Monday, August 15, 2011

New Orleans in Nashville

This is NOT a recipe blog.  I feel like I have to say that up front.  I don't want you getting confused when you read what I'm about to post below this.  No, it's definitely not a recipe blog.  I'm not going to be working my way through a Julia cookbook.  I'm not going to discuss my favorite Food Network stars.  I'm not going to post a new, delicious ten-step meal every single day.  This is NOT a... ok, you get it.

That being said.

Last night, the wife and I had a houseload of people over.  I needed something delicious and amazing to serve to a large crowd.  Something not too difficult but with a little more pizzazz than a pot of chili.

Enter Gumbo, Stage Left

My mom's family is from Louisiana, and as I was slogging through the dusty corners of my hard drive, I discovered this recipe for authentic Louisiana gumbo.  It was incomplete, and I had to flesh out a few areas, perform a little roux research, and figure out how to fill in a couple of gaps.

The result, however, was incredible.  It was pass-on-worthy.  So, here it is.  Perkins Family Gumbo.

Perkins Gumbo (Version 2011)

• 3 large chicken breasts
• Salt and pepper
• 1/4 cup oil
• 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
• 1/2 cup flour
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 8 cloves minced garlic
• 1 bell pepper, chopped
• 1.5 cups chopped celery
• 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
• Tobasco (to taste)
• 1 handful of chopped parsley
• 6 cups hot water
• 5 cubes chicken builion
• 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 regular cans stewed tomatoes
• 1 pound sliced okra (frozen works great)
• ½ cup chopped green onions
• 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and devained
Here's Whatcha Do:
1. Rub the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven (it HAS to be a Dutch Oven.  Any other pan will be TOO THIN) on Medium heat.  Brown the chicken.  Brown the sausage.  Remove the meat and set it aside.  Sprinkle the flour over the oil and drippings in the pan and add two tablespoons butter.
2. Now, get comfortable.  You're gonna be here awhile.  Turn your heat LOW and keep stirring that flour/oil mixture.  Don't stop.  For twenty minutes.  It will SLOWLY darken.  You want it to be the color of dark chocolate.  This is your roux.  If you burn it, you're done.  Go to McDonald's.
3. When the roux is dark enough, turn the heat up to Medium and add the Holy Trinity (celery, onion, bell pepper), the remaining two tablespoons of butter, and the garlic.  Cook it down for 10 minutes. 
4. Add the Worcestershire sauce.  Practice saying "Worcestershire."  Add the hot sauce, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Throw in the parsley.  Cook for another five minutes.
5. Now, if you try to put the meat back into the pot along with six cups of hot water, you are going to make a mess.  I transfer the veggies and roux into a stock pot at this point.  Pour half the water into the dutch oven and swish it around.  Pour that into a stock pot.  Pour the rest of the water into the D.O. and get the rest of the good stuff into that stock pot.
6. Add the meat.  Crush up the bouilion.  Bring this all to a boil then turn the heat down and let it simmer FOR AT LEAST THIRTY MINUTES.  The longer, the better.
7. Add the okra and tomatoes.  Simmer for AN HOUR.  If you skimp on the cooking time, I will find you.  I will know.
8. Ten minutes before you serve the gumbo, toss in the green onions and the shrimp.  Give it a good stir.  If it isn't thick enough, make a paste out of cornstarch and melted butter and add it to the pot.
Serve this gumbo over white rice and tuck slices of toasted baguettes into the bowl.  Garnish it with parsley if you are feeling fancy.  Bada Boom.
I know, I know.  You love me.  Stop crying and go make it already.

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