January 5, 2010

Mardi Gras - Cajun Pick-Me-Ups

Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Long before the parades start to roll, even as far back as to when crewes and captains, debutantes and bachelors, even the kings and queens are finalizing plans for the carnival season, many households are preparing for the three to four week long party. A party that officially starts on the Twelfth Night, King’s Day or the Feast of the Epiphany, whichever name you like to call it and in the winter month of January, on the sixth to be precise. However, to many the season starts in the late autumn month of November. This launches the social season with announcements and unveiling the names of the rulers, debutantes, ball themes and all forth coming. Parties begin on just about every block during this carnival season and as we get closer to Ash Wednesday or the beginning of Lent, celebrations and revelry are at every house along the route.
Mardi Gras refers to Fat Tuesday, a day of celebrating, indulging and eating the fats of the land before the Lent season begins, which is always 46 days before Easter. Because of the long season and to avoid confusion with our out of town guests, we refer to this day as Mardi Gras Day since to them Mardi Gras is much longer than just one day. The Monday before, we refer to Lundi Gras for the arrival of the King of Mardi Gras. And not to confuse anyone, Mardi Gras Day is also referred to in parts of the world as Shove Tuesday, Pancake Day and even Fetter Dienstag.

In the coming weeks leading to Mardi Gras Day, I will join Cajun Chef Ryan, a New Orleans expat in delving more into the history of Mardi Gras and more importantly into our favorite foods we like during this festive and indulging time. As we say around here, Laissez les bons temps rouler! (let the good times roll).

First up is an appetizer that’s sure to please all guests and with the spicy dipping partner, sure to get folks in a celebratory, drinking mood. Enjoy!

Cajun Pick Me Ups
For 20 to 24 people

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup hickory flavored barbecue sauce
1 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 lemons, sliced
1/4 cup liquid smoke
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Red pepper sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
5 lb med. shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large saucepan, sauté garlic in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes and add remaining ingredients except shrimp. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add shrimp to a large roasting pan and pour sauce over shrimp. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes or until shrimp begins to turn pink. Remove to a rack and let cool.

Place in refrigeration for several hours for everything to blend.

Before serving, reheat shrimp and transfer to a chafing dish set on low heat.

More about this series:
  • -Join Cajun Chef Ryan and take a look at his Mardi Gras Post. His first recipe of the series is his awesome King Cake, with a step by step guide in making this traditional Mardi Gras pastry.
  • -Next Tuesday ~ A little more history and a recipe for one of my favorite foods for a large crowd.
  • -Learn more about Mardi Gras in Mobile at Mobile Bay
  • -Historical timetable from Mardi Gras Digest


  1. This appetizer looks appealing, gorgeous dish!

  2. Yeah, another shrimp dish. You know I will surely love this one! Why is there only one shrimp there in the picture? Please don't avoid me...will promise to share :P

  3. I am eagerly anticipating enjoying Mardis Gras through you! Please tell me you're going to make a King Cake?

  4. @Christine - thank you
    @MaryMoh - that one shrimp was mine, I saved the rest for you...
    @Tasty Trix - I have asked Ryan to join me on this project, if he doesn't do a King cake, I will.....

  5. Yes, today's post on the CCR blog is a similar introduction, and tomorrow I will post a King Cake recipe that is quite easy to do at home.

  6. wow, the shrimp looks amazing. Could eat tons of the stuff!

  7. I've had this before and loved it. It is a huge crowd pleaser. As always this blog is a great read.

  8. Love the background story...and I want to see your King Cake, too!

  9. Oh those delectables would certainly pick me up! I ahve some shrimp in the freezer ... I know it's not fresh .... love that you start the pre-mardi gras days already.

  10. Such delicious shrimp and I love the idea of Mardi Gras series - looking forward to learning more about it!

  11. ok so you will have to delete my last message you were way ahead of me, can't wait to learn all about the behind the scenes that goes on with pictures...do they body paint you?? beads??? see I have no clue, pajama's I love parties!!! oh boy can't wait for all the perfect shrimp recipes like this one you've got my attention!

  12. Yummy looking shrimp! And great idea for a series.

    Funny you should mention both "Pancake Day" and "Fetter Dienstag" here... we used to celebrate "Waffle Day" in my high school German classes (I was much less an avid cook then; I always volunteered to bring soda or Reddi Whip.)

  13. I've never heard of Shove Day, I'll have to Wiki that.

    ... love the shrimp recipe - definitely a pick me up for a snowy day!

  14. Liquid smoke? That sounds interesting. I love shrimps. arrrrr

  15. Great way to cook with shrimps! Thanks for sharing :)