There’s a reason Louisianans refer to today as Fat Tuesday: It’s the kickoff of Mardi Gras, which is in its essence a celebration of sheer indulgence. To properly ring it in, look to all of the standbys in the Cajun and Creole repertoire: boozy Ramos Gin Fizzes, briny Shrimp Étouffée, spicy jambalaya, decadent Bananas Foster and more. Even if you can’t make it to the Big Easy this year, we give you permission to go all out on the biggest day of Mardi Gras with a feast that’s worthy of a street parade.
|Ramos Gin Fizz
This is one of the most famous drinks of New Orleans, with gin, citrus juice, foamy egg whites and a splash of soda water.
These savory beignets are just a bit rough, with a springy texture similar to cake doughnuts. Studded with chopped crawfish, they’re like a cross between hush puppies and conch fritters.
|Cheddar-Jalapeño Corn Bread
Slather this spicy, cheesy cornbread with rich honey butter for a match made in heaven.
|Spicy Seafood and Sausage Gumbo
Filled with andouille sausage, fresh shrimp and crabmeat, this classic gumbo is hearty and satisfying. Serve over a scoop of white rice.
|Louisiana Seafood Boil
Louisiana is known for its seafood, and here, that’s the main event. Red potatoes and corn on the cob soak up the flavors of the spices and seafood.
|Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken and Ham
Here, we make the quintessential Creole dish — which combines chicken, seafood and a medley of chopped vegetables — in a slow cooker to streamline prep.
In Cajun cooking, étouffée means “to smother in its own juices.” This authentic version of spicy shrimp étouffée comes from New Orleans food maven Poppy Tooker, who provided us with her own family recipe.
Named for the round seeded loaf of Sicilian bread that provides its base, the classic muffuletta is filled with cured meats, cheeses and garlicky olive salad. Here’s our version, best served warm.
Flambéed desserts have been features of the New Orleans dining scene for ages. This luscious creation, traditionally prepared tableside, is made of sliced bananas flambéed with rum and vanilla.
|Carnival King Cake
These colorful, ring-shaped brioche cakes are a New Orleans specialty seen in bakeries and supermarkets in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. If you “get the baby” (a little plastic baby hidden inside the cake), you have to provide the cake for the next party.