Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

So... I love making gumbo. Love it. I usually make a big batch and feed the neighborhood orphans (aka, my friends). But, in these trying economic times... sorry guys. So, in the spirit of *teach a man to fish,* here's how to do it yourself:

Whatcha need for about 5 qts. of gumbo:

1 large chicken

chicken stock

1 lb. andouille sausage

2 large onions, diced

2 red pepper

2 green pepper

4 stalks celery, chopped (optional... cuz I hate celery)

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

2 lb. okra, chopped in rounds

3 bay leaves (again optional... I don't normally use it)

salt, garlic powder, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, file

3/4 c. flour

3/4 c. canola oil (or veg oil)

1/4 c. butter

Whatcha do:

First thing's first. Boil your chicken. Rinse the chicken, then put it in the pot. Fill the water up to top the bird, throw it on the stove and boil it. Well, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat so it simmers pretty hard. Can't rightly say how long... an hour? Hour and a half? Basically, you wanna cook the thing til the legs easily pull off. Take the chicken out and put it in the fridge to cool. Strain the juice into a container (to get the lil bits out), and set aside. You're gunna be using this lovely stock in the gumbo.

While the chicken's cooling, it's time to make your roux. It's up to you to decide how lazy you are and how much flavor you want in your gumbo. The roux decides all of that. Put your oil in the pot and return the pot to a medium fire. After the oil gets hot enough, put the butter in and melt it down. Once melted and stirred together, add the flour, in parts, and start stirring. Keep on stirring at all times, not letting any of the roux sit too long. Basically, you're cooking the flour. The longer you cook, the darker it gets. The darker it gets, the more flavor you get. I say give yourself at least 45 minutes or medium heat slow cooking.

If you have talent, and can do two things at once, while you're doing the roux can also be a good time to saute your okra. A lot of people don't like okra gumbo cuz they're either stupid or crazy. Crazy, cuz it's not truly gumbo without okra; stupid because they don't know how to properly prepare okra to avoid the sliminess, which is basically why they don't like okra in their gumbo. If you saute the okra on a medium-high heat in some oil, the okra *slime* will fry up and brown the okra in a nice crunchy way. Just make sure you don't stop focusing on keeping your roux moving.

After the roux's come to the color you want, throw in the onion, peppers and garlic, and start sauteing them. You can throw celery in there too, if you want. I personally can't stand celery (especially cooked), so I normally don't include it. But there you go. Anyso, saute all these together in the roux til they're soft. Then throw in your okra. Mix all that around. Start adding the chicken stock. I say at least 2 quarts (8 cups), to start. But, as usual, I can't really say how much to measure it. Add you spices: salt, white and black peppers, cayenne, garlic powder and bay leaves. I like to also add the file during the cooking, but some people argue that it's suppose to be at the serving time. Feh. As always with me, put a few dashes (a couple dashes of the cayenne) and see how it tastes. As it cooks, the flavors will come out more, so you can add more as you need.

Bring this to a boil, cover and simmer for about two hours. You may need to add more stock as it cooks down.

While that's cooking, get your chicken out and start pulling and breaking up the meat into chunks. As for the andouille, you have two types: the processed kind you can find in the grocery store, or the real deal smoked andouille, that you really can only get in Louisiana. (I don't care what other people say. Jacob's in La Place is the best - Cut em into rounds, halves or quarters. I prefer the quartered so they're bite size and more to go around... but that's just me.

After you've let the gumbo cook for a bit, add your chicken and andouille. Let that cook for another 30 minutes or so. Now... you can either make yourself some rice, and bowl up or you can wait til the next day. I prefer letting it cool and sit over night. Chow down with some nice French bread, and have the file and the hot sauce waiting.

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