While many associate the city of New Orleans with Mardi Gras, did you know Alabama held the first celebration a full 15 years before Louisiana? It’s true! Mobile kicked off the first festivities in 1703. Mardi Gras then moved to New Orleans in 1718 when the capital of the French Louisiana territory moved to what’s now known as the Crescent City.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the culminating feast of the Carnival season, which runs from Epiphany on Jan. 6 to Ash Wednesday. Today, it’s celebrated with masked balls, parades, beads and, of course, food.
To help you revel in Carnival, I’ve gathered up some of my favorite classic Cajun, Creole and New Orleans-inspired dishes, including two one-pot meals that give you tons of flavor without tons of work.
Weeknight Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya is one of my all-time favorite recipes because it’s a great way to get a taste of the Big Easy without having to tear up the kitchen. Considered a Creole dish because it has tomatoes, you can use any type of sausage, from kielbasa to andouille, depending on your taste and what’s available in your local grocery store.
My Skillet Red Beans and Rice is packed with a heaping helping of Cajun flavor but is on the table in less than 45 minutes. Folks are always impressed by how many N’Awlins nuances this little dish can hold.
The best part is both dishes are quick and easy meals sure to please your family once Mardi Gras season is in the rearview mirror.
But Mardi Gras wouldn’t be the same without king cake, so I’m sharing two takes on the sweet, colorful, cinnamon-specked treat — one that’s more traditional with a cream cheese filling and then a super-easy pull-apart bread. Both are topped with sugar sprinkles in classic Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. You can also practice the tradition of hiding a small plastic baby in the cake. Remember: Whoever finds the baby is required to provide the next king cake.
Regardless of how you celebrate, y’all be sure to, “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” or let the good times roll!