Monday, November 21, 2011

Gumbo Season

When football season arrives and the weather starts to turn cool, I immediately begin to crave gumbo. I like to make my first batch in September and by the time its truly cold outside, my roux making skills have been fully restored. The interesting thing about gumbo is that everyone makes it differently, very much like spaghetti or chili. Everyone has their preferences and their family traditions that are very special and personal to them. My favorite is chicken and sausage gumbo and I like it SPICY!!!! I also like it the true Cajun way with a little potato salad in it. I know, I know, sounds crazy but don't mock it 'til you try it! I've made believers out of many and my goal is to make believers out of you today!

Gumbo is the traditional Christmas Eve meal at my parent's house, and my sister and I really look forward to it every year. Our parent's have talked about changing the menu a couple times and realized that it just wasn't an option without starting a household debate. What can I say aside from the fact that I'm just too much of a creature of habit, and food sparks warm happy memories for me. So give this a try soon (it makes a great Sunday football meal), and maybe you will have it perfected in time for Christmas Eve too!!!!

Mom and Dad's Gumbo recipe (enhanced by me cause I never follow directions closely):

1 large onion, chopped
1 onion whole, for stock
2 stalks celery chopped
3 stalks celery, with leaves for stock
1 bell pepper chopped
4+ garlic cloves (you can never have enough garlic!)
1 jalapeno or habanero depending on your spice preference
4 quarts chicken stock (instructions on making your own below)
1 large chicken or turkey
1.5 lbs of sausage
1-2 bay leaves
hot sauce to taste
gumbo file to taste
2 cups flour
1 cup olive oil

Boil chicken or turkey in water with 1 whole onion and celery stalks (onion with skins, and celery with leaves for color). Add salt and pepper, and thyme (I also recommend trying Morton's Nature's Seasoning which has onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, etc). Boil for 1 hour, then strain, reserve stock, de-bone chicken, and set aside.

In a clean dry pot make your roux. Put flour in pot and turn heat on medium-high. Brown flour, stirring continuously until flour is dark brown. Turn down heat if necessary, do NOT burn! Add oil to flour and stir, should be a chocolaty color. Add in chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute until soft.

Add 4 quarts of reserved stock and bay leaves, then stir. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add sausage and chicken and simmer for 15-20 minutes longer. Add seasoning, hot sauce, and gumbo file to taste. Serve over rice and with a dollop of potato salad if you are adventurous!

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