Mardi Gras Gumbo

The Mardi Gras season is upon us and that means celebrating with good food, good drinks, awesome music and great friends. If you can't "Let the good times roll" on Bourbon Street, try this recipe and celebrate with your friends and family.

This gumbo recipe is simple and classic with its roots in French, Spanish, Native American, African and Island cultures and flavors . Though it looks complicated from the start, if you break it down you will have great results every time.

The cool thing about gumbo is that you can add anything you like. Feel free to add any type of canned, fresh or frozen vegetables, roots (parsnips, rutabaga, carrot, turnips) , and meats and seafood like venison, pork, lamb, crawfish, lobster.

* Remember to be patient with your roux. It is the basis of the whole dish and adds great flavor, color and thickness to your gumbo. Go slow and low and stir the whole time.

Homemade Mardi Gras Gumbo

  • 3 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 lb. Andoullie Sausage
  • 2 lb. Chicken thighs, Boneless, Skinless, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Salt and Pepper
  • 1 C Oil
  • 1 C Flour
  • 4 C Onion, chopped
  • 2 C Pepper, chopped
  • 2 C Celery, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 2 qts. Seafood Stock
  • 12 oz. Beer
  • 3 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tbsp. Hot Sauce
  • 3 tbsp. Creole Seasoning (See link below)
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1. Make the roux by placing a large pot on low heat. Add the flour and oil to the pot and mix until incorporated. Slowly cook this "roux" for 2 hours, or until it is the color of peanut butter. Stir constantly and do not burn this mixture. Be patient, this is a slow process.

    2. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Brown the sausage and remove from the pan. Brown the chicken and remove. Set the meat aside and chop into small pieces, reserving all of the juices.

    3. When the roux is done, add the chopped vegetables to the pot and sauté for 10 minutes.

    4. Slowly whisk in the broth and beer so that no lumps form. Add the meat, bay leaf, seasoning and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 hours skimming of any fat and foam that floats to the top.

    5. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce and mix. Add the shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes. Season the gumbo with salt and pepper and serve with a bowl of white rice. Garnish with parsley and green onion.

    Link for Creole Seasoning:

    Link for gumbo Video with Chef Egg:

    Creole Seasoning for Gumbo

    If you want to make a great gumbo, you have to have 3 things, the holy trinity if you will. The first is a perfectly cooked roux, the color of roasted peanuts. The second is spicy andoullie sausage. The trifecta of gumbo is a perfectly balanced seasoning. This recipe for Creole seasoning is great because it will give your dish a full depth of flavor that you just cant get from salt and pepper. You can make a large batch and keep it in an airtight container. It is perfect for gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya and for seasoning meats and seafood. This is strong stuff, so remember that a little goes a long way!

    Creole Seasoning

  • 2.5 tbsp. Paprika
  • 2 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Thyme
  • Place the ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. Store the seasoning in an airtight container

    Barbecued Beef Skirt Steak

    Recipe for Barbecued Beef Skirt Steak -- powered by ehow

    Barbecued Beef Skirt Steak

    • 1 tbsp. Oil
    • ¼ C BBQ Dry Rub
    • 1 lb. Beef Skirt Steak
    • Classic BBQ Dry Rub

      • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar
      • 2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
      • 2 tbsp. Smoked Paprika
      • 2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
      • 1 tbsp. Allspice
      • 1 tbsp. Oregano
      • 1 tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
      • 1 tsp. Cumin
      • 1 tsp. Dry Mustard
      • Dry the meat well and season with BBQ rub, let sit for minutes. Place the oil in a grill pan, when it smokes place the steak in the pan and let it cook for 4 minutes, turn once and repeat. Remove the steak from the pan and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

    The Best BBQ Dry Rub

    This is a recipe for a fantastic dry rub that I have been using for the past couple of years. It is unbelievably tasty on chicken, beef, pork, lamb, seafood and veggies. This rub is so awesome, it actually taste like a BBQ potato chip.

    It starts of with a simple sweet and salty combo of brown sugar and kosher salt. Then it gets bold flavor from Jamaican allspice and cumin. Next, paprika adds a smoky sweet flavor and deep crimson color. The addition of garlic, mustard, oregano and black pepper round out the flavor spectrum to give you classic BBQ flavor.

    I like to make large batches of this rub to store for the whole grilling season (which goes all year for me) and to share friends. This rub can be used by itself to give you a great flavorful crust on your grilled foods. It can also be topped with sauces at the end of cooking to create a dry rubbed/saucy combo that cannot be beat!

    Classic BBQ Dry Rub

    • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar
    • 2 tbsp. Kosher Salt
    • 2 tbsp. Smoked Paprika
    • 2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
    • 1tbsp. Allspice
    • 1tbsp. Oregano
    • 1tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
    • 1tsp. Cumin
    • 1tsp. Dry Mustard
    • Combine ingredients in a small bowl and seal in an airtight container to keep fresh

    Grocery Shopping for College Students

    Grocery Shopping for College Students

    Starting a new school year away from home cooking can lead to tons of fast food, convenience foods and a bad case of the dining hall bubble guts. In this post I am going to teach you how to stock your kitchen with fresh foods, new flavors and endless possibilities, all within a small budget.

    The first step in grasping your culinary freedom is to go to the grocery store with your friends and roommates. Combining funds on basic kitchen staples will save you time and money while increasing options and flavor combinations. Start with a list of essential items, a budget, a solid plan and most importantly, NEVER SHOP with THE MUNCHIES!!!

    I am going to walk you through the grocery store with one mission at hand: To buy food that is fresh, on the cheap, that provides good energy and can be switched up for different combinations all week long.

    Honey Orange Beef Skewers

    One of my favorite summer grilled snacks is thinly sliced beef skewers or satay. You can find ingredients in your pantry that can make a million different flavor combinations. Whether you season your beef with a Thai curry, southern BBQ, Indian masala, Greek rosemary and garlic, or a simple salt, pepper and herb blend, beef satay is always a crowd pleaser.

    You can use several cuts of beef for this recipe. I like to use budget cuts like skirt, hanger, flank steak and London broil. These cuts are really flavorful but can be tough if overcooked. Cuts like this can be sliced thin and cooked quickly to maintain tenderness. You can also use more expensive cuts like sirloin, rib eye and tenderloin if you want to go big.

    The recipe below is a simple asian inspired marinade. Soy sauce adds the saltiness, while the garlic, ginger, chili pepper flakes, orange juice and zest give the skewer a little kick. You can balance the salty flavor with a drizzle of sweetness in the form of honey, sugar, brown sugar or agave nectar. This also gives the skewer good caramelized flavor and color while it cooks on the grill.

    *Top 3 Skewer Tips*

    1. To slice the meat thinly and evenly freeze it for 30 minutes to make it firm, then slice and marinate

    2. Do not overcrowd or overload the skewer or it will not cook properly.

    3. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them for 30-60 minutes in hot water to prevent them from burning.

    Honey Orange Beef Satay

  • 1/4 C Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
  • 3 tbsp. Honey
  • 1 Orange, juice and zest
  • 1 lb. Skirt Steak, sliced thin
  • Mix the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and marinate the beef for 1 hour. Soak wooden skewers in hot water while the beef marinates. Thread the thinly sliced beef on the skewers. Heat a grill, grill pan or broiler over high heat. Place the skewers on the grill and cook until browned on side, flip once and repeat. Remove the skewers from the grill, place on a platter and drizzle with a little honey to glaze.

    Fat Tuesday Etoufee and Creole Seasoning!!!

    Happy Fat Tuesday Everyone!

    Mardi Gras has begun and the week long celebration in New Orleans represents total debauchery before the holy time of lent leading up to Easter. I have been to New Orleans and let me tell you this place is rockin' on any given Tuesday night, let alone Fat Tuesday. The music plays out of every bar and venue, the drinks are poured with a loose hand, the people love to smile and share and the food is second to none. This recipe for Shrimp Etouffee was inspired by Chef Emeril Lagasse who I had the pleasure to work with a couple of your ago. I worked with the chef while he was filming his show "Emeril Green" at a Whole Foods Market in Virginia. He was gracious to everyone he met and a real professional. As an aspiring TV host he was great example of how it's done. I even got several on air opportunities with him, which was a dream come true.

    Back to the food, the word "Etouffee" actually means "to smother" and is generally a thick, spiced gravy with shellfish and served over rice. As with most Louisiana cuisine this recipe has been influenced by the French, Spanish, Native American and West Indian Cultures. If you are thinking of making this at home, you need to give yourself some time, trust me it is definitely worth it. Below is a great recipe for etouffee as well as a dry Creole spice mix that can be used in gumbos and to spice chicken, pork, beef and fish.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Emeril's Shrimp Étouffée

  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 C All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 C Onions, chopped
  • 2 C Green Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 C Celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) Canned Tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Creole Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 qt. Seafood Stock
  • 3 lbs. Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 C Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 C Green Onion, thinly sliced for garnish
  • Steamed white rice, for serving
  • First you have to make a roux. This is a mixture of fat and flower that helps to thicken, flavor and add color to the dish. Take your time with this step because it is the base for the whole dish. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium/low heat. Add the flour and stir continuously over medium/low heat until the roux is the color of peanut butter, about 25-30 minutes.

    Next, add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of the Essence. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the cold shrimp stock.

    Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of the seasoning mixture and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are curled up and cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.

    Serve immediately over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onion tops.

    Creole Seasoning

  • 2.5 tbsp. Paprika
  • 2 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Thyme
  • Place the ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. Store the seasoning in an airtight container.

    Make Your Own Taco and Chili Seasoning

    Make your own Taco and Chili Seasoning

    I recently taught a cooking class about the magic art of making chili. We talked about all of the regional specialties and the combinations that you can make at home. You can do the easy "open the can and dump" quick cooking recipes or you can labor over the chili pot browning chunks of meat and cooking dried beans for days. I also explained that you can use pre packaged chili seasonings or you can make your own. Both options have their merits and are totally acceptable. Packaged chili mixtures are inexpensive and easy to use. The only drawback is that the seasonings can have a dull flavor and contain fillers like flour and potato starch.

    Making homemade chili and taco seasoning is easy to make and has big full flavor that will be great for most styles of chili. Look in your spice cabinet and you will find that you probably have most of the ingredient already. You can add anything you like to your chili, just remember that every spice has a job and will create different flavors to your recipe.

    To start out you want to get some basic ground chili pepper. This will add an overall "chili pepper" flavor to the seasoning without adding much heat. The next ingredient will be cumin. This will add the classic "taco flavor" to your spice mix. Ground onion and garlic are base spices that will enhance the overall flavor of your mix.

    Let's say you want to heat up your chili; you can do this with a little cayenne pepper, but remember to handled with care because a little goes a long way. Oregano will add some herbal flavor while a little salt will enhance the flavor of the spice mixture and the dish as a whole. Black pepper will add a little spiciness on your tongue and a nice pepper flavor. Lastly, you should add a little sweet paprika. This will add a little smoky action to your recipe.

    You can experiment with your spice mixture by using different chili peppers and warm spices to make your chili recipe one of a kind. Remember to keep your spice mixture fresh by storing it in an airtight container and enjoy!

    Homemade Taco and Chili Seasoning

  • 4 tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 3 tbsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne Chili
  • 2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container in your spice cabinet.

    Herbs and Spice and Everything Nice!

    Look in your spice rack, you probably see an unorganized mess of old bottles, dull flavors and seasonings you never knew you had. These kinds of seasonings get passed on by family and friends and cleared out during a big move. Sometimes you buy special spices for a recipe and then never use them again, forgotten, only to be found again when you move or finally clean up the spice rack and let's get real; that never happens.

    Seasonings like salt (sodium chloride), spices (ground seeds and pods) and herbs (plant leaves and buds) are a great way to get funky in the kitchen and explore the wide world of international flavors. As a new cook, you're looking to expand your culinary horizons, your flavor palette if you will. Well, there is lot's to choose from in the world of spices, herbs and seasonings. I am going tell you how to set up an inexpensive spice rack for an unlimited combination of flavors and experiences.

    Out with the Old

    The first step is to organize and clean out what you currently have. Trash all empty, old and duplicate spices. If you haven't used the seasoning in over a year, chuck it, then wash, rinse and dry the bottle to use later. Seasoning that you do keep should be kept airtight and in the dark to preserve freshness.

    Get Salty

    The next step in creating a simple and inexpensive spice rack is getting some good salt. A pinch of salt is the perfect amount to bring out the natural flavors in your food. Kosher salt is must for most cooking. It has good flavor, course crystals for searing and creating a tasty crust on meat, it is also very inexpensive. Kosher salt is a chef and home cooks best friend.

    Iodized salt is a finer grained table salt, inexpensive, good for baking recipes, seasoning dressings and dry rubs. However it's not good at all for creating a good searing crust on steaks, chicken, pork chops and seafood. Iodized salt also has iodine in it which is important for our bodies and not really found in other foods.

    Pepper in the Flavor

    After you have picked out your salt, you are going to need some pepper. Ground pepper is great for mixing with other spices but I don't really like it for everyday use. The story is that ground pepper by law, is allowed to have a certain amount of fillers and foreign objects like metal shavings and rat poop from the processing plant, WOW!, I know. I like to use whole black peppercorns when I cook at home and at work. These can be put into grinders and used give a fresh peppery kick to meat, vegetables and sauces and dressings. Any grocery store these days will have a full selection of low cost plastic pepper grinders and peppercorns for filling grinders at home.

    Stoke the Fire!

    Now its time to bring the FIRE! Hot spices are good way to bring the heat in your kitchen. Chili powder will bring a nice bold flavor to your food where cayenne will truly bring the flames. Remember a little goes a long way and too much will ruin your day. I also like to have cumin and paprika on hand. Cumin and paprika mixed with onion and garlic powder are great for making tacos and other "exotic" cuisines from India, Morocco and Thailand.

    Warm and Cozy

    Warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, anise, and allspice are used in baked goods, dry rubs for meats and creating flavorful curries. I like to buy pumpkin pie spice (a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg) which is available all year long is a great all in one option for warm spices. I even like to put a little dash in my coffee grinds before I brew a fresh pot. My friends love this because they think I bought really expensive coffee, when all I did is throw a dash of pumpkin pie spice in the mix.

    If you really want to get in the mix with warm spices, try Chinese 5 Spice. It has a mixture of cinnamon, anise, fennel, cloves and Szechwan pepper. You can spice chicken, pork ribs and tofu with this mixture for a warm, spicy effect.

    Spicy and warm spices are very cool for experimenting in the kitchen and you can buy them in small portions at a cheap price.

    Sugar and Spice

    Now you need something sweet in your spice rack and white and brown sugar will do the trick. Adding little sugar to your spice rub will intensify salty and spicy flavors and help create a crackling sweet crust on your food.

    Dried Green Herbs

    I like to use dried and fresh herbs in my cooking but the selection can be intimidating. Buying herb mixes like Herbs de Province and Italian Herbs is a great way to include new flavors into your daily cooking without any of the work. Herbs de Province is a mix of French herbs like sage, savory, fennel, basil, thyme, lavender and rosemary. This is a good mix to bake a chicken, herbed potato and to season soups and stews. Italian herb mixes can be used on pizza, garlic bread, pasta, meats, seafood and vegetables. It will have basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage and marjoram. Buying these herb mixes will save you time, money and space.

    Lastly get yourself some bay leaves. These dried broad leaves are like good luck in a pot of soup. It adds an herbal quality that brings all of the flavors together. Pop a few when you are making soups, gumbos, stews and sauces. Remember, if you get a bay leaf in your bowl, you have to clean the dishes.

    Below is list of seasoning that will really get you moving and shaking in the kitchen. This simple investment will put you on the path to culinary exploration and success.

    Now Get Cracking'! Chef Egg

    My First Spice Rack - Kosher Salt, Ground Pepper or Peppercorns, Chili Powder, Paprika, Cumin, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Chinese 5 Spice, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Herbs de Province, Italian Herbs, Bay Leaves, Sugar

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