You can prepare the gumbo a day in advance and refrigerate it until you plan to serve it; the flavor will only improve as it sits.
If you like, you can also mix the batter for the jalapeño shrimp cornbread several hours ahead, or even the night before. Simply measure it into individual ramekins, wrap them, and refrigerate until ready to bake. If you bake them straight from the fridge, they may need a few extra minutes in the oven.
King cakes, which commemorate the Epiphany—the wise men’s discovery of the baby Jesus—are eaten the world over in various forms, but they’re especially popular in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Tradition calls for hiding a small figurine of a baby inside; whoever gets the trinket is crowned king. If king cake isn’t really your speed, our white chocolate bread pudding or bananas foster also makes an excellent ending to the meal.
The Sazerac and the Vieux Carré are both classic New Orleans drinks made with rye. If you’re not a fan of whiskey, we’ve got plenty more cocktail ideas in our collection of New Orleans-inspired drinks.