Monday, November 30, 2009

Cold Weather Comfort Food

December tomorrow! Already! Thanksgiving in the rear mirror - so the holidays are upon us. And the cold weather is here. Remember my mother always use to say, the first time the snow sticks on the street, whatever day of the month it is - that's how many snow storms we will have that season.

Here's a recipe that appeared in the Washington Post food section several weeks ago. It might make its way into the rotation. Perfect comfort food for the winter months. Perhaps the chicken could be replaced with some leftover turkey?

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This gumbo recipe doubles easily; the gumbo tastes better after a day's refrigeration. Feel free to use a food processor fitted with a shredding disk to chop the onions, bell pepper and celery; exact amounts aren't necessary.

Some folks toast the flour beforehand to a light brown in a dry skillet over medium heat or in a 350-degree oven to promote a darker roux. That step is not included here, but feel free to do so.

Serve over white rice.

MAKE AHEAD: The chicken seasoning mix recipe makes more than you need for this gumbo. It can be assembled and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months. The gumbo can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 6 months. It's best to freeze in individual portions, preferably with 1/2 cup or so of cooked rice placed in the container. 10 to 12 servings

For the chicken seasoning mix
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon file powder (ground sassafras)
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
For the gumbo
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 5 cups)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chicken seasoning mix (see recipe above)
  • 6 1/2 to 7 pounds bone-in and boneless chicken parts, preferably with no skin or most of the skin removed
  • 11 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 pound smoked cooked andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Crystal brand
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon file powder, plus more to taste
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and light-green parts, minced (3/4 cup)
  • Leaves from 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (3/4 cup), for garnish
For the chicken seasoning mix: Whisk together the salt, the black, white and cayenne peppers, the garlic and onion powders, ground bay leaves, file powder, dried basil and sweet paprika in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

For the gumbo: Heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir constantly to form a roux; make sure to keep it moving. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the roux becomes a dark reddish brown.

When the desired color is reached, add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic, stirring to coat. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium.

Use the 2 teaspoons of chicken seasoning mix to season the chicken pieces all over, then add half of them to the pot, moving the roux to the sides as needed. Cook for 5 minutes, until lightly browned, turning the pieces as needed. Transfer to a platter and add the remaining chicken; repeat the cooking process, then return all the chicken to the pot.

Add the broth, stirring until the roux is thoroughly incorporated. Add the sausage, bay leaf, dried basil, garlic and onion powders, the white, cayenne and black peppers, the hot pepper sauce and salt, stirring to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add the file powder, stirring to combine. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours; the gumbo will darken and thicken somewhat and the chicken will be falling off the bone. Discard the bay leaf and any bones that are free-floating or easy to pick out.

Uncover and add the scallions and parsley, stirring to combine. Cook uncovered for 7 minutes; taste and add file powder as needed. Divide among individual bowls; serve hot.

If storing, cool to room temperature and apportion with equal amounts of chicken in several containers with tight-fitting lids. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or add servings of cooked white rice to each container, leaving an inch of headspace, then seal and freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe Source: Adapted from "La Cuisine Cajun," by Jude Theriot (Pelican, 1986).


Lana Gramlich said...

It sn*wed here last night. It sn*wed & it stuck for an hour or so. It was horrible!

Brave Astronaut said...

Lana - you've gotten soft living there in the South. Snow ROCKS! I want more of it!