Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Chicken and Andouille Fil'e Gumbo

     Down Home Louisiana Cookin'! 
     Andouille Sausage and chicken is a great combination for a traditional Gumbo.  Andouille is added to nearly every Gumbo to increase flavor, but when the name of this spicy smoked sausage is in the recipe title, it is guaranteed that there will be plenty of Andouille in each bowl!
     There is so much great flavor in a Cajun Fil'e Gumbo that this Louisiana specialty never fails to intrigue guests.  The selection of herbs and spices is complex.  Native American, African and French ingredients combine to create a flavor that is like nothing else.  The cooking techniques have their roots in French cuisine from a few hundred years ago, when the Acadians settled in the new world.  Gumbo truly is a recipe that was borne from adaptation.    
     Some people simply cannot get enough cayenne pepper in their Gumbo.  Spicy hot Gumbo has its moments, but not everybody can take the heat.  The amount of cayenne pepper in a Gumbo recipe can be adjusted to suit guests, if "spicy hot" is an issue.  If a particular guest likes it spicy hot, then serve the Gumbo up with a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce on the side!  
     The secret to a good gumbo is the roux.  Roux adds body and flavor.  The roux should only thicken the Gumbo to a thin consistency and the broth should not look like thick gravy.  As mentioned before, Cajun cuisine is based upon French cooking that dates back about 400 years, so roux application rules are a bit different than modern standards.  For Cajun cuisine, the roux rules basically go like this:
     • For light color meat (fish, shellfish, gator, frog legs or chicken) ...  The roux is brown, dark brown or black.
     • For tan color meat (duck, pork, wild boar or small wild game) ... The roux is red or reddish brown.
     • For dark color meat, (beef, lamb or large wild game) ... The roux is a white or blonde.
     • Roux can be made with butter, lard, rendered fat or vegetable oil.  Butter is by far the most popular choice, because it creates a noisette flavor when the roux is cooked.    
     Today's Chicken and Andouille Fil'e Gumbo requires a brown roux.  When making brown roux, wear a long sleeve shirt and protective gloves.  The hot butter and flower roux can cause serious burns, even from a small splatter.
     You cannot stop stirring a dark roux once you start making it, or the roux will burn.  Be sure to prepare all the ingredients ahead of time before starting to cook the roux, because the diced vegetables will be added when the roux reaches a brown color, so the roux is instantly cooled before it gets any darker.

     Chicken and Andouille Gumbo:
     This recipe yields about 5 cups.  (2 hearty portions)  
     Gumbo takes about 2 hours to make and the ingredients are added in stages.  There is plenty of simmering time involved in the last stage of the recipe.  
     *Be sure to cook 2 portions of Plain Long Grain White Rice about 20 minutes before the gumbo is finished.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of small diced celery in a bowl.
     Add 1 cup of small diced onion.
     Add 1/2 cup of small diced mixed green and red bell pepper.  (This vegetable mixture is what Cajun cooks call the Trinity.  The proportion is 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part bell pepper.)
     Step 2:  Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced seeded green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Set the vegetable aside.
     Step 3:  Place a tall pot (or large sauce pot) over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk.
     *The exact amount of flour is always a judgement call.  The roux should look shiny, not dull.  The texture should be smooth like warm peanut butter and it should not be caky.
     Constantly stir the roux till it becomes a brown color.
     Step 4:  As soon as the roux turns brown, immediately add the reserved chopped vegetable mixture.
     *The roux will stop cooking and the vegetables will instantly be cooked, because of the high temperature of the roux.  Be careful, because the heat will produce plenty of steam!
     Stir the vegetables and roux together.
     Step 5:  Add 8 ounces of large diced boneless raw chicken.
     Add 8 ounces of 1/4" thick sliced Andouille Sausage.
     Add 1/2 cup of diced tomato.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 6:  Add 5 1/2 cups of chicken stock while stirring.
     Stir till the roux combines.
     *The gumbo will have a thin watery texture at this point.  
     Step 7:  Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 8:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Add 1 1/4 cups of thick sliced okra.  (Okra translates gumbo in African language.)
     Bring the gumbo back to a boil.
     Step 9:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Gently simmer the gumbo for about 90 minutes.  Stir the gumbo occasionally.
     Allow the gumbo to simmer and reduce, till the broth is a thin consistency that has a little bit of body.  
     *The proportion of meat and vegetables should be high after the broth reduces.  Add a splash of chicken stock, if the gumbo becomes too thick while simmering.  The finished volume should be about 5 cups.  
     Step 10:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the gumbo warm.
     Step 11:  Just before serving, add 1 teaspoon of Fil'e Powder while stirring.
     *Fil'e powder is fine ground Sassafras Leaves.  The Fil'e Powder will thicken the Gumbo as well as add flavor.

     This recipe describes 1 portion.
     Use a ring mold to place 1/2 cup of cooked plain white long grain rice in a large soup bowl.
     Remove the bay leaf from the gumbo.
     Ladle about 2 1/3 cups of the Chicken and Andouille Fil'e Gumbo into the bowl around the rice.
     Garnish the gumbo with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Chicken and Andouille Fil'e Gumbo certainly is satisfying, especially on a chilly day!

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