I prepare chicken and sausage gumbo every fourth Tuesday at work. Most of the residents enjoy it. And a couple staff always ask for the leftovers on Wednesday morning!
When I began working at the recovery home two years ago, I struggled with the stew. The roux gave me fits. I gave up after four or five months. For the next year, I used a packaged gumbo mix to flavor the pot. Though the residents still enjoyed the dinner, I wanted to give it another try.
My motivation came last spring when I found a copy of Authentic Cajun Cooking, by Chef Paul Prudhomme, at a thrift store in Placerville. Known for "propell(ing) the distinctive cuisine of his native Louisiana into the international spotlight," Chef Paul's gumbo recipes captivated my interest. The makers of Tabasco hot sauce published the booklet around 1982.
I focused on the roux since I was satisfied the rest of the recipe. For the several months I browned the roux in about 10 minutes. While this saved time in the kitchen, I was not happy with the flavor the roux gave the gumbo. I slowly realized the only way to create the best roux was to slow the process down.
I now heat the oil for the roux over high heat, then quickly whisk the flour. I immediately turn the heat down to medium. I find that I need to start incrementally turning the heat down after about 10 minutes. It takes at least 30 minutes to produce a roux with a deep reddish-brown color. To avoid burning the roux, even slightly, I'm constantly stirring the roux. Your whole focus should be the roux.
CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE GUMBO
I have tailored this recipe to satisfy the tastes of the residents at work. While I usually use a mild Polish sausage for the gumbo, andouille is the best for the stew.
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large onion, diced
1/2 bunch celery, diced
3 large green bell pepper, diced
3 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons filé powder
2 pounds frozen okra
4 pounds diced cooked chicken
2 pounds sausage, diced
Heat oil in a heavy skillet until hot. Gradually stir in flour. Immediately turn heat down to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until roux is dark reddish-brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Slowly reduce heat under skillet as the roux browns.
After the roux has brown to desired color, add trinity (onion, celery and bell pepper) and stir to combine. Continue cooking until trinity softens. Set aside.
Heat chicken stock in a 12- to 15-quart stockpot to a boil. Add black and white peppers, garlic, cayenne, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves and filé powder and stir.
Slowly add roux-trinity mixture to stock, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, uncovered.
Add okra, chicken and sausage and simmer until chicken is done. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
To serve, place a mound of white rice in the center of a large bowl. Ladle 8 ounces of gumbo around the rice. Serve immediately. Serves 25 (8-ounce) portions. Yield: 6-1/2 quarts.
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