Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book club main dish: Gumbo

Our hosts elected to make the Gumbo. Little did I or they know just what that will entail. Not only does it include a ton of spices (enough to clean out anyone's rack) including one that is apparently impossible to find in this country, it requires a chocolate roux as a base. Unlike the blond roux of past recipes (here and here), a chocolate roux can take upwards of 45 min constantly stirring, not a mere 20—25 min like the recipe states.



1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 pound smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound boneless chicken meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp Rustic rub, recipe follows
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp file powder*
Rustic rub:
8 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp cayenne
5 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp onion powder
6 tbsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container.

Combine the oil and flour in a large cast iron or enameled cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 min, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4 to 5 min, or until wilted. Add the sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 min. Add the chicken broth. Stir until the roux mixture and water are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Season the chicken with the rub and add to the pot. Simmer for 2 hours. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, green onions, and file powder. Remove the bay leaves and serve in deep bowls.

*Not available in Canada (and apparently there is no substitute).

The dish was fantastic, even in the absence of file powder. Still, I'll be sure not to ask for too many more favors from these people until this has blown over.




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