21 February 2006

Gumbo!

So I finally made gumbo again. M and I went up to Maine for President's Day weekend. We stayed with her friend up there and had a very good (if chilly) time. I won't go into the details of the whole thing, but I cooked the gumbo in a shallow pan, then rather than simmering it, I put it in the oven to braise for like 3 hours. Here's the basic recipe:

Basic Sausage n Chicken Gumbo
serves 8, apparently

1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil

3 medium onions, chopped coarsely
2 red bell peppers, chopped coarsely
4 ribs celery, with leaves, chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic, minced or put through press

3/4 lb. okra, cut into 1/2" rounds

1 box Swanson's chicken broth

1 Hillshire farms kielbasa or smoked sausage (light would've been better in retrospect), cut diagonally into 1/4" slices
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks

2 bay leaves
crushed red pepper
dried thyme

  • In a 3 qt pan, make a darkish roux with the flour and oil. I stayed lighter than I have before and had good results. I cooked the roux to slightly darker than natural peanut butter.
  • Heat a heavy skillet or griddle alongside the pot.
  • Add peppers, onions, celery to the roux and stir, cooking, until soft (10 minutes?). This stops the roux cooking, makes it look pasty and clumpy, but it's nothing to worry about. Add garlic halfway through.
  • Add okra and broth the the pot, stirring until roux is worked in. Thin with water if necessary.
  • Fry the sausage slices on the griddle/skillet until they have at least some char on both sides. Add to the gumbo as they brown.
  • Fry the chicken chunks as above.
  • Deglase the skillet with water and add the juices to the gumbo.
  • Simmer or braise 1 hour and serve over rice.
Braising for a long time made everything fall apart. The texture was good from the okra, but lacked variety or body. I still like medium-grain sushi rice, like Nishiki for the gumbo, cooked until sticky, and a big scoop in the middle of the bowl, with the gumbo served over and around it (topped with parsley), but a kitchen mishap had us using a mish-mash of Basmati and Nishiki for the rice. It also caused a burn on their formica countertop (oops) and clogged up their drains with half-cooked rice.

The big surprise here was that with salad and dessert, this recipe comfortably fed 8 hungry people. More lessons about portion size, I guess. I hope we get invited back to stay, though I despair of my chances to get invited to cook again after destroying their kitchen and their plumbing. Maybe a curry or a chowder will change their minds.

1 comment:

liz said...

Rich - you're certainly welcomed back at any time. And yes, we would even have you cook for us again (Guz requests a curry dish). Plumbing mishaps are the price we'll pay for a delicious meal! Thanks for posting the gumbo recipe - I plan to use it in the near future when I have a group from work over for dinner. Take care, and don't be a stranger...