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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

If you're wondering what to do with your garden okra (or just like some Cajun cookin'), here is your recipe!  If I don't have enough okra to cook as a side dish for the whole fam, I slice it and throw into a freezer bag and keep adding as more okra comes in.  When I've got 1 1/2 cups, I make gumbo.  This is also a good way to use up leftover cooked chicken or turkey (hello Thanksgiving!).  You'll need about 2 cups cubed.

Like all stews, gumbo is gorgeous reheated.  Make it ahead for next-day service or freeze it in its fully-cooked form.  You can also make a freezer kit for the stew if you prefer.  You'll have to cook the roux before making the freezer kit, so give yourself plenty of time.

Here is the I Screw Up So You Don't Have To portion of the program...brown the meats in a skillet and make your roux in your soup pot (if you're making the soup start-to-finish, ignore this if you're making a freezer kit).  Or clean your soup pot really well after browning the sausage and chicken and before making the roux.  Any "browned bits" stuck to the pot after browning will act like a magnet for the roux and cause it to scorch.  Yuck.  Remaking a roux doesn't really cost much in terms of ingredients, but it does cost a good bit of time.

Making the characteristic Cajun "red" roux isn't much different than making a light roux for white sauce.  You just cook it longer.  But it is a bit like playing chicken...you want to cook it as dark as you can without burning it.  This is one time when stirring the pot CONSTANTLY really is necessary.  I turn off the heat when I achieve peanut-butter colored roux, though some recipes encourage an even darker color. 

Last note...the Cajun mirepoix or Trinity is onion, celery and green bell pepper.  I use carrot instead of celery here as I'm cooking around a food sensitivity, but feel free to use either.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Makes 4-6 servings

8 oz. fully cooked link sausage (kielbasa, andouille), 1/2" slices
8 oz. chicken breast, 1" chunks
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup flour
1 small onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups sliced okra, fresh or frozen
Filé powder (optional)
Rice or cornbread, file to serve

Roux/veggie mixture
Freezer kit directions:

Whisk oil and flour together in a medium pot.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and cook 5-15 minutes longer, until roux is peanut colored.  Add onion, celery/carrot, pepper and garlic and cook 3 minutes longer.  Add black pepper and cayenne.  Transfer to a freezer container for inclusion with remaining ingredients.  Freeze chicken and sausage in separate bags, roux/vegetable mixture with bay leaves, okra and chicken stock. 

To cook, thaw.  Brown sausage in a 3 quart pot over medium-high heat, until fat is rendered and lightly browned (about 5 minutes).  Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.  Add chicken to the same pot and brown (about 5 minutes).  Transfer to the bowl.  Add a little bit of water or stock to the pan, scraping up any browned bits and transfer that to the bowl. 

Add the roux/veggie/spice mixture and cook over medium heat until bubbly, just a few minutes.  Stir in chicken stock and water, incorporating slowly to avoid lumps.  Add the meats back to the pot, along with the okra.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.  Serve with rice or cornbread, and filé powder if desired.

Make-ahead directions:

Brown the sausage, then chicken, as above.  Add a bit of water or stock, scrape up browned bits, and add to the bowl with the chicken and sausage.  CLEAN OUT THE POT VERY WELL.

Proceed with the roux as above, then add the remaining ingredients.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool, then package in freezer containers in desired serving sizes to freeze. Pin It

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