Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gumbo - let the good times roll!

Ahh, no competition to get upset about, just the thought of a wonderfully gumbo'd up kitchen...

YES!  The good times rolled!  Oh, are we allowed to start with the Conclusion?

Although not quite the same scope in terms of days to make as our Cassoulet from a few months back it certainly was in terms of how full our pot became, how many dishes it took to make and how many left overs we got to enjoy.

Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Technically, we should change the name of this dish because in our haste to round up the sausage and duck fat from the place we were certain would have them we make a boo-boo.  We didn't read properly and didn't notice the error until we were well into the do-all-your-chopping-before-starting-the-roux-or-you'll-have-the-plague-come-down-upon-you stage.  Oh well, we are only a little bummed and totally ok with the result.  We missed the part about the 2 pounds of sausage being smoked and just grabbed up some normal everyday ready for the grill fun sausages.


Chicken & Mostly Un-Smoked Sausage Gumbo

All the other shopping was easy.  We thought our 'wrong' sausage store would be our best bet for finding Filé powder, but as it turned out it wasn't and we actually found it in our normal everyday store. We haven't really learned how to cut up a whole chicken properly so decided to get a tray of legs and a tray of thighs (which turned out to be 10 pieces) which then meant we didn't have any bits and pieces for making up the stock.  It seems less silly to use boxed stock than to get a chicken just to turn it into stock  - we will keep the recipe safe and sound and apply it to our left over turkey come Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We still had to use a third store to find Okra but we found it very easily in the fresh section.

We are already in possession of the spices required for the Basic Creole Spices so while one of us started the do-all-your-chopping-before-starting-the-roux-or-you'll-have-the-plague-come-down-upon-you the other took on the delicate task of measuring and mixing.  One of us thought this a less fair dispersing of duties so the spice creator also got to cut up the sausages (this is when the boo-boo dawned on us) after the seasoning was completed.

It's fun to watch the roux develop, but it's not fun to stand over the pot whisking away for about 20 minutes, plus another 10 once the onions join in.  We make risotto from time to time and spend almost twice as long at the pot stirring away, but this was so much heavier on the wrists - even as we tag teamed it.  Ok, enough whining...  but next time we'll give Alton's technique a go - we had seen that episode, but thought for the challenge we should put in the elbow (and wrist) grease.  Oh, and it's fun to get the smell of the duck fat while your arms contemplate falling off.

Time for the chicken.  Perhaps our pot was a too small, but we could barely get all the pieces in and with the roux being very 'friendly' towards the chicken we struggled to get the chicken into place to get it browned.  We let it go the suggested 10 minutes, but it was more not brown than brown.  We figured there would be no problem getting it cooked considering the time still to go.

Time for the do-all-your-chopping-before-starting-the-roux-or-you'll-have-the-plague-come-down-upon-you to join in the fun.  Then the stock.  Now we know out pot was not big enough as we couldn't get the advertised amount in.  Probably about 75% made it in.  Oh well.  At this stage we kind of thought we had a gumbo looking think on it's way.  Set the timer for 45 minutes and come visit every now and again for skimming and stirring.

The kitchen had really started to smell nice but unlike when we did the Cassoulet we didn't get the effect through the whole house.  Oh well.  We added in the last of the goodies and set the timer for another 45 minutes (which was conveniently about the time we needed for the rice).  We returned for more skimming (we skimmed a lot more this go around) and stirring.  As noted before, one of us is a bit of a baby when it comes to the hot / spicy end of the scale.  We went easy on the Tabasco and our smoked sausages were labled mild.

We have a bunch of different rices in the pantry, but no long-grain white.  We selected some Basmati and cooked it per instructions on the box but with the Louisiana recipe.  We know it didn't quite look the same as tradition suggests, but we're ok with making this substitution.  And next time we use it we'll probably use this recipe even for a non-gumbo application.


Yum!  Some would argue ours didn't have enough 'kick', but quite enough for the less hardy of us.  Some might also argue that Basmati Rice is not the way to go, but we think it did it's job admirably. 

We think it looked the way it should, it certainly was rich and hearty and tasty.  Yum!  The sauce had thickened up nicely and it was very very easy to go back for seconds.

We're not exactly sure what the Filé brought to the party?  Sprinkling to taste is a tough instruction when you don't know what the taste is...  We'll add it to the Spice Rack on the fridge and we'll pay a bit more attention when scouring our food magazines for a way to use it and maybe learn enough to understand when we could add it to something else.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



YES!  The good times rolled!  This is another one pot dish that could easily be brought out to impress friends!

We've gotten into the habit of searching our Wine Club collection for something that is suggested to match up with whatever this month's challenge is and we've had no reason to disagree with the suggestions.  This month our only Gumbo suggestion had been enjoyed previously as part of an earlier challenge, so we picked the one which suggested pairing with Cajun dishes.  It worked GREAT, and our left overs just weren't quite the same without it.

If you have leftovers (as most of us probably did!) don't just leave it in the pot, jam it in the fridge and bring it out for reheating.  We got a really good burn on the bottom that took about as much elbow grease as the roux.  We're pretty certain it all developed during the reheat and fortunately didn't notice anything bad because of it.


Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

andy responded:
Great post! Thanks for sharing.

blepharisma responded:
Good job! Sounds like your boo-boo wasn't too bad, after all... I think there is some flexibility in the ingredients (although I know many of us were just trying to get everything right, according to the base recipe).

Ruth H. responded:
What a complete write-up this was...! Fun to read, and kind of made me want to be in the kitchen with you...! I am glad that the gumbo was a success, and that you got to enjoy the process, sore wrists and elbows and all! Thanks for sharing your fun and creativity!

Faith responded:
I had the same problems with my pot and it was the biggest I had!!! I kept thinking to hell with it!!! That chicken will cook in the pot!!!
Well done and Im glad you enjoyed the challenge!

Audax Artifex responded:
WOW another successful challenge it sounds like you both had a great time with this gumbo. Glad to hear that the mild sausage worked out so well in the end. And yes the leftovers are marvellous reheated. Fabulous work.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Claire responded:
Great job on your gumbo, it sounds delicious! :)