Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

"A loving heart is the truest wisdom"
Charles Dickens
Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Cook's notes:Try a taste of the South with Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It is worthy of a special occasion like New Years Eve. For easier prep dice celery, garlic, peppers and onion the day before and refrigerate. 
Anyone who is from the South knows that Gumbo is cooked with instinct and heart. It is a dish you are taught not something you need to follow with a recipe. But since I am from the Midwest I needed a recipe. I found one that is the perfect blend of savory meat in a Cajun- spiced broth. The success of the dish is the gumbo base a.k.a. as roux made with oil and flour cooked to a dark brown color. I added some cooked shrimp to the broth the last 10 minutes of cooking time. 
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage (pre-cooked) such as andouille or kielbasa, cut in half horizontally, then crosswise 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • chicken thighs or 4 large chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 1 TB. Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil+2 TB. oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 can (14.5) chunky tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika 
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8-9 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth, heated
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, topping
  • Hot brown or white rice for serving
  • optional hot sauce and cooked shrimp
  • In a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 TB. of oil on the stove. Cook sausage over medium-high heat until well browned, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove sausage and drain on paper towels.
  • In a bag add 1 TB. Cajun seasoning and chicken. Shake to coat pieces. 
  • In Dutch oven place add 1 TB, oil and seasoned chicken. Sear meat on medium high heat 4 minutes a side, drain chicken on paper towels, set aside. (Do not attempt to remove drippings or clean pan at this point.)  
  • Combine 1/2 cup oil and the flour in the same Dutch oven over medium heat. If the roux looks too loose, add 1 tablespoon flour.
  • Stirring constantly with a whisk over medium-high heat, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate, 10 minutes. The time will depend on the thickness of the pot and the heat under it. Cooking it more slowly over medium heat will take 20-30 minutes.
  • Add the onions, celery, minced garlic, bell peppers and cook, stirring, until wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the reserved sausage, chicken, salt, cayenne, smoked paprika, and bay leaves. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. While stirring, slowly add the warmed chicken stock, and cook, stirring, until well combined. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. 
  • Add in chunky tomatoes, simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove chicken from the gumbo and place on a cutting board to cool slightly. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Pull the chicken meat from the bones and shred, discarding the bones, skin and any fatty bits. Return the meat to the gumbo. Heat 15 minutes. Stir in the green onions and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Spoon rice into the bottom of deep bowls and ladle the gumbo on top. Pass hot sauce.

The holy trinity, Cajun holy trinity, or holy trinity of Cajun or Louisiana Creole cooking is the use of onions, celery, bell peppers in roughly equal quantities. This mirepoix is the base for much of the cooking in the regional cuisines of Louisiana.

Some variations include the use of garlic, parsley or shallots for onions. The preparation of Cajun/Creole dishes such as gumbo and jambalaya all start from this base.
FYI: Mirepoix means a mixture of chopped celery, onions, and carrots. There are many variants, which may include just one of these ingredients, or include additional aromatics

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