Got off a thought provoking call yesterday afternoon with Sinjin in Colorado (enjoyed it dude) and turned to ponder and stare out the window at the falling rain. The rain still falling here in the Puget Sound lowlands.
We’d been talking (mostly) about the engagement of younger folks with the greater world of fly fishing, leaving my train of thought careening from concept to concept like an out of control pinball, when I flashed back to my first fishing days at my grandparent’s beach house on the Texas coast.
Redfish. Speckled trout. Flounder. Live Shrimp for bait and dinner. (We weren’t fly fishing then but fish we did.)
Ten seconds later I was back standing at the stove in my grandparent’s beach-house, peering under MaMa’s (maw maw) elbow at a velvety, chocolate-hued pot of gumbo-goodness filled with seafood that was swimming an hour ago.
Her’s was still the best I’ve ever tasted, excepting perhaps that served in Bay City’s (Texas, MaMa’s town) Etie’s Cafe, now long gone.
MaMa used to brown the sausage she threw in the pot before making the roux; we’ve taken to doing so when making our fave chicken and sausage gumbo. There are a thousand and thirty gumbo recipes around – this is a damned good one and perfect to chase away those ‘it’s raining (or snowing) again” blues away.
1 tbsp. kosher salt (perhaps more)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. of your favorite Cajun seasoning
3 pounds chicken thighs (skinless, boneless)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1/2″ rounds
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
4 scallions, thinly sliced, dark green separated
10 cups homemade chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2-4 tsp. hot sauce (preferably Crystal)
3-4 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley
Point of contention: 2 cups okra, 1/2 inch slices
Brown your thighs. Mix the salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning; dust the chicken thighs with mixture while 1/2 cup oil is heating in your dutch or a heavy pot. Brown the thighs on each side for 3-4 minutes; quickly brown the sausage slices. Set the meat aside to drain.
Drain the pot, running the oil through a fine sieve; add additional oil to make a cup.
Make a roux. Return the oil to the pot, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until the color of chocolate (at least milk chocolate dark). This typically takes 15-20 minutes in our camp; be patient, don’t burn it and watch the splatters.
Add the onions, stir well and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, white and light green parts of the green onions and garlic, stir well and cook for another 7 or 8 minutes until soft.
Make a gumbo. Add the bay leaves and thyme, stir in the broth, then add the chicken and sausage. Bring just to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and try and resist your wonderful smelling gumbo for the next 45 minutes. Stir it a few times and skim the fat from the surface now and again.
(The okra argument: some will argue, and likely correctly, that using okra and a roux together is redundant. If you really need okra in your gumbo, try browning it slightly in a touch of oil and then adding it to the pot – it won’t be slimy and maintains its texture better. Some would then argue you shouldn’t use a roux base with okra in the pot. Argue away, we’re sticking with the roux.)
Whether or not you add the okra, you’ll still need another 45 minutes from this point.
Finishing touches. Stir in 2-4 tsp. of Crystal, the flat leaf parsley and the green parts of the green onions.
Serve it up with a big scoop of white rice in the middle.