Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Further South

So I took a detour a few states south from my mother's territory to celebrate the cuisine of my husband's side of the family...Lake Charles, Louisiana, just in time for Mardi Gras. I feel incredibly blessed to have married into such an enormous, warm, and wonderful Southern members who are actually close and enjoy each other's company. The Blake Brothers (Uncle Bill, Uncle Henry, and my father-in-law, Jim) are definitely the patriarchs. But the matriarchs, the mothers young and less young, as is usually the case, provide the heart and soul of the family. The food, the drink, the traditions, the family history—they are all a very special bunch! Wish we could pop in and sit a spell with them far more often than we do. In fact, I think the California Blakes are due for a visit!

Last week we celebrated the Saints unbelievable victory in the Super Bowl with Shrimp Creole—a recipe I found in an old Creole cookbook. This week, Chef John Besh of August in New Orleans was the inspiration for our appetizer—we had his Sweet and Tangy Creole Wings. And then my standard Mardi Gras "go to": Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo. I'm always amazed when the roux turns that perfect copper penny brown; I feel like I can make anything if I can get that roux to work.

[I had wanted to include a crawfish boil and King Cake in the menu, but again, life and the 2 year old...]

These wings are sinfully delicious. The perfect balance of tangy orange, heat from the garlic chili paste, and, of course, brown sugar to make them sticky and yes, finger-licking good.

Sweet and Tangy Creole Wings
from Zatarain's; Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef John Besh

3 pounds chicken wing pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ZATARAIN'S® Creole Mustard
1 tablespoon garlic chile paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning* 

1. Preheat oven 450°F. Toss chicken wings with oil in large bowl. Arrange in single layer on foil-lined large shallow baking pan.

2. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken wings are cooked through and skin is crisp.

3. Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients in large skillet. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is reduced by half and is the consistency of syrup, stirring frequently. Using tongs, transfer chicken wings to skillet; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

*I mixed up my own jar of Creole seasoning using a recipe I found on another favorite blog: Fetch Taigan

Basic Creole Spices

Makes 1/2 cup (I doubled it for future use!)

2 tablespoons celery salt

1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Mix together the celery salt, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and allspice in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and store.

And to make the celebration complete, my new favorite drink, the drink of New Orleans: Pimms Cup No. 1. After discarding the standard plan to serve Hurricanes, we found this more refined and refreshing drink to be the perfect addition to a Mardi Gras menu. Maybe it's the cucumbers, but this drink is extremely light and refreshing. Makes you want to sit on a porch on a sticky, humid summer afternoon listening to Dr. John, contemplating the delicious concoctions simmering on the stove.

1 comment:

  1. It just isn't summer without Pimms! It really is delicious. Those wings look amazing too.


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