Bayoubaisse & Mardi Gras Barn Parties

Join Cajun Chef Ryan covering New Orleans and me in Mobile for this Mardi Gras Series

Barn parties are presently in full swing down here. Not your typical celebration as in ‘raising a barn’ but rather members of Mardi Gras groups getting a first glimpse of the floats for their upcoming parade.

Parades go back a long time in Mobile, the Society' de Saint Louis held their first "bouef gras" (fatted ox) celebration in 1710. This was the beginning of the Boeuf Graf Society, which formed that year in Mobile and followed the next with its first parade. Michael Krafft in Mobile established America’s first organized and masked Carnival Society, “The Cowbellion de Rakin Society.” On December 31, 1830, Krafft and six of his friends “borrowed” rakes, bells, hoes, and pitchforks from a local hardware store and paraded through the streets of Mobile until the early hours of New Years Day. After that, the Cowbellions costumes were made in France and delivered by ship to Mobile. In 1837, Members of the Cowbellion de Rakin Society introduced “throws” to the parade crowd. Cobellians threw sugar plumbs, 'kisses', and oranges to the crowd. In 1840, the Cowbellion De Rakin Society introduced “horse-drawn” rather than “person-pulled” floats and the practice of having a general parade theme portrayed by the individual floats. This first theme was “Heathen Gods and Goddesses.” Some would say it was a fitting theme for the revelers.
Barn parties are typically a way to show off the year’s worth of work in making the floats. Just weeks after last years parades, the floats underwent changes according to the theme for this year. There have been and are great designers who take on this task, this challenge of float building. From the greats like John Gus Hines, Ike Fellis, Catherine Haas, Web Odom and Steve Mussell, all have left or is presently leaving a mark in history by diligently designing and building these magnificent floats. It is somewhat a shame though, as the floats go gliding by and only a glimpse taken; the denizens of parade goers come for one purpose – to catch the throws, mostly ignoring these moving works of art. That is why it is important to show off these to the members, to drink a little, and to eat a little. And that folks is where we are now – consuming lots of beer and eating big bowls of local seafood at float parties. Enjoy!

This is a great dish to serve for a lot of folks as it easily doubles if you’re expecting more than 20 people - as we many times do.

1/2 cup cooking oil, divided
2 sticks butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 bunches green onions, chopped
2 -10 oz cans Rotel , undrained
2 -16 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
7 cups hot water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 teaspoon each of oregano, basil and thyme
6 bay leaves
1 pound crawfish or shrimp, peeled
1 quart oysters
1 pound lump crabmeat
2 pounds grouper or snapper, cut into bite size pieces
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups white wine
Chopped green onions & parsley for garnish
Cooked rice
    Begin by making the sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat by adding half the oil and butter. Add white onions sautéing until translucent. Stir in the celery, carrots, and green onions and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add the next 8 listings blending well, partially cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. Remove bay leaves and keep warm.

    Dust the seafood with the flour. In a large Dutch oven, add remaining oil, butter, and sauté garlic for a minute then add the seafood. Cook until seafood is golden in color. Depending on your pot, you may have to cook this in batches. Add the wine stirring to deglaze and cook for a few minutes to heat. Add the prepared sauce, cover and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

    Serve in large bowls with the rice and top with green onions and parsley. Besides a spoon, French bread is the only thing you will need to sop up the goodness.

    More about this series:


    1. sounds absolutely delicious!

    2. I have never experienced a Mardi Gras. Hope to visit you one day there. The dish sounds really delicious.

    3. Makes me wish I had a barn...and a big 'ol bowl of this seafood stew!

    4. Oh my how I love New Orleans cuisine. Great post and incredible dish. I am saving it and hoping to make it soon!!! I will have to wait until I get back to FL. My in-laws hate seafood and spicy food...

    5. Oh now this looks like a great recipe, reminds me of a New Orleans Seafood Chowder that I developed many years ago at Elmwood.


    6. This is perfect! Today is so cold in Philadelphia and that recipe looks like a great way to keep warm!

    7. Yum yum, and yum! This seriously sounds like just the thing, I love this.

    8. Wow, sounds like you're having a blast! Wish we had more communal activities like this down here in Central FL.

    9. Seriously is there anything you can't make ? my goodness this is a classic favorite and wow what a recipe! Awesome!

    10. This is a seafood lovers dish! Super yum.

    11. They sound like freat fun and that seafood soup amazing as usual!

    12. I've been to New Orleans years ago but never during Mardi Gras.It's on my wish list as is your meal.


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