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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gumbo


     In the run-up to the super bowl, in addition to chili recipes and avocado dips, one can always find a recipe for gumbo.  It was particularly true this year because the game is being played in the Big Easy.  The traditional versions are quite an undertaking and produce an amount far exceeding the demands of a two person household.  Nonetheless, I've always wanted to try it and, based on a picture of a freezer stacked with Tupperware bowls of gumbo, I set out to try it.  I used a recipe from the well-known New Awlins chef, Emeril Lagasse.  Many classic Cajun recipes start with the phrase, "First, make the roux."  A roux is nothing but a mixture of equal parts oil and flour.  This recipe used a cup and a half of each.  They can range in color from blonde to chocolate depending on how long they cook.  The challenge is that they need to be continually stirred over a medium heat in a cast iron pot or skillet for a half hour or so.  My back, especially after standing at the chopping board with all the other prep work, was not enthused about another 30 minutes of standing and stirring.  Hence, the stool.
     As always, when I'm cooking, our fuzzy scavenger is patiently alert for ANYTHING that might fall or even spatter to the floor.  It is actually a challenge to avoid stepping on or tripping over him while bustling about the kitchen.
     The first step is to simmer a chicken (6 pounds) and make two gallons of stock.  In addition to the water and chicken I used 2 quartered yellow onions, a couple stalks of celery cut into 2 inch chunks, 2-3 bay leaves, a tablespoon of salt and half tablespoon of cayenne pepper.  That's the big pot you see on the back left of the stove.  It simmered for 2 hours.  When it was done, I removed the chicken, strained the broth, and discarded the solids.  After stirring the roux slowly and continually for about 35 minutes, it was smooth and dark brown.  At that point I added to the roux 2 cups of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped green pepper, 1 cup of chopped celery, and a half pound of chopped Andouille sausage.  While the roux and veggies simmered, I removed the skin and bones from the chicken and coarsely chopped it.  It made quite a pile of chicken.  The next step is to combine the broth and the roux.  If you let the broth cool some and add it a few cups at a time while stirring gently you can prevent the roux from separating.  That would be a difficult, if not impossible, disaster to recover from.  This all went back into the stock pot along with the chicken and a pound of smoked sausage cut into quarter inch slices.  I returned it to a boil and simmered it for another hour and a half.  Adjust the taste and stir in 2 Tablespoons each of chopped green onion and fresh parsley.  Serve with rice.
     As you can tell, it is quite a project; and it requires almost continual attention.  This is not "fix it and forget it," slow cooker recipe.  But, it was a fun, if messy, project.  The first meal was good, but I'm expecting a subsequent meal, warmed up slowly in a double boiler, will be even better.  Although I did some clean up as I went along, Durelle muttered something about, "Never again" for nearly an hour as she cleaned up after me.
     Let me close with a shot of the photogenic member of the clan comfortably ensconced in Durelle's recliner.

1 comment:

Eleanor & Dick said...

....labor intensive, but I'm sure delicious. Looks like Baxter was in a "pout" because he didn't get any.
Eleanor