Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gumbo, Y'all

Sorry fellow bloggospherics. I have been blog blocked this week by a combination of election day jitters, election eve elation, and the fact that at times, loading photos onto blogger mostly consists of a lot of sitting around watching the in progress icon circling....and....circling.......and circling some more at about which point I say something less than repeatable or blogworthy and walk away.

However, I finally got the rest of the photos on this post from way back when so here, as was promised forever ago if anybody still cares, is THE GUMBO POST.
It is Fall here according to the calendar.

If you go by the temperatures, however, we are experiencing a bit of a warm wave.  Afternoon highs in the mid 80s for several days running in combination with sunny skies are making for a less than autumnal vibe.

Despite this I am craving cool weather foods. I am currently in the process of making one of my favorites.  Gumbo.

I adapted this recipe from Joy of Cooking, one of the few cookbooks I have held on to and referred back to despite the ease of online recipe searches.  One of my largest tweaks to their recipe was to use boneless skinless chicken breasts - poached and shredded - rather than an cooking an entire chicken as called for. Allow me to explain.

The tweaks evolved for three reasons.  When I first began making this I was working full time in an office, had two kids at home and an elderly parent all depending on me for transportation, emotional and logistical support. I felt rushed pretty much all the time.

Second, I was cooking for a family who were each picky eaters in their own way.  One didn't like bell peppers.  Another didn't like dark meat.  A third is not a casserole fan.  You get the idea.

Finally, I was beginning to understand how unhealthy the CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) system was, and the one reliable source of responsible local protein I could get at a moment's notice was Buddy's organic boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Whole chickens showed up rarely but the boneless skinless breasts were almost always around.  

So I adapted the recipe from this:
Chicken Gumbo
½ c. chopped celery
½ c. chopped onions
½ c. chopped green pepper
2 t. ground red pepper
1½ t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 t. garlic powder
1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
½ c. flour
2-4 T. oil
½ c. oil
½ c. flour
12 ox. andouille sausage
1 T. chopped garic
½ c. chopped scallions
8 c. chicken stock

Combine celery, onion and pepper in small bowl and reserve. Combine next 4 ingredients in plastic bag, add chicken pieces and shake. Add ½ c. flour and shake again. Heat 2-4 T. oil in skillet; add chicken pieces and brown 5-10 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Add ½ c. oil to pan, scraping up browned bits. Whisk in ½ c. flour. Cook, stirring often, 5-6 minutes until roux turns reddish brown. Remove from heat, add reserved vegetables and stir 1-2 minutes. Add roux to soup pot. Whisk in chicken stock. Add chicken and cook 30-45 minutes. Remove chicken from pot, discard skin and bones, shred meat and reserve. Stir in sausage and garlic. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in reserved chicken meat with remaining ingredients.

To this:
Chicken/Sausage/Seafood Gumbo

2/3 c. chopped celery
2/3 c. chopped onions

2 t. ground red pepper (I use half paprika/half commercial chile powder)
1/2 t. salt
1 T. black pepper
1 t. garlic powder
cayenne pepper to taste
2-3 T. flour

2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, poached, cooled, shredded

½ c. oil
½ c. flour

8 c. chicken stock

8-12 oz. andouille sausage casing off/crumbled
8-12 oz. chorizo rough chopped

6-8 shrimp, shelled and cut into 3 pieces each
6 oz fish fillet rough chopped
1 T. chopped garlic

3 cups cooked rice
½ c. chopped scallions

Combine celery, and onion in small bowl and reserve.

Combine next 5 ingredients in plastic bag, add shredded chicken meat and shake.Add ½ c. oil to stock pot. Whisk in ½ c. flour. Cook, stirring often, 5-6 minutes until roux turns reddish brown.Remove from heat, immediately add onion/celery, stirring constantly 1-2 minutes until bubbling subsides. Put stock pot back on stove.

Whisk in chicken stock. When this reaches a low boil add floured/seasoned chicken meat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in sausage and garlic. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in fish or shrimp and simmer 10 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Yield: 6 generous portions

Serve in bowls over cooked rice, garnished with scallions. Have Tabasco at the table.

This time I am taking advantage of the presence of a leftover roast chicken carcass to make some of the broth from scratch.I reserved the water I poached the chicken breast in and added in the chicken carcass after pounding it with a meat cleaver and then teasing it into even smaller pieces once it had simmered for a while.The carcass is a holdover from a chicken I roasted earlier.  Hub and I have had two meals off this chicken already, and the gumbo, though it does call for the addition of other elements, will stretch it even further.  Gotta love that - using up every bit of the chicken.  It is economical and it honors the bird to use it up so thoroughly.

Simmering the chicken carcass, shredding the usable meat off and straining out the bones, skin and gristly bits, are all steps that will add a lot of wonderful flavor to an already delicious gumbo recipe. Those steps also represent precisely the time consuming parts of the recipe I had eliminated in my earlier tweaks in order to streamline the process.

Another side effect of my earlier revisions was that there were built in breaks where my attention was not needed on the gumbo. That allowed me to do other small Wife/Mommy/Daughter bits along the way. A little later I plan to stop and raise a toast to my more liberated life now. It does no good to have time to call my own if I don't savor it. Yeah? Yeah.

This gumbo is a fabulous way to use up leftover bits of fish, shrimp and chicken. I substitute in whatever protein(s) I have on hand routinely. This time besides the leftover roasted chicken, I will throw in a leftover cod fillet a couple of minutes before serving (it is already cooked).

The gumbo always tastes great. Like so many other comfort foods, it tastes even better when reheated the next day. I am sure it would freeze well but never have any around long enough to find out. One caveat - when reheating leftovers, we have found we like it best adding the rice to the bowl just before serving rather than putting the rice in with gumbo to reheat. Also - due to the thickness of this you will want to use a longer bit of gentle heating to bring it up to temperature to avoid having any scorch to the bottom of your pan.

We like this served with a good chewy sourdough bread and a crisp green salad. I think a glass of Portugeuse Vinho Verde would go well with it or any one of the fabulous autumn Ales currently on sale.

If you haven't tried gumbo this is a great entry point recipe. There are all sorts of more sophisticated versions out there to try featuring exotic ingredients with price tags to match. We just really REALLY like it this way, and have found it to be a great budget stretcher. Hope you will give it a try and let me know how it turns out.
Has this ever happened to you? Bloggers Block? Most of y'all post pretty regularly and kudos for that. I am optimistic that all the election antsy-ness will subside and I will be back with more regular bits, post-haste.


Flapjacks said...

wow. that is way easier than the gumbo i make. a 6 minute roux? cra-ha-zy!

on bloggers block. lately, i've notice that my blog has shifted it's tone from food porn to the actual coverage of my life and times. who cares about all that stuff?


however, it is still mostly a food oriented blog, and i do feel that it's supposed to be all over the place. i also have a back log of blog topics. like the beer tasting we had a week and a half ago that just hasn't been written? and what ever happened to my garden? right? i mean.

PassivePastry said...

I got blog blocked when i first started mine and thought it might've been because i said "damn"

guess not.

i also have strayed from bloglings that have at least soooomething to do with foods.
but the way i see it flapjack boy, life posts are food for the eyes. i eat 'em up anyways, reading about others lives. yum yum life.

i'd like to eat a big bowl of life right now.

my brother sent me a recipe for turkey bone gumbo- it uses leftover thanksgiving turkey carcasses and oysters. looks like something i would try if i had proper pots and carcasses lying around.

TexasDeb said...

Carcasses make for good stock no question. They are a bit, well, anatomical though, you know? As to proper pans, shhhhh, I will share a secret with you.

You can get all sorts of proper pans at Goodwill for like 7 bucks. You just have to be patient and go regularly and you can generally find a lot of abandoned cookware on the cheap.

I have split my posts out into 3 different blogs - one is gardening, one is lifey/activism stuff and one is nearly only food/eating/drinking related.

I keep wondering if I should just fold them all together. Like LandTimes.

Interestingly, the blog my friends who will admit to reading my blogs like the best is the foody one. Although my daughter (who better remember my birthday) likes it when I go off on a rant on any of my blogs.

And Flapper I will second PPastry on the landt stuff. If it is honest and your life and we like you then we will like reading about your life. Sez me.

PassivePastry said...

Unfortunately, it's space I have an issue with.
I was told about the goodwill pan shopping and will def have to check it out.
But my itsy bitsy apartment has little room for large pots and such. I even turned down my mom's Kitchenaid stand mixer when she got a new one...
Poor, poor college living. :)