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Oh MeOhMyOh....it's GUMBO 101!

  SOHEILA's QUICK & EASY CHICKEN & SAUSAGE GUMBO  with "OVERNIGHT" Basmati Rice

SOHEILA's QUICK & EASY CHICKEN & SAUSAGE GUMBO with "OVERNIGHT" Basmati Rice

  KIDDOCJJ's CHICKEN & ANDOUILLE GUMBO  with traditional  ROUX

KIDDOCJJ's CHICKEN & ANDOUILLE GUMBO with traditional ROUX

 
 
  KIDDOCJJ's BAYOU GATOR BREAD  - perfect with your GUMBO!

KIDDOCJJ's BAYOU GATOR BREAD - perfect with your GUMBO!

Gumbo, like many regional dishes, is thought to reflect the melting-pot nature of Louisiana cooking, but its origins are a source of debate. The name GUMBO derives from a West African word for okra, suggesting that the original form of this stew contained just that.  Culturally Louisiana is a stand-alone in the US - nowhere else in the States can you find so many regional languages, each with their own idiom and accent, Caribbean and African folklore, traditions based on geography (all graves above ground), and mysticism.  Combine all that with the culinary influences, and its no wonder there are many versions of gumbo to be had.  I like to think this stew was made with what grew and could be gotten locally - so in the forests and flatlands (home of the Cajuns - who emigrated from the North), the style of gumbo was more rustic and included andouille sausage, game, and was thickened with sassafras/file and flavored with a dark roux. Nearer to the  water (where the Creoles settled after sailing from France and Spain), more shellfish, oysters, alligator and turtle showed up, and Creole gumbo was thickened with okra, and flavored with a lighter version of roux. 

People often ask what distinguishes a gumbo from jambalaya, as they share so many ingredients.  The simple answer - gumbo is a wet stew, served over rice and jambalaya is a dry stew, cooked with rice, much like a paella.

The base of any good gumbo, as those in New Orleans will insist, is a ROUX - the classic mixture of fat and flour that imparts flavor, color and thickening to most gumbos.  Other thickeners are used alone or in combination in gumbos, whether it's okra or Gumbo File (ground up sassafras - with the distinctive aroma of root beer).  

The next thing that MUST be included in every gumbo is the "TRINITY."  Unlike the French who use mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery)  as the base of their sauces, the Trinity is comprised of onions, celery and green bell pepper.  This trio forms the backbone of flavor of every single creole and cajun dish and sauce.  When garlic is added, it's called the "HOLY TRINITY!"

SHHHHH.....here's a little secret about Soheila's gumbo (pictured above).  She uses one of the many Instant Roux mixes you can find in all the local markets (she uses Tony Chachere's Creole Instant Roux).  She swears it saves her time and cuts the fat.  But I think the meditative and wonderful part of making gumbo is doing it old school, with a real roux.  She insists on using basmati rice rather than the traditional short grain rice that is called for in all the recipes.  She rinses and soaks the rice overnight in water, drains it, and cooks it low and slow in the rice cooker. This way the grains of rice grow extra long with the soaking and taste lovely. I think you can just use the rice you love, and it's all going to taste great! And lastly, she preps her trinity in large quantities, portions out 3 cups into a freezer bag and freezes it for a spontaneous gumbo party.

So let's get cooking!  This is food for a crowd (feeds 8) and you can stretch it further if more guests arrive by adding more stock, and being more generous with your rice.  Serve with a variety of hot sauces like Crystal or Tabasco, lemon slices, cilantro, green onions, parsley and some ice cold beer.  This is a year round dish, sure to please, make-ahead, and bound to be a favorite!

CHICKEN AND ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE GUMBO

  WHAT YOU NEED   -  sharp knife  -  large stock pot  -  large frying pan   INGREDIENTS   -  1 pound (approx 6 pieces) skinless boneless chicken thighs  -  12 oz pkg Andouille or Smoked Sausage  -  4 large cloves garlic (about 2 TB)         

WHAT YOU NEED

-  sharp knife

-  large stock pot

-  large frying pan

INGREDIENTS

-  1 pound (approx 6 pieces) skinless boneless chicken thighs

-  12 oz pkg Andouille or Smoked Sausage

-  4 large cloves garlic (about 2 TB)

 

 

 

 -  3 ribs celery (approx 1 cup chopped)  -  1 large onion (approx 1 1/2 cup chopped)  -  1 large green bell pepper   -  3 quarts chicken stock  -   1 cup dark roux   -  3 roma tomatoes, chopped  -  2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cajun seasoning (I used "Slap Yo Mama"), 2 bay leaves  -  lemons, hot sauce, parsley, cilantro and green onions for toppings      

-  3 ribs celery (approx 1 cup chopped)

-  1 large onion (approx 1 1/2 cup chopped)

-  1 large green bell pepper 

-  3 quarts chicken stock

1 cup dark roux

-  3 roma tomatoes, chopped

-  2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cajun seasoning (I used "Slap Yo Mama"), 2 bay leaves

-  lemons, hot sauce, parsley, cilantro and green onions for toppings

 

 

  INSTRUCTIONS:   1.  First, prepare your holy trinity by chopping the onion, celery and bell pepper into equal sized pieces.  2.  Peel and mince garlic finely.                        

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  First, prepare your holy trinity by chopping the onion, celery and bell pepper into equal sized pieces.

2.  Peel and mince garlic finely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3.  Cut the sausages in half length-wise and then chop into half moons.  4. Saute in a hot pan until browned on the edges, and some fat has been released into the pan.  5.  Transfer the sausage to your a large bowl and leave about a TB of the fat in the pan.

3.  Cut the sausages in half length-wise and then chop into half moons.

4. Saute in a hot pan until browned on the edges, and some fat has been released into the pan.

5.  Transfer the sausage to your a large bowl and leave about a TB of the fat in the pan.

 6.  Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and fry in the pan until brown on both sides.  Don't worry about cooking them through - the gumbo pot will do that!  7.  Cut into small chunks and add to the sausage.               

6.  Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and fry in the pan until brown on both sides.  Don't worry about cooking them through - the gumbo pot will do that!

7.  Cut into small chunks and add to the sausage.

 

 

 

 

 

 6.  Saute your holy trinity in that same pan until the onions are translucent.  Transfer contents to the stockpot and add the cooked roux.  7.  Gently stir together until vegetables are coated and roux smells rich and nutty.               

6.  Saute your holy trinity in that same pan until the onions are translucent.  Transfer contents to the stockpot and add the cooked roux.

7.  Gently stir together until vegetables are coated and roux smells rich and nutty.

 

 

 

 

 

 8.  Sprinkle with the cayenne, cajun seasoning, and thyme, and drop in the bay leaves.  Stir briefly until fragrant.                     

8.  Sprinkle with the cayenne, cajun seasoning, and thyme, and drop in the bay leaves.  Stir briefly until fragrant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 9.  Add the chopped tomatoes and then the stock, stirring constantly so that the roux is dissolved.   10.  Drop in the chicken and the sausage and simmer about 35-45 minutes on low so flavors can marry.   11.  Add the File Powder, add the cover and let sit off the heat, for 10 minutes.

9.  Add the chopped tomatoes and then the stock, stirring constantly so that the roux is dissolved. 

10.  Drop in the chicken and the sausage and simmer about 35-45 minutes on low so flavors can marry. 

11.  Add the File Powder, add the cover and let sit off the heat, for 10 minutes.