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From Beignets to Etouffee: Welcome Fat Tuesday

It is true that I am not much of a Mardi Gras chef, so I leaned on my favorite chefs from the food network and decided to share a couple of my favorite recipes. Because I am a die hard ‘savory’, I will start with the Etouffee. And you thought it was because dinner comes before dessert. Silly!

Etouffee
Cameron Maddux via flickr.com

Shrimp and Chicken Etouffee

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound andouille sausage, diced
* 3 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
* Kosher salt
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 4 stalks celery, diced
* 1 large onion, diced
* 1 green bell pepper, chopped
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
* 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 2 tablespoons dry sherry
* Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and andouille and cook, stirring, until crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Season the chicken with salt, then add to the pot in batches to brown, 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate with the andouille.

Make the roux: Remove the pot from the heat and cool slightly (there should be about 1/4 cup drippings; drain or add oil as needed). Return the pot to medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, scraping up the browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture smells nutty and turns a deep brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Whisk in the broth. Return the chicken and andouille to the pot and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly while the stew simmers; remove the skin and shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot. Stir in the shrimp and sherry and cook until the shrimp turn pink, 2 to 3 more minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Sweet Beignets

Beignets
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clamhead/

Ingredients

* Corn oil, for frying, or another oil with high smoke point, such as safflower or peanut
* 3 1/2 cups sifted flour, plus extra for rolling
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 4 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1/3 cup canola oil
* 1/3 cup milk
* 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for serving

Directions

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed, wide-mouthed pot halfway with corn oil and heat over a medium-high flame until oil reaches a temperature of 360 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl whisk together sugar and eggs. Stir canola oil and milk into sugar-egg mixture. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture until a biscuit-like dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface and turn out the dough. Sprinkle dough lightly with flour and, using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut into 2-inch squares. You will have scraps leftover but do not try to remix these as that will cause tough dough; just fry as are.

Use the dough scraper to lift dough squares off the work surface. Fry the beignets in small batches about 4 minutes, or until golden, turning several times to color evenly. Using a slotted spoon gently remove the beignets and drain thoroughly on paper towels. Place powdered sugar in a sieve and shake over the beignets to cover with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

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