Feb 8, 2011

It's Carnival Time!

Just the first few opening notes of Al Johnson's classic gets any New Orleanian in the carnival spirit!

Did you know that Carnival season (as it's often called in New Orleans) starts January 6?  This is Twelfth Night, 12 days after Christmas.  It's also the day bakeries have King Cakes ready.  (Although, like everything else--from Easter baskets to Christmas decorations--King Cakes are now available well before Carnival season starts.)

Here in Cajun country, Mardi Gras is just that...Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.  There may be a few street dances on Lundi Gras (Shrove Monday).  And my town holds a boucherie on the Sunday before Mardi Gras.  But this is definitely not a season* of parades and parties like in New Orleans.  *While kick-off is a set date of Jan 6, the length varies from year to year

Sometimes I miss the non-stop action.  Sometimes, when I choose to acknowledge reality, I know it would just exhaust me.

So I'm aiming for a happy medium.  Yes, January 6th is the official start.  But I don't start making plans until we're about a month away.

From now until March 8, Mardi Gras 2011 (that's on a Tuesday, yall!), I'll be making dishes to celebrate the season.  My mom's crab dip, classic New Orleans milk punch, my annual homemade king cake (w/ blueberry filling this year--assuming it works out), and beignets.

In New Orleans, everybody knows somebody who lives along a parade route.  Friends and family gather early ("buhfore da parade traffic, dawlin'"), share food & fun, watch the parade together, linger a while after ("tuh wait out da traffic").  A parade is an all day/night event!

Today, it's a dish that's good for feeding such crowds:
Red Bean Gumbo

Mise en place for Red Bean Gumbo
the usual suspects: onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic
smoked sausage, pickle meat,
vegetable oil & flour for the roux
chicken stock, kidney beans,
salt, black pepper, red pepper, Tony's, bay leaves,
parsley, green onion, cooked rice

Standard gumbo procedure:
make sure everything is chopped before starting your roux
and don't use a non-stick pot!

Go here for step-by step roux making.
One thing I've never addressed about making a roux is this...
part way through making a dark roux,
it may get clumpy and grainy (bottom left).
Just keep on truckin', stirring away, and it will smooth out in no time
(bottom right)

I'll say it again because it's important: have everything chopped and ready.
Roux waits for no man (or woman)! 
The best way to burn it is to be caught with your pants down.
Yep...that would most definitely burn.

After cooking the veg down in your roux, add the meats.
I used hot smoked sausage and leftover pickle meat from the freezer (from the white beans I recently made).
If pickle meat is unavailable, use salt pork, ham hocks, smoked turkey legs, or pork neck bones for seasoning.  Or just throw in some extra sausage.

The beans...
I decided to puree half and leave the other half whole.
It's a texture thing.  I like texture.
The pureed beans added a nice creamy, velvety feel,
while the whole beans added a different dimension.

I had a little trouble getting the pureed beans to blend in.  I'd suggest whisking them into the chicken stock, then adding everything, including your spices to the pot.  Simmer about 2 hours to all day.

About the rice to gumbo ratio...
Gumbo is not gravy!
There should be much 
more liquid than rice in your bowl.
Add a small mound of rice, ladle the gumbo over, and enjoy!

Linked up with

Full Time Mama

The Ultimate Soup Recipe List ~ Linky Party


And linking with Tailgating Game Week @ Drick's Rambling Cafe

Printer friendly recipe
Red Bean Gumbo
from Ms. enPlace

1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut in half moons
1/2 lb pickled pork ("pickle meat"), chopped in bite size pieces
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c flour
2 quarts chicken stock
3 cans dark red kidney beans, puree half, leave the other half intact
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Tony's Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup each chopped parsley and green onion
cooked rice

Chop all vegetables before starting the roux.

In a large cast iron or stainless steel pot (don't use non-stick), heat vegetable oil.  When oil is hot, sprinkle in the flour.  Stir constantly but carefully.  Roux can easily burn and burn your skin.  Continue cooking and stirring until the roux is a coppery brown color.  If pools of oil form, sprinkle in more flour and incorporate.

When your roux is the color you'd like (darker = more flavor but less thickening power), quickly add the chopped vegetables.  Sauté until tender, adding a small amount of water or stock if needed.  Add the sausage and pickle meat and sauté for 5-8 minutes.

Stir or whisk the pureed beans into the stock to help blend the mixture.  Pour into the pot along with seasonings and the whole red beans.  Simmer for about 2 hours to all day.

Just before serving, add the parsley and green onion.  Serve over rice.  Pass hot sauce at the table.


  1. OH. MY GOODNESS! Your gumbo is fantastic...wish I could have a big bowlful! I cannot wait to see all of your other Carnival Food...so exciting! One day I want to get to Mardi Gras =) Thank you for sharing this w/ the hearth and soul hop this week!

  2. Please come make this for me. Please.

  3. Oh boy! I'm in the mood now. Enjoyed your music. Love a good gumbo, and Carnival is a good excuse to make some.

  4. just learned about "tony's" this sound delicious.

  5. I always love reading your posts about the local goings-on. Sounds like you're in for a fun few weeks coming up (not to mention tasty too). I'm looking forward to hearing it all.

    This red bean gumbo looks beyond delicious! You know how much I love beans:)

  6. oh wow, you are one of the few that I know who uses pickled pork - I keep some in the freezer for red beans and rice and I do a three bean/three sausage gumbo but have not thought of adding the pickled pork, now that's a whole nutter layer of flavor......beautiful and thanks for linking this one in, now I'll always have it on file...

  7. Wow, this sounds delicious!! I'm not sure where to get pickled meat, but I can definitely get ham hock. YUM!
    Thanks so much for sharing with us at DDT!

  8. Awesome idea to mix a great gumbo (yours) and RB&R. I have thought about combining the two, and plan to try this next week! I also love the creamy texture of the mooshed beans, but what if you cooked the beans in for the 2 hours, then smash some against the side of the pot? Can't wait to try it! Happy Mardi Gras and Hail Endymion! ;0)

  9. Made this over the weekend and WE LOVED it, the hubby loved the aroma and the flavor...i used salt pork, couldnt find pickled meat. soooo delish!!!!

  10. Anonymous1/13/2015

    I have never heard of red bean gumbo before there is seafood gumbo,chicken gumbo,orka gumbo red beans or cooked with same seasonings and meats sometimes with pig tails but never with a roux (gravy) or puréeing of half the beans that goes to show you that every person from Louisiana does not cook the same you learn something everyday

    1. I had never heard of red bean gumbo either until my brother's in-laws made it for a family party. It is so true that everyone cooks differently--even in the same regoin. I think it comes down to what you grew up with and learned from your family.

  11. Anonymous1/13/2015

    Why or comments not showing if they or not to your liking

    1. Because of spam issues, I have comments from older posts set to be filtered before pubishing.


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