Mardi Gras is also known as Fat Tuesday because it falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when some Christians choose a 40-day period of abstaining from excess. In New Orleans, the carnival season leading up to Fat Tuesday lasts for weeks, but for most of us in the rest of the country, we chose to have a Mardi Gras-inspired feast one evening during the season.

This year, Fat Tuesday falls on Feb. 12. If you’re working on your menu for a Mardi Gras feast, I’ve rounded up a few recipes that you’re going to want to check out:

  • Shrimp or Crawfish Étouffée: This thick, flavorful stew of shellfish and finely diced vegetables “smothered” in spicy broth and served over rice is a standard of Louisiana Cajun cooking.
  • Mixed Rice Jambalaya: This shrimp and rice side dish is so hearty, it could be a main dish with all the vegetables, seafood and grains it has in it.
  • New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce: It’s the whiskey sauce that turns this basic bread pudding into something really amazing. It’s not for kids, though; the whiskey is added right at the end, so the sauce is full-strength.
  • Bread Machine King Cake: King Cake is a must for a traditional Mardi Gras celebration, but it takes a while to put together because it’s actually a yeast bread. Using the bread machine makes quick work of that step.
  • Turkey and Sausage Gumbo: A traditional New Orleans recipe uses the turkey carcass and turkey meat along with smoked sausage to make a huge, crowd-pleasing pot.
  • Cajun Breaded Chicken: Family friendly and super tasty, this easy breaded chicken uses Cajun seasoning mixed with flour for dredging the chicken. This added step makes everyday breaded chicken perfect for a Mardi Gras feast.

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