It's Mardi Gras time in N'Awlins and I have been remembering get togethers in the past with friends. My husband and I have some very good friends back in The Big Easy that live two houses from one of the parade routes. We spent a lot of time at their house during Mardi Gras. Their home was a gathering spot for their friends and family. On Sundays, there were usually two parades, one in mid-afternoon followed by an evening parade. We would gather around noon and everyone would either bring a dish or cook when they arrived.
I cooked what I call Cajun Smoky Mountain Pasta last night. I hope you enjoy it as much as my twelve year old did last night but not as much as my co-workers did today :( They ate my lunch!
One ingredient you will need to make ahead of time is "Essence". This is one of Emeril Lagasse's seasonings that I always have on hand. It's great for seasoning a multitude of meats and veggies. The recipe for Emeril's "Essence" is a follows: 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Mix ingredients in an air tight container to keep as a pantry must!
Cajun Smoky Mountain Pasta - In a large, heavy pot, over medium to medium high heat, heat up three tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add one medium onion chopped and one pound of cubed tasso (optional). Saute until onions are soft. Add two teaspoons of Essence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, mix together and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of white wine to deglazed pot and cook until almost all of the liquids are evaporated. Lower heat to medium add one cup of heavy cream, one 8 oz. package of light cream cheese (room temperature), juice from half a lemon and about a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Blend well and stir until cream cheese is completely melted. Add one pound of crawfish tails and two chopped scallions and a palm full of freshly chopped parsley. Let crawfish tails heat through over low heat, then stir in about 3/4 lb. of cooked penne pasta. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.
It's Mardi Gras in the Smokies!!!