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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicken Gumbo (Joy of Cooking)

This is the first recipe I used from the Joy of Cooking. After months of having it sitting in our living room, rather than looking on-line, I decided to actually try a recipe out of it. However, I have to say I was surprised, and not pleasantly. This does not mean that I will not try to make something out of it again, but I have plenty of recommendations. This recipe is a good starting point, but there are many ingredients I would add to it...primarily VEGETABLES!!! There are not enough, and those that are in it are definitely not large enough...they basically disintegrate into the stew. I will begin by giving the original recipe, but read to the bottom for how I would improve the dish. This time, it really wasn't for Matthew, as he is not the biggest fan of Gumbo; but with the right fixes, I will make it again.

Chicken Gumbo
In a large plastic bag, combine:

1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tssp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Add and shake until completely coated:

3 lbs. chicken parts ( I bought random cut up chicken parts. For this recipe, having bone-in chicken is best. The meat amount will be different for different parts of the chicken, so a selection of different peices works best.)

Add and shake again:

1/2 c. all purpose flour

Heat oil in a Dutch pot over medium heat. Hover your hand over the oil to make sure it is hot. You will feel the heat rising.

Brown the chicken on all sides. When you see a nice brown crust appearing, turn the chicken. You want this on all sides; if you can turn them on all 4 sides, this is best. It is easiest when the chicken is close together, so they can lean on each other when on sides that are difficult to stand on. It will take about 4 minutes for each side.

While you are doing this, combine the following:

1 c. sliced okra
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped green bell peppers

Remove the chicken to a platter, discard the remaining oil from the pan. Set the pan aside.

In a medium saucepan, pour in:

1/2 c. oil

Whisk in:

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Cook; stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It is very important you do not leave the roux. The roux should turn a dark mahogany brown, and can take up to 30 minutes. Mine took about 20; but it will be different, depending your stove (gas vs. electric; new vs. old; etc.).

Remove the roux from the heat and stir until it stops bubbling, approximately 1-2 minutes. Very carefully, add the roux and vegetable mixture into the Dutch oven. Whisk in:

6-8 c. stock or broth

Bring to a boil, whisking every few minutes. Reduce the heat and add the chicken. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30-45 minutes.Remove the chicken from the pot. Stir in the pot:

12 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, larger if you prefer (I used hot italiam sausage, as I could not find andouille sausage at my grocery store)

Simmer until the sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes. During this time, remove the chicken from the bone. The chicken pieces should not be more than 1/2" to 1" thick. Add the chicken to the pot.

NOTE: The recipe calls for file powder, which I have come to understand will thicken the gumbo. I couldn't find it, so I didn't use it, and it was still nice and thick.

Lastly, add:

1/2 c. chopped scallions
Hot Sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Serve over rice.

NOW FOR MY THOUGHTS
1) The vegetables you add should be doubled and very roughly chopped (this includes the okra, celery and pepper). Each piece should be approximately 1" thick. The onoins would be better cut in half and sliced thickly, rather tha chopped at all.

2) There is no reason you can't add more vegetables. In addition (or a replacement of), I would use a red pepper. Corn might be another idea...or even something leafy, like spinach. Zucchini? Maybe...it is really about what you like! Just make sure they are in 1/2" to 1" chunks. Otherwise, they will melt into the gumbo as it all cooks together.

3) I would add shrimp. Not a ton, but I definitely missed it.

That's really it. The flavor was definitely there, but it was just missing more chunkiness.

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