Tag Archives: gumbo

GUMBO – PART TWO: THE IMAGES

Oops! I am not having much luck with the internet these days. First I bought a new Netgear router for my home network. It worked like a charm until I discovered that it would not talk to WordPress. After several calls the Word Press people said it was not their problem. Then I called Netgear and spent two days talking with technicians in India. While they were friendly and tried to be helpful, they could not solve the problem.

We left for LA with my laptop in tow, only to discover that it no longer connected to the internet, and the repair would cost the same as a new computer.

Next, we went to our daughter’s house, and I tried to use her computer. Her router went down and had to be reinstalled. Then I tried to use my wife’s computer at the place we are renting. You guessed it – the router went down.

Now I am working from the only 3-prong plug available, sitting out in the bright sun. I couldn’t see the screen very well and wound up pressing”Publish” instead of “Update”.

As a result of all of this, my gumbo post got published without the images. I am giving it a second try.

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DR. D’S LOUISIANA ANDOUILLE AND CHICKEN GUMBO

During this Christmas holiday, we were fortunate to have visits from two of our children and their families. Christmas is always a time to enjoy old family favorites, and since our youngest spent most of her growing-up years in Louisiana, we decided to make gumbo for our first evening. We lived long enough in Louisiana to learn how to make some of its classic dishes. We also benefited from lessons from some great cooks among our friends, some of them Cajuns. Nothing says “Cajun” quite as much as gumbo, and the great thing about the dish is that you can make it with whatever you like: oysters, shrimp, a mixture of seafood, duck, alligator, or whatever. This version, chicken and andouille sausage, is one of the most popular because the ingredients are readily available and taste so good together.

I don’t know where I got this recipe. Certainly it has been influenced by my friends, Reggie Graves and Ronnie George, but over the years I have tuned it and tweaked it so that I feel like it is “mine”.

When our daughter, Sarah, was in cooking school at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, as with all of the students she was responsible for preparing one family meal for her classmates. She chose to make this gumbo, and it was so popular that it was included in the official recipe book of the school. They called it, “Dr. D’s Gumbo”, and so here it is. It’s really very simple, but there are a lot of individual steps. You can take shortcuts, but if you do, it just won’t be real Louisiana gumbo.

Chicken stock. First, you make your own chicken stock. Actually, you start out with commercial chicken stock, but with your own vegetables, seasonings, and chicken, it becomes home-made and doubly rich. You will need chicken, commercial chicken stock, yellow onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and fresh tomato along with salt and black peppercorns.

The Cajun Holy Trinity. Second, you need to prepare your vegetables – the so-called Cajun Holy Trinity of onion, green pepper, and celery – before you start to cook. When you make the roux, you will be skating on the edge of disaster. It must be just the right color – as dark as you can make it – but if it burns, you will need to start over. The cut vegetables serve several important parts of the recipe. Of course, flavor is a major purpose, but stopping the roux from further cooking is equally important. That’s why you need to have it at your elbow to dump in the pot just when you think the roux is finished.

Roux. Third, you need to find the heaviest pot you have and the biggest metal spoon. Undoubtedly you have made a traditional French roux for béchamel or as thickening for various soups and sauces. That is not Cajun roux. The whole idea is to get the roux as dark as you can so that the rich smokiness flavors the soup. That requires constant stirring in a heavy-bottomed pot until your level of fear overtakes you. Any black bits – in other words, if it burns – you have to start over from the beginning.

Thickening.  As the roux darkens,  the flour loses its thickening power while adding to its flavoring power. As a result, there are two other ingredients used to thicken the soup.

First is okra. In fact the OED says that the word, “gumbo” comes from the Angolan word for okra. Many cooks prefer okra in the gumbo during the growing season. In the winter, when gumbo is guaranteed to take the edge from a cold day, filé becomes the preferred ingredient. There are many Cajuns who prefer filé for thickening all year long.

Filé is ground up dried sassafras leaves. If you live in the US South, you probably know where there is a nearby sassafras tree, and you can make your own filé. Aficionados swear it is by far the best to make your own. For the rest of us, there are several Louisiana food companies that sell filé in bottles. Once you buy your filé, the first thing to do is to transfer it to an empty Old Crow half-pint whiskey bottle to serve as your decanter on the dining room table.  Tightly stoppered, the filé keeps for a long time, but if you notice it has lost some of its thickening power, buy a fresh bottle.

Sausage. Traditionally, gumbo is made with andouille sausage. The Louisiana version is made with pork; the French version is made with chitterlings (I think you know what they are) so be sure you know what you are buying.  These days, most large super markets have andouille in the meat section, but if you have a hard time finding it you can substitute Polish kielbasa.

Spice. Gumbo can be as mild or spicy as you like. most folks from Louisiana like it on the spicy side, but food sensitivities in our family dictate a mild version. Fortunately you can add your favorite chile sauce to give the gumbo you prefer. Traditionally, Tabasco is often favored, but it has a vinegary punch that some don’t like. There are any number of other Louisiana hot sauces you can choose, or you can opt for Cholula from Mexico, or the current popular hot sauce, sriracha.

RECIPE

Louisiana Andouille and Chicken Gumbo

Ingredients

  • 32 ounce container of commercial chicken stock
  • 1 whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved
  • 2 ribs celery cut in thirds
  • 1 large carrot, cut in thirds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 or 4 stems of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 whole black pepper corns
  • water to cover
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1½ pounds andouille sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery chopped
  • 2 large green bell peppers, seeds removed and chopped
  • 5 scallions with green tops chopped + more for garnish
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (You may use lard if you want to be authentic)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Louisiana hot sauce (optional)

Method

  1. In a large stock pot, pour in the chicken stock. Add the chicken, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper. Add water to cover the chicken. Then bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is done, about 45 minutes. With your hand, squeeze in the tomato, seeds and all. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the chicken to cool until it is easy to handle. Strain the stock into a large bowl, and set aside.
  2. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin. bones, and any veins you might see. Cut the chicken meat into bite sized pieces and set aside.
  3. Cut the andouille sausage into 1 inch sections and then quarter each section. Set aside.
  4. Combine the chopped onion, celery, green pepper, and scallions in a large bowl. Place next to the roux pot so you can add it quickly to the roux before it burns.
  5. Using a very heavy pot and long-handled metal spoon, place the oil over high heat. As the oil begins to shimmer and just before it smokes, sprinkle the flour gradually into the oil while stirring constantly. The flour should sizzle as it hits the hot oil. It will start to darken immediately. Constant stirring is essential, being ure to scrape the corners of the pot. You can stop whenever the roux is colored to your liking, but Cajun moms will push it until it is almost black (ALMOST black – if you get some black flecks, it means that you have burned the roux and need to start over)
  6. Immediately dump in the chopped vegetables to stop the roux from darkening further. Stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent.
  7. Stir in enough of the chicken stock to get the consistency you want. Return to the boil. Add the chicken and andouille and simmer for another 30 minutes to meld the flavors.
  8. Correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
  9. Serve in a large soup bowl over a heap of cooked white rice. Pass chopped scallions, filé, and more hot sauce so that all can suit themselves.

 

A bowl of chicken and andouille gumbo

A bowl of chicken and andouille gumbo

 

File in the obligate Old Crow bottle

File in the obligate Old Crow bottle

 

Your choice of Louisiana hot sauces

Your choice of Louisiana hot sauces

 

Apot of gumbo ready to be served over rice

Apot of gumbo ready to be served over rice

 

Cooked chicken ready for the gumbo pot

Cooked chicken ready for the gumbo pot

 

Andouille sausage

Andouille sausage

 

Gumbo base simmering

Gumbo base simmering

 

The Cajun Holy Trinity stirred in to stop the roux from darkening too mucn

The Cajun Holy Trinity stirred in to stop the roux from darkening too mucn

 

Roux beginning to cook but it needs to get a lot darker than this

Roux beginning to cook but it needs to get a lot darker than this

 

You need the biggest metal spoon you can find to keep you from getting burned with Cajun napalm

You need the biggest metal spoon you can find to keep you from getting burned with Cajun napalm

 

The bowl of chopped vegetables ready to be dumped into the roux

The bowl of chopped vegetables ready to be dumped into the roux

 

Chopped vegetables

Chopped vegetables

 

The Cajun Holy Trinity

The Cajun Holy Trinity

 

Cooking the chicken to also make a double-rich chicken stock

Cooking the chicken to also make a double-rich chicken stock

This recipe should easily serve 8 to 12 hungry people

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ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE

A while back, my friend, John Ed, and I made a batch of Andouille sausage. We used a recipe from an excellent book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, W.W. Norton and Co., New York and London, 2005. We wound up with more than we had anticipated, so I put some of it in the freezer. The other night when I woke at 3 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to reorganize the freezer. (What else is there to do at three in the morning?) I came across the Andouille and thought a bowl of gumbo would be good during the changing fall season.

I wasn’t sure, though, how the sausage would taste after those many month of storage, so I made a quicky throw-together meal to try it out. The meal turned out better than I expected, and the Andouille was in good shape. Next on the schedule, then, is chicken and Andouille gumbo.

For making the sausage, you should have a stand mixer which can be fitted with a meat grinder/sausage stuffer attachment. You will also need some sausage-making supplies including “pink salt” (DQ Curing Salt, aka DC Curing Salt, aka Prague Powder #1, aka Insta-Cure, aka Modern Cure.) Whatever the name, the salt is a mixture of regular salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrite prevents bacterial growth, especially the organism that cause botulism. You will also need sausage casings, preferably medium natural hog. If you live in a big city you can probably find those things in a local meat-packing or butcher supply house. If you can’t find them, you can get them on-line from Butcher and Packer

The quick dish is basically tomato sauce and cooked spaghetti, but the flavorings from the Andouille season the mixture beautifully. Few dishes to wash, and you can get back to whatever you are doing.

RECIPES

Andouille Sausage

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt *(see above)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 cup yellow onions, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 10 feet of medium hog casings , rinsed free of preservative salt and soaked for 30 minutes

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and chill until ready to grind.
  2. Using the meat grinder attachment of your stand mixer, fitted with the small die, grind the mixture into the mixer  bowl that has been set in a larger bowl filled with chopped ice.
  3. On medium speed, using the paddle beater, mix the ground meat mixture for about 1 minute until it becomes sticky.
  4. Correct seasoning by frying a small piece of the ground meat in a small skillet, tasting it, and adjusting seasonings as needed to suit your taste.
  5. Change the meat grinder so that it has the sausage stuffing horn attached.
  6. Thread the hog casing onto the stuffing horn, and working slowly but smoothly, fill the hog casing with sausage mixture.
  7. Twist the filled casing into 6-inch links.
  8. Hand the sausage string on a hook or stick and let dry for 2 hours at room temperature.
  9. Smoke the sausages in a Bradley stove-top smoker or in a charcoal grill with damp wood chips added. Internal temperature should reach 150°F (65°C)
  10. When the sausages are smoked, cool in an ice bath, and then refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Sausage and Mushrooms with Quick Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 smoked Andouille sausages
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 4 medium crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 41.5 ounce can, tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cut dry spaghetti

Method

  1. In a heavy-bottomed medium pot, brown the sausages and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, cook the onions and mushrooms, being careful not to burn. Return the sausage to the pot.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce and minced garlic. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cut spaghetti, and cook at a slow boil until the spaghetti is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve while still hot.

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