Celebrating Fat Tuesday with Creole Beer Cuisine
Forty-six days before Easter, New Orleans celebrates Mardi (French for “Tuesday”) Gras (“fat”). This festival combines food, drink and carnival, in lavish excess and extravagance. The day after Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, signifies the transition into Lent, bringing all the gluttony to a close. Below is my interpretation of Creole cuisine for the beer lover celebrating Mardi Gras.
Catfish Hush Puppies
Fried crunchy pillows of cornbread, filled with catfish and spiked with a hoppy West Coast IPA. These puppies will wow the masked attendees of your Mardi Gras party.
Makes: 20–24 ping pong ball-shaped puppies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup corn meal (masa or polenta with a fine grit, gives texture)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cracked mixed peppercorn
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. chili (cayenne, chipotle or habañero, depending on your heat level)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 each red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 each corn ear, kernels removed
2 each eggs, large
3/4 cup IPA
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 each garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 tbsp. oil or fat (butter, bacon, duck, or lard)
2 fillet catfish, fresh, cut into half-inch cubes (seasoned with salt and pepper)
oil for frying, preferably peanut, corn, or vegetable
In a large bowl, add the flours, corn meal, baking powder, salt, pepper, Old Bay, chili of choice and onion powder. Mix together well, using a whisk. Add in the bell peppers and corn, tossing to coat with the flour mixture. In a separate bowl, larger than the first, add eggs, cream, garlic and fat; mix well. Add the flour mixture and fish to the liquid mixture, and stir until combined and a batter is formed.
In a sauté pan with high sides or a cast iron skillet, fill the pan with 2 inches of oil. Heat the pan to 325˚F. Using two tablespoons, scoop the batter into balls, and carefully slide into the oil. Fill the pan with seven or so scoops at a time. Turn the hush puppies over when golden brown, about 2–3 minutes and fry again for another 2–3 minutes on the opposite side. Remove with a strainer and place on a brown paper bag or paper towels, removing excess oil. Serve hot with a side of Cajun IPA Rémoulade Sauce.
Cajun IPA Rémoulade Sauce
New Orleans-style tartar sauce with a kick!
Makes: about 2 cups of sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. IPA, with a more citrusy hop finish
2 tbsp. ketchup or tomato paste
2 tsp. Creole mustard, or other beer mustard
2 tsp. capers, minced
3 each cornichons or pickles, diced
1 each garlic clove, peeled and minced
1–2 tsp. hot pepper sauce, preferably a Cajun style
1 tsp. Italian leaf parsley, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. anchovy paste (1 filet minced finely)
1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
In a bowl, add in all the ingredients and stir to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes, letting the flavors infuse. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking. This sauce is perfect with the Catfish Hush Puppies, and also great on a Po’ Boy sandwich with fried oysters, popcorn shrimp, crab cakes, or fish and chips.
Crawfish and Andouille Sausage Beer Crêpes
This multi-use filling is full of flavors from New Orleans. An elegant creation, it’s a great dish for a Creole-themed party, and not too complicated to create.
Serves: 6 guests as an entrée
Cajun Spice Blend Ingredients:
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. thyme, dried
1/2 tsp. pepper (cayenne, chipotle, ancho, habañero)
1/2 tsp. white pepper, ground
1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
Cajun Spice Blend Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together all the spices. This will become the seasoning mix for the filling with some reserved to use as a garnish for the dish. Season as much or as little based on your personal tastes.
3 each eggs, large
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup IPA, Pale Ale, or Nut Brown Ale
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp dry malt extract (DME, like Carnation Malt Powder) or sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. thyme, dried
1/2 tsp. mixed peppercorns, cracked fine
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup barley flour
In the pitcher of a blender, add the eggs, cream, beer of choice, melted butter, malt powder, salt, thyme, and pepper. Turn on the blender and mix well. Turn off the motor and add in the flours. Mix again, until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Place the pitcher into the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes before using.
To cook, place a crêpe pan or sauté pan over medium heat and lightly coat with butter. Using a ladle, add about 1–2 ounces of batter to the center of the preheated pan. Pick up the pan, tilt and rotate in a circular motion, letting the batter run, creating an even layer across the bottom of the pan. Place the pan back over the heat. Cook for a minute, until the top of the crêpe is like a soft pancake. Flip the crêpe and repeat. Usually the first few are sacrificial, then once you establish a routine, beautiful crêpes are created. Crêpes can be made in advance and refrigerated for a day or two, or frozen for up to six months.
Crawfish Filling Ingredients:
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cup shallots, peeled and minced (about 4 each)
2 each andouille sausage, diced (about 1 cup or 1/2 pound)
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
22 oz. Nut Brown, Amber, Pale Ale, or Red Ale
1 cup heavy cream
2 lb. crawfish tail meat (ask your fishmonger to order)
fresh herbs (chives, parsley, thyme, basil, sage) for garnish
Crawfish Filling Directions:
In a cast iron or heavy-bottom Dutch oven over medium-low heat, add butter and let melt. Add a pinch or two of the seasoning mix, then add in the shallots. Stir and let caramelize for 10–12 minutes, until dark brown. Every few minutes, season with the spice mix.
Add in the sausage and cook, increasing the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, letting the fat render from the sausage and crisping up the meat slightly. Add in the flour and stir well. This will make a roux, which will thicken the sauce. Cook the roux for 2–3 minutes, letting the flour turn a dark golden brown, stirring continually. While stirring, add in the beer and cream, mixing well to dissolve the roux into the liquid.
Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes, cooking out the flour taste. Add some of the spice mix and taste. Add the crawfish tail meat and mix to combine. Let the heat of the sauce warm the crawfish through, then turn off the heat and keep warm.
- Substitute crawfish for a mixture of prawns, crab meat, scallops, and/or cubed fish.
- Instead of making the spice mix, use a favorite Cajun spice blend.
- Use as a filling in a puff pastry shell.
- Instead of crêpes, use this filling as a sauce and pour it over cooked white rice (cooked in an Amber-style beer), polenta/grits, or over a blackened-style fish or poultry.
- For breakfast, try toasting some brioche-style bread with a poached egg, then top with the crawfish sauce. Dust with spice mix.
Take a crêpe and fill with about 1/4 cup of the filling down the center, then roll the crêpe into a tube, placing the bottom edge onto the plate. Repeat, making between 3–5 crêpes per plate. Top each plate of crêpes with a ladle of sauce, then garnish with fresh herbs.
The sweetness in this classic Southern pie with a bourbon crust and a malted whipping cream topping is cut by the roasty elements of the Stout. The nuts, bourbon, Stout, and maple flavors combine to make this an extra-special dessert.
Makes: one 9-inch pie (8–12 slices)
Pie Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1/2 cup pastry flour
3 tbsp. dry malt extract (DME, like Carnation Malt Powder) or sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces (16 oz.)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into small pieces
4–5 tbsp. bourbon, cold
Pie Crust Directions:
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours, DME, and salt. Pulse several times to mix the ingredients together. Add the cold butter and shortening to the bowl and pulse a few times to cut the fat into the flour. Keep pulsing until the mixture has small, grain-sized chunks of fat evenly distributed throughout the mixture. With the motor running, add the whiskey until the mixture just forms a ball. Since the alcohol mixed with flour cannot form gluten like water and flour can, over-mixing is not as much of an issue with this crust. Additionally, the alcohol will evaporate (40 percent alcohol), resulting in a flaky crust.
Form the dough into two equal-sized balls. Using plastic wrap, wrap each ball of dough, pressing down on each to create a thick disk. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to re-chill. This will make it easier to work with and help the crust from shrinking as it cooks.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take one dough ball and roll it out to 1/4 inch thick round, on a lightly floured surface. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a 22-ounce bottle that is chilled. Place the dough in your pie plate or tin. Crimp the edges of the crust and set aside. Use the second pie crust for another pie (try apple) or another application such as Kriek turnovers.
Stout Pecan Filling Ingredients:
3 each eggs, jumbo
3 each egg yolks, jumbo
1/2 cup dry malt extract (DME, like Carnation Malt Powder) or sugar
1/2 cup sugar, organic
1/2 cup bourbon barrel-aged Stout
1/2 cup corn syrup, light
1/4 cup maple syrup, grade B
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 cup pecans, shelled
Stout Pecan Filling Directions:
In a large bowl, add the eggs and yolks, whisking until light and frothy. Add the malt powder, sugar, Stout, corn syrup, maple syrup, melted butter, and salt; mix well. Add in the pecan halves and mix to coat. Pour this mixture into the prepared pie crust, smoothing out any pecans that are sticking out. Place into the center of the oven and bake for 50–60 minutes, until the custard is set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
Malted Whipping Cream Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp. dry malt extract
1 tbsp. sugar, organic
1 tbsp. bourbon
Malted Whipping Cream Directions:
In a cold metal bowl, add the cream, malt powder, sugar, and bourbon. Using a whisk, beat until soft peaks form. Top each slice of pie with a healthy dollop. ■