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Mardi Gras Madness!

We had a lot of fun at the Mardi Gras celebration, lot's of people showed up, lots of fun was had. The air was redolent of spiced crawfish, smoky sausage, and fresh piping hot beignets.

I was not expecting such a big crowd, and it was all we could do to keep the food flowing for a little while.

Anna's King Cake

Laura poured some of the best Hurricanes I have seen in years, and Anna's king cake was sampled many times before ever making it out to the dining room.

The king cake and Beignet dough were rising all day in the kitchen, and the whole crew wore beads. we had a lot of fun, it seems like everyone did.

(Toggle through the Beignet slideshow above by clicking on the < and > arrows).

Growing up in the South, and spending quite a bit of time in New Orleans and the Gulf coast, I have a lot of happy memories of this time of year. We have all been under a lot of pressure the last couple of years and haven't had a big party in a while.

I was so glad we could do this, and I want to thank you all for being there. Not a lot to say in this blog, but lots of pictures, I will share my recipe for crawfish below though...

The Crawfish for me were the highlight. Being from the south and living in New Orleans, I have a particular fondness for these spicy, aromatic little crustaceans.

Angry Crawfish

There are more than 30 different species of crawfish in Louisiana, but really only two are farmed large scale: red swamp crayfish and white river crayfish. While genetically distinct, they are very similar and appearance and for culinary purposes are the same, most of us would never know the difference and they are commonly mixed together when purchased.

Crawfish are usually shipped in burlap sacks that allow air to flow but also kept the little creatures moist. These sacks are usually about 30 pounds so whenever we do live crawfish at Vi, we end up with a LOT of crawfish. It is important to keep the crawfish alive until cooking, like crabs and lobsters, they contain an enzyme that will quickly break down the meat after death. If you have ever had a lobster tail that smelled fine but the texture was too soft, this is probably what happened.

Before they are cooked, however they are purged. The live crawfish are sprinkled with salt, which causes them to empty their digestive tracts. They are then thoroughly washed and inspected for any dead or sick ones. The downside to this method is that once they are salted and rinsed, they are very much awake and very angry, making it much trickier to pick through thirty pounds of annoyed claws.

How to cook a sack of crawfish:

Step 2: Sauté the Andouille sausage, onions and garlic together in oil.

1. Start with:

1 Cup oil

10 pounds Andouille sausage

5-6 pounds onions, sliced

2-3 pounds garlic cloves, whole

2 cups Old Bay seasoning

1 cup blackening seasoning

[or more if you like]

1 cup Worcestershire

5 gallons water

2. Open one of the beers. Taste it. Good, isn't it?

In a very hot pan, sauté the sausage, onions and garlic together. When the sausage starts to brown and the onions are aromatic, add the spices and cook for five more minutes. Add the Worcestershire and the water. Oh man, your beer is empty. Open another one. Bring the water to a boil, and add:

5 pounds redskin potatoes, sliced in half

10 pounds corn on the cob

12 each lemons, cut in half

30 pounds live, cleaned, very angry crawfish

3. Stir the corn, lemons, and crawfish together making sure that the crawfish are all submerged in the hot water and are killed instantly. Cover the pot, and simmer for another twenty to thirty minutes. After your third Turbodog, open the pot and check. Smells good doesn't it? As the crawfish cook, the fat rises to the top and the spices infiltrate the corn and potatoes. Heaven. Keep warm until ready to serve.

4. Go put on some clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Get some colorful beads. Call some friends. Dump the whole pot of crawfish onto a table. Get a plate. Get another beer, man these really are good aren't they? Pick up a crawfish by the tail in one hand and grasp the head with the other. Gently twist the head off the crawfish, it is full of yumminess. Go ahead, suck the juice out of the head and discard. Peel the shell off the tail and eat that. Repeat.

It was so great that Yo and the cabinet team joined us, I want to Thank Bob, Anna, and the whole Dining team, as well, for a great time.

We will do this again, don't forget to come to the Culinary Corner Monday at 10 am to hear about the menu and have coffee with your neighbors. Just a note-the Sip and Savor Event has been moved to the 15th of March. Don't miss it!

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