It’s impossible to celebrate Mardi Gras without color. There are the traditional colors of purple, green and gold that make the seemingly endless float “throw bead” so collectible.
Then there are the three colored sugars that dust the treasure hiding King Cake. Add the thousands of sparkling costumes that fill the streets and Mardi Gras is one of America’s most colorful holiday.
Yet chefs from New Orleans to Charleston are never part of this colorful parade because chefs wear white and wear it proudly. Here’s why:
The heavy cotton material helps insulate the chef from the intense heat of the professional kitchen. The cotton fabric, however, allows the air to circulate, cooling the chef and protecting him or her from hot spills and splashes.
The white cloth is easily bleached enabling stains to aggressively removed. Additionally, white connotes cleanliness.
The long sleeves also help to protect the chef’s arms from cuts and burns. The traditional knotted buttons don’t chip or fall off as plastic buttons tend to do. Equally, they can come undone quickly in case of an emergency caused by flame or hot oil.
Historically chefs’ jackets are double-breasted. This enables the chef to be “floor-presentable” in case the jacket gets stained - the busy chef simply reverses the flaps and greets guests with ease and grace.
Yet the world of the bust Mardi Gras chef is not without color – especially if they’re preparing a holiday favorite – green oyster gumbo.
Oyster Gumbo Verde
- 1 lb. assorted Greens (Collard, mustard, turnip, kale)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp ghee, butter or olive oil
- 1 pint Taylor fresh oysters and their liquor
- Salt, black pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste
- 2 cups cooked rice, optional
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.
- Wash, de-stem.
- Roughly chop greens, keeping thick greens like collards separate from tender ones.
- When water is boiling, add salt and thick greens.
- Lower heat to medium high and cook for 4 minutes.
- Add tender greens and cook an additional 3 minutes.
- Drain greens in a colander and press out liquid.
- Add 1 tablespoon ghee to large sauce pan and sauté onion for 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Do not brown.
- Add celery and green pepper, and continue to sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add mixture to blender.
- Add greens and 1 cup of water.
- Purée for two minutes or until completely smooth.
- In the sauce pan used to sauté onions, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon ghee.
- Add oysters and their liquid. Bring to a simmer, about five minutes.
- Do not boil.
- Add contents of blender and bring to a simmer, about 5-7 minutes.
- Do not boil or overheat.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce.
- Serve with rice if desired.