New Orleans. Jazz, Etouffee, Gumbo, Crawdads, Floats, and Hurricanes. There are many things that New Orleans is known for, and many are unique as flavors and traditions blend together to create the food genre known as “Cajun & Creole Cooking.”

While both came from the same region, the distinction between Cajun and Creole cooking is quite simple, complimentary, yet vary greatly.

Like many areas of the U.S., New Orleans cuisine is influenced from a variety of nationalities and customs. French, African, Native American, Italian and other components can be found in the wide variety of dishes.

Known for its spice, not all New Orleans dishes are spicy hot. There is spicy flavorful, and spicy hot, and then there are the more elevated dishes with heavy French influences. Think crepes, beignets, and rich cream sauces.

Cajun dishes in simple terms would be considered the poor man’s food. Using cheaper or more economical cuts of meat, and items readily harvested from the waters and land, Cajun dishes tend to be heavily spiced and seasoned with heavy and use-plentiful items such as rice, sausage, onions, peppers, black pepper, and rubs. This is where you get Crawfish Boils and Jambalaya, and Rustic Stews.

Creole cooking on the other hand, is going to be a bit more sophisticated. This is what would have been served in the big house on fine china and silver. While still maintaining a level of spice in some dishes, you’ll find a more subtle palette than with Cajun cooking, but there is definitely cross over and blending of cultures.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, is Fat Tuesday for 2023. A day filled with culinary indulgences. And what is Fat Tuesday you ask? Well, in French, it is Mardi Gras. And this is where the confusion kicks in.

Mardi Gras season is a month-long festive of balls, parades and celebration, beginning on Epiphany, or Jan. 6, culminating on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

This is why Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras is on a different date each year, just as Easter is.

While there are many well-known dishes that celebrate New Orleans, and Mardi Gras, one of my favorites is neither spicy, nor hot, but rather a subtle nod to the region.

Many people think of Etouffee, Creole Chicken, or Gumbo, my leaning is toward something that is just as confusing as the name suggests. BBQ Shrimp is really not barbecue at all in the traditional sense, but it delicious, and easy to prepare.

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is a simple way to celebrate the holiday and can be used as an appetizer or entrée when served over rice with a side of Fried Okra, or Stewed Tomatoes.


• 1 pound nicely sized shrimp; peeled and deveined or head on, your preference;

• 4 T olive oil;

• 4 T butter;

• Flour for dredging (optional and not when using heads on);

• 2 T crushed garlic;

• 1/4 T red pepper flakes; more if you like, you can also add, cayenne, garlic salt, etc., to your liking;

• 1/4 C white wine;

• Italian parsley – chopped;

• Worcestershire;

• Your favorite hot sauce — Tabasco would be the go to, but I prefer Franks;

• 2-4 C seafood or chicken stock, or dark beer (yeah, beer!);

• Salt and pepper; and,

• Brown sugar.


In a medium sized sauté pan, heat your butter and oil to sizzling, but not smoking.<br />

Next, lightly toss your shrimp in flour, just to dust (skip if using whole shrimp, but I prefer the flour to help thicken the sauce and help it stick to the shrimp).

Now add in your garlic. Adding it too early makes it easier to burn it, which ruins the dish.

Sauté shrimp on both sides until just beginning to turn pink and circle the pan with white wine and cook it off.

Add parsley (I like a lot of parsley), Worcestershire, and hot sauce, and sauté a bit longer until shrimp have slightly curled, but not overcooked.

Slowly add your stock, 1 cup at a time to get the consistency you like and season to your liking. Sauces for BBQ Shrimp vary from very light broth, to slightly thick.

If you prefer a thicker sauce, add a pat of butter mashed in flour, or make a quick roux in the pan prior to adding your liquids.

But here is the secret: brown sugar.

Once your dish has come together and you have the consistency you like, add 1 T brown sugar. It adds a sweetness and richness that makes the dish even more unique.

Serve over your choice of rice with fresh lemon wedges and chopped scallions.

A simple, quick, easy to prepare Mardi Gras dish, heavy on the flavor, light on the heat.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. He also has a radio show, the Prescott Palette, on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email:

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