As cliche as it may seem, when a big winter storm is rolling into town, I just can’t stop thinking about what kind of soup or stew is going to be simmering away on the stove top or in the Crock Pot. It’s even better when this kind of weather hits on a weekend, because those of us who love to while away hours in the kitchen will have plenty of time to do it.
So far, I’ve heard from an editor who plans to make chili in the Crock Pot and our wonderful librarian, Belinda Harris, who will be making her mother’s cream of potato soup this weekend. Personally, I’m going for gumbo. I have never made gumbo before, but since the New Orleans Saints are playing in the Super Bowl in a little over a week, I want to run a good gumbo recipe in the paper.
I don’t usually put recipes out on the blog before I run them in my column, but in this case I think it would be nice if any of you want to try it out with me and give me your opinion. Gumbo, it seems, is not a soup for beginners because it requires the darkest roux you can make without burning it. The color of a dark brown roux is sometimes compared to chocolate. It requires quite a bit of time and patience to stir the fat (oil or butter) and flour mixture over a medium-low heat to achieve the correct color. This darkest of rouxs is what gives the gumbo its depth of flavor.
The recipe I found is from Emeril Lagasse, and it calls for vegetable oil in the roux instead of butter. That gives me a little pause. It also calls for duck legs, but I’ve called around and have not had much luck finding duck legs in town. Breasts and whole ducks, sure, but not legs. So I’m omitting the duck legs. This recipe already calls for 3 pounds of chicken anyway, and duck is expensive.
I’ll paste it below. UPDATE: Check the next blog entry for a report on how this recipe went for me.
If you’ve made gumbo before, I want to hear from you. If you try this recipe, I want to hear from you. And if you plan to make a big old pot of something hot this weekend, I want to hear from you!
Looking for a soup or stew recipe? Let me know and I can consult my library of cookbooks for ya.
Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Makes 4 quarts
Editor’s note: If this is your first time making a roux, the slower you cook it, the less likely you will be to burn it. The important thing is to cook the roux to the desired color, as specified above.
For the roux:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell peppers
2 lbs. smoked sausage, such as andouille or kiebasa, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, browned in a skillet, and drained on paper towels.
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
3 bay leaves
10 cups chicken stock
3 lbs. boneless chicken meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tsp. Creole seasoning (available in the grocery store spice aisle)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
Freshly ground black pepper
Steamed White Rice, for serving
Hot Sauce, for serving
1. Place a heavy, iron Dutch oven over medium heat and heat the oil until just smoking. Whisk in flour, a little at a time, and cook, whisking constantly, until roux becomes smooth and thick. Continue to cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon and reaching all over bottom of pan, until roux darkens to the color of chocolate. The roux must remain an even color throughout process. If black flakes appear, you must start over.
3. When the roux is ready, add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the browned duck legs, sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves. Continue to cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the stock in a slow stream, whisking until incorporated.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Season the chicken with the Creole seasoning and add to the pot. Return the gumbo to a simmer and cook an additional 45 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley and green onions. Remove the bay leaves and serve in warmed bowls with steamed white rice. Pass hot sauce at the table, if desired.
Adapted from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.