Celebrate Mardi Gras with John Besh's Shrimp and Sausage

Photo by Ditte Isager/EdgeReps
Photo by Ditte Isager/EdgeReps

Since the heart and soul of Mardi Gras is in New Orleans, we looked to KCET chef John Besh when searching for a celebratory Fat Tuesday dinner. Besh, based in the Big Easy, is renowned for his Louisiana-style specialties, and this dish gets right to the heart of Fat Tuesday: no better way to indulge than with shrimp in a gravy of both bacon and sausage.

Green Onion Sausage and Shrimp Gravy
Serves 6-8
1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat
1 pound green onion pork sausage, removed from casings
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon flour
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
clove garlic, minced
teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch allspice
2 dashes Worcestershire
1/3 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 green onion, chopped

Melt the bacon fat in a large heavy-bottomed pan over high heat, then add the pork sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until it is browned, 12-15 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are deep brown, about another 15 minutes.

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Reduce the heat to medium, then sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring to mix it into the sausage and onions. Cook for about 2 minutes.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan. Sauté until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside while you continue making the sauce.

Add the bell pepper, garlic, pepper flakes, allspice, Worcestershire, tomatoes, and chicken stock to the pan, stirring well. Increase heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Add the thyme, green onions, and shrimp and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grits, rice or potatoes.

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