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Celebrate Mardi-Gras, Mississippi-style

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They're hard to miss: purple, green and gold sugar-encrusted king cakes are piled high on supermarket displays and in bakeries. That can mean only one thing: Mardi Gras season is upon us. Mardi Gras is growing in popularity, with revelers flocking to parades or at the very least, celebrating with the iced pastry rings filled with cream cheese and other flavorings.

Side note: I have a recipe for easy homemade King Cake, but realizing how easy it is to pick up one at the supermarket or bakery, I’m not sharing the recipe here. However, if your local store’s supply is running low or has been on the shelf a little longer than you’d like, drop me an email and I’ll share it with you.

But back to Mardi Gras. Mississippi’s Gulf Coast has been hosting Mardi Gras celebrations for years, complete with a spectacular coronation ball at the Coast Coliseum and parties rivaling those in nearby New Orleans. And, family-friendly parades, including a children’s walking parade and Krewe of Barkloxi’s PAWrade for pets roll in every city and town along the beach until Fat Tuesday.

Even better, the Coast’s family-friendly parades lack the craziness of NOLA. For a complete lineup of parades, check out the schedule at: https://www.gulfcoast.org/events/mardi-gras-events/

Additionally, a Mississippi-style Mardi Gras promises non-stop feasting. Personally, I enjoy Cajun and Creole food (and yes, I know they’re different, but equally delicious) 12 months of the year and Mardi Gras season is no exception. I rarely share family recipes given to me by my Coast friends, but in the spirit of Mardi Gras, I’ll make an exception. Here are a few of my favorites to make Mardi Gras ’23 one to remember.

Last, I rarely share my family’s recipe from shrimp Creole with anyone except special friends, but I’ll send it to anyone that requests it.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Biloxi Barbecued Shrimp

3 pounds large shrimp, peeled

2 sticks butter or margarine, melted separately

½ cup olive oil

Garlic salt

Celery salt

Lemon

1 cup barbecue sauce

Black pepper

½ cup of tangy liquid: white grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice or apple cider vinegar (optional)

Turn oven to broil, high heat. Cover bottom of heavy ovenproof skillet with one stick of melted butter. Place unpeeled shrimp in pan. Pour remaining melted butter on shrimp. Sprinkle olive oil, garlic salt, celery salt, lemon and barbecue sauce on shrimp. Sprinkle liberally with black pepper. Place shrimp under broiler pan for about 5 minutes. Turn shrimp and broil other side for 5 more minutes, watching to make sure shrimp don’t burn.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with your choice of tangy liquid (optional step). Put back under broiler for one more minute.

Serve with plenty of crusty French bread – it’s delicious dipped in the butter sauce!

Quick One-Pan Jambalaya

12-ounce package of favorite sausage

2 cups uncooked instant rice

2 cups water

½ cup frozen bell pepper, defrosted

16-ounce can stewed tomatoes

12-ounce package cleaned raw shrimp

¼ teaspoon thyme

2 tablespoons minced onion

2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon or two cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

Cut sausage into 1-inch diagonal slices. Place in large skillet. Brown as directed on package. Add remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Shrimp Remoulade

2-3 pounds shrimp

½ cup horseradish mustard

2-1/2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ vegetable oil

¼ cup finely minced celery

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons ketchup

¾ teaspoon red pepper

1/3 cup tarragon vinegar

Boil shrimp, peel and marinate in sauce made with remaining ingredients. Serve in a large boil with marinade, using toothpicks to spear the shrimp. Can be used as a dressing for salad. The flavor improves after marinating overnight.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at kkprco@yahoo.com.