Gumbo!

Ever since going to New Orleans this summer, we’ve talked about how we need to cook up a big pot of gumbo. Tonight was the night! We went with a full-on John Besh-athon. I’ve flipped through his beautiful, monster cookbook, My New Orleans, and was pleased to find it on Google Books! (I’m also linking to the recipe from elsewhere so it’s easier to read.)

Drew’s Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo (from My New Orleans, by John Besh)

Ingredients

For the Creole spices:

  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice

For the gumbo:

  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat or canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 large chicken, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Creole spices (above)
  • 2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked off
  • 3 quarts John Besh’s Chicken Stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 ounces Andouille sausage, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh okra
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Filé powder
  • Tabasco
  • 4–6 cups cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice

Directions

For the Creole spices:

Mix together the celery salt, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and allspice in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and store.

For the gumbo:

Make a roux by heating the chicken fat or oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil. It will immediately begin to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue whisking until the roux takes on a deep brown color, about 15 minutes. Add the onions, stirring them into the roux with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the roux is a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

Season the chicken with Creole spices. Add the chicken to the pot, raise heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the thyme, stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and skim off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

Add the Andouille, okra, and Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat off the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé at the table.

 

John Besh’s Chicken Stock (from My New Orleans, by John Besh)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound roasted chicken bones and carcass
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Directions

Heat the canola oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Cook the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and garlic, stirring often, until they are soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken bones and carcass, the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and 3 quarts water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface, until the stock has reduced by half, about 2 hours.
Strain through a fine sieve into a container with a cover. Allow the stock to cool, cover and refrigerate, then skim off the fat. Freeze the stock in small batches to use later.

 

Basic Louisiana White Rice (from My New Orleans, by John Besh)

Ingredients

Directions

Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and salt.

Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

 

First, a shot of the roux:

Don’t be fooled by the milk chocolate brown color. That is oil and flour. (And non-stop whisking. 15 minutes… and go.)

And now the whole shebang:

A couple notes: I ended up browning the chicken, taking it out, chopping it up, and returning it the the pot. (There didn’t seem to be enough room for everything with the chicken still on the bone. I also recommend doing this a couple pieces at a time, rather than cramming an entire chicken into the pot. Rookie error.) I used andouille sausage exclusively. And in our house, Crystal beats Tabasco. (Hard to find, but worth it.)

 

And for something green, our favorite: Braised Kale (but it was really rainbow chard).

Braised Kale (John Besh)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3 pounds kale, stems and inner ribs discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. In a very large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, then add the kale in large handfuls, letting it wilt slightly before adding more. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over moderate heat until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

 

Aw man, that was so good. It’s been a long time since we cooked a meat-heavy meal. (True, a few links of sausage have made the rare appearance, but we’ve been vegging out recently.)  This was totally worth the wait. We know what it means to miss New Orleans, but now we know we can cook some of it up right here in LA!

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