Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Phattest Fat Tuesday Ever

The title is a joke. Really. I just liked the sound of it. In all seriousness, today is Fat Tuesday and it calls for some serious eats. Gumbo is my go-to for any sort of Cajun, New Orleans, or Mardi gras themed celebration. It's easy. It's delicious in a meaty, creeping-heat at the back of your throat kind of way. Any smoked sausage will do, but I prefer Conecuh. It’s a perfect accompaniment to chicken in gumbo. Once the roux turns the color of a penny, you’re ready to add the vegetables. I prefer okra in my gumbo, but if you don’t care for it you can substitute your choice of vegetable or just leave it out altogether. Gumbo isn’t an exact science (some Louisiana cooks might disagree) so use your taste as a guide.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Serves 10

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter 
1/2 pound smoked sausage, (preferably Andouille), sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
6 chicken legs
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup okra, sliced into ½-inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Hot cooked rice
Heat 1 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add chicken legs and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add butter and remaining oil and stir flour into pot. Cook over medium heat until roux is browned, about the color of a penny. Add okra, onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic. Cook vegetables until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add chicken legs, stock and water. Add bay leaves, thyme, and hot sauce. Bring to boil and cook 1 ½ hours, until chicken is falling off bones. Remove chicken from pot and cool slightly. Remove meat from bones, discarding skin and bones; cut meat into 1/2-inch cubes and put back in pot. Season with salt, pepper, or hot sauce. To serve, mound about 1/3 cup rice in each soup bowl, then ladle about 1 cup gumbo around rice. Garnish with parsley.

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