbo, crab cakes and king cake — a must for any Mardi Gras party — to inspire Fat Tuesday revelers.

Chicken and sausage gumbo
Servings:

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 5-pound stewing hen
    • 1 pound smoked sausage or andouille, sliced
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 2 cups diced onions
    • 2 cups diced celery
    • 1 cup diced bell peppers
    • 1/4 cup minced garlic
    • 3 quarts chicken stock
    • 24 button mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 cups sliced green onions
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Sprig of thyme
    • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
    • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
    • Granulated garlic to taste
    • Louisiana hot sauce to taste
    • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
    • 6 cups cooked white rice

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Using a sharp boning knife, cut hen into 8-10 serving pieces. Remove as much fat as possible. In a 2-gallon stockpot or large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until golden brown roux is achieved. Stir in onions, celery, bell peppers and minced garlic. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Blend chicken and sausage into vegetable mixture, and sauté approximately 15 minutes. Add chicken stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook approximately 1 hour. Skim any fat or oil that rises to top of pot. Stir in mushrooms, green onions, bay leaf, thyme and basil. Season to taste using salt, pepper, granulated garlic and hot sauce. Cook an additional 1-2 hours, or until chicken is tender and falling apart. Stir in parsley then adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over hot white rice.

Tips:

You may wish to boil chicken 1-2 hours before beginning gumbo. Reserve stock, bone chicken and use meat and stock in gumbo.

Crab cakes rex
Servings:

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 pound lump crabmeat
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup diced onions
    • 1/2 cup diced celery
    • 1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
    • 1/4 cup minced garlic
    • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
    • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons Old Bay® seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon Creole mustard
    • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
    • Granulated garlic to taste
    • Louisiana hot sauce to taste
    • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Pick through crabmeat to remove any shell or cartilage. In a sauté pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and minced garlic. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until wilted. Remove and cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, combine sautéed vegetables and all remaining ingredients except crabmeat, bread crumbs and oil. Use hands to gently fold in crabmeat, continually checking for shell or cartilage. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Gently form crab mixture into 1 X 2 ½-inch patties. Dust lightly with bread crumbs then place on a cookie sheet. Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour. In a sauté pan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Sauté crab cakes 2-3 minutes on each side, turning each cake over gently to avoid breaking. Place crab cake in center of dinner plate and top with white or red remoulade sauce.

Mardi Gras king cake
Servings:

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

  • Dough

    • 1/2 ounce instant yeast
    • 11/2 cups warm water
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 5 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup dry milk powder
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup melted butter
  • Glaze

    • 2 pounds powdered sugar
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 tablespoon almond extract
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Assembly

    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 2 eggs beaten
    • Purple, green and gold sugars

Preparation

Baking Directions:

For dough:In a measuring cup, combine yeast and ½ cup of water. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Using a dough hook on an electric mixer, blend ingredients 2-3 minutes on low speed. In a separate mixing bowl, combine eggs, ¾ cup butter and remaining water. Slowly pour liquids and blossomed yeast into mixing bowl with flour, gradually increasing speed. Mix 8-10 minutes or until dough separates from bowl. An additional ½ cup of flour may be sprinkled into bowl if dough is too wet. Brush a large stainless bowl with melted butter until coated then place dough inside. Brush dough with remaining butter and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow dough to proof in a warm place 1 hour or until double in size.For glaze:In an electric mixer, combine sugar and salt. Mix on low speed while slowly pouring in almond extract and water. Add cinnamon and continue to blend until glaze is smooth. Set aside.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. After dough has proofed, roll out onto a well-floured surface into an 18 X 12-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Brush top of dough with melted butter, then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Cut cake vertically into 3 even sections. Pinch together end of each strip. Starting from the joined end, form into a basic 3-strand braid. Shape braid into a circle and pinch together to hold form. Brush entire cake with egg wash (milk and eggs) and put in a warm place until it doubles in size. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle glaze over entire cake and sprinkle with purple, green and gold sugars. These sugars are available at pastry and cake decorating outlets.

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