09 June, 2013

Cajun Cookin'

Last night I tried out a new recipe that I copied out of a magazine at work.  The recipe was for chicken gumbo, but I made a few substitutions.  It was really tasty, and made a crazy amount of food.  I figured I should save the recipe for posterity, so that I won't have to worry about losing the copy I made!  The recipe is below, with my substitutions in parentheses.

Easy Chicken (and seafood) Gumbo
adapted from Southern Living Magazine, February 2010

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 11/2 - 3 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth (I used homemade seafood stock)
  • 1/2 lb. Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used 2 cups chicken and 2 cups mixed seafood)
  • okra pilau (recipe below)
1. Heat oil in large dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until flour is chocolate-colored. (Do not burn!)
2. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in onion, bell pepper, celery, seasoning, and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.  Gradually stir in broth and sausage. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
3. Prepare okra pilau.
4. Stir chicken (and seafood) into gumbo, cook 5 minutes. Serve over okra pilau.

Okra Pilau
Southern Living Magazine, February 2010

  • 3 bacon slices
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. frozen sliced okra, thawed
  • 2 (8.5 oz.) packages ready-to-serve Cajun rice (I used Zatarain's reduced-sodium jambalaya mix)
1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 Tb. drippings in skillet.
2. Sauté onion and okra in hot bacon grease over medium-high heat 6-8 minutes or until tender.
3. Prepare rice according to package directions. Stir rice and crumbled bacon into okra mixture.

Some additional musings on this culinary production:

This is actually the first time I've ever made bacon.  (Seriously?  Seriously.) And I have to tell you - I think I missed my calling. 

I'd be perfectly happy making just the okra rice and stirring some chicken or sausage into it.  At that point, it probably is jambalaya.  But really, okra cooked in bacon is really delicious. 

I think I'd be just as content with plain white rice cooked in stock instead of the Cajun rice, because there are A LOT of flavors in this dish.

If you're making both, make the rice in advance and leave it off the heat with the lid on the pot as long as you need it.  This recipe was almost more juggling than I could handle on my own.

I used the weird frozen seafood mix (shrimp, squid, octopus, and mussels) I bought at Bravo.  I thawed them, then sautéed in 1 Tb. oil and 1 tsp. minced garlic for 2-3 minutes.  Plain old shrimp would work too.

Oh, my dishes! I used 2 skillets, 2 big pots, a bunch of bowls, cutting boards, and other measuring instruments and utensils and I can't figure out how I could have used less.

I actually formed and popped a blister on my finger from chopping all the vegetables.  Apparently I'm out of practice!

This was my first time making a dark roux, and I liked that the recipe used peanut oil instead of shortening just to make that process go a little faster.  The stuff goes from tan to dark brown in seconds, so don't walk away. Don't even take your eyes off the pot. And have the next ingredients standing by ready to dump in.

I can't say for sure, because I haven't had lunch yet, but this seems like the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day.  It's also an incredibly forgiving recipe.  It wasn't until I was transcribing the original recipe that I realized I screwed up the amount of stock used.  I only used 3 cups, and it should've been almost 6!

I highly recommend making it, and I'm sure I'll be doing it again. 

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