Chef Fernando Mackenzie serves his Paella Gumbo over saffron rice to add some Creole flare.

Big Easy Bites

Jazzed-up recipes for your Mardi Gras celebration


New Orleans is an epicurean's dream, known for its always stewing melting pot of spicy flavors influenced by French, Caribbean, and African cuisines. Invigorate this Fat Tuesday with these modern riffs on soulful Creole classics from club chefs. Think hearty chicken and sausage Spanish-style gumbo and po'boys heaping with fall-off-the-bone pork. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Executive chef Fernando Mackenzie of Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista, Calif., uses smoked linguica sausage, pimiento peppers, sherry, and fresh clams for a snappy Spanish take on gumbo. In keeping with the theme, he serves it with saffron rice instead of white rice.

1 cup melted butter
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup fresh pimiento peppers, diced
3 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato, diced
1 pound linguica sausage, sliced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, medium dice
3 tablespoons blackened seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons gumbo filé
1 cup sherry
10 cups chicken broth or stock
1 pound fresh littleneck clams
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped saffron rice, cooked according to package directions

To make the roux, in a large stockpot combine butter and flour and cook over low-to-medium heat until dark brown while stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Set aside.

Place vegetable oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat and saute onions, celery, peppers, garlic, and tomato until soft. Add sausage, chicken, and spices. Continue to cook over medium heat 10 minutes until meat is cooked through. On high heat, deglaze the pan with sherry. Lower the heat and reduce liquid by half. Add chicken broth and bring up to a simmer.

Stir in the roux and continue to simmer for 1 hour. Add clams and simmer until the clamshells open. Sprinkle in parsley and green onions and serve the gumbo with a side of saffron rice.

Yield: 6-8 servings

"To add a toasty depth to the roux - the most important component of gumbo - toast the flour in the oven on low for about 15 minutes before adding it to the gumbo."

Executive chef Josh Amos of Southern Trace Country Club in Shreveport, La., shares his updated version of the classic New Orleans slow-roasted cochon, a suckling pig slowly cooked in an underground fire pit.

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 pounds pork shoulder
3-1/2 tablespoons blackened seasoning
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 cup melted garlic butter
6 (6-inch) French baguettes, split
6 large kale leaves
Mustard Horseradish Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced

Mix rosemary, thyme, citrus zest and juices, and Worcestershire in a bowl large enough to fit the pork shoulder. Add the pork shoulder and generously rub with the blackened seasoning. Transfer to a deep 9-by-13 baking dish or pan large enough to contain pan juices.

Preheat the oven to 260 degrees. Fill the pan about half an inch deep with water and add the liquid smoke. Roast the pork uncovered for 3-1/2 hours. Cover with foil and continue roasting for another 3-1/2 hours. Remove from oven and shred the meat.

Spread melted garlic butter on the inside of the baguettes and toast until golden brown. Dress with kale leaves. Divide the pork between po'boys and top with Mustard Horseradish Sauce and roasted red peppers.

Yield: 6 servings

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sour cream
pinch white pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate.

"Save and freeze the pork roast juices after shredding the meat to make outstanding sauces or gravies.''

For two more newfangled variations on Creole classics, log on to on your mobile device, click on Private Clubs, and then click on the Bonus Content headline.
• Creole Rubbed Beef Ribs With Bourbon-Spiked Barbecue Sauce
• Blackened Red Snapper With Pontchartrain Sauce

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