Monday, December 30, 2013

Cajun Christmas Part 1- Gumbo

I grew up in a family that loves to cook, as you might have guessed based on previous family recipe posts. Christmas dinner has always my Dad's specialty. He usually pulls out all the stops: appetizer, soup, entree and dessert courses all with matched wines. Last year we moved to Wisconsin and had the stomach flu over Christmas so we postponed dinner and just went simple the following weekend. This year since a multi course meal takes a while, we decided Bubba would be more entertained in his own house with all his toys, so my family came up to Wisconsin. When we talked about a Christmas dinner theme this year we decided to go Cajun with an oyster trio that my Dad is famous for, gumbo, and a smoked ham served with cajun coleslow and hush puppies. I decided to do a three part series of our Cajun Christmas Dinner beginning with the gumbo.

Back when I worked in Chicago I always went to this awesome Cajun place called Heaven on Seven. Their gumbo is amazing! I used to buy a half gallon to-go and bring it home with me on the train whenever my husband had a cold (so much better than chicken noodle soup). One day I bought their cookbook so I could try to make the gumbo. I have had the book for years but have yet to attempt it. It is a little intimidating looking at the ingredients list alone. There is a bit of prep work involved including making a signature Cajun spice, roasted garlic puree, chicken stock, and a dark roux. All of these can be done the day before and if you break the recipe down the gumbo is not quite as time consuming and totally worth it.

2 lbs chicken breast cut into 3/4 inch cubes,
tossed with 4 teaspoons Angel Dust Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb andouille sausage cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup red onion
2 cups seeded, diced green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon seeded, minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon Roasted Garlic Puree
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
6 1/3 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Dark Roux

White Rice

I started with the garlic puree in my prep work.

Roasted Garlic Puree:
8 cloves of garlic
enough olive oil to cover the cloves

Cover with tin foil and bake at 300 for about an hour

Puree with a little of the olive oil

Place in a covered container and refrigerate

Then I made the chicken stock. Kind of a cheater chicken stock because I was supposed to use chicken bones instead of bullion cubes, but I didn't have any chicken bones. Turns out it tastes pretty much the same.

Chicken stock:
9 cups water
7 chicken bullion cubes
1 cup carrots
1 cup celery
1/2 cup onion
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1  bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Simmer all of the ingredients in a covered pot for 3 hours

Let cool then strain all the vegetables out

Cover and store in the fridge

Next the Cajun Seasoning.

Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning:
3 tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons Spanish Paprika (I used smoked)
5 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons thyme leaves
1  1/4 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

And last of all the hardest part. The dark roux.

Dark Roux:
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Heat oil over high heat, about 3 minutes.

Carefully whisk in a little flour at a time until incorporated.
(Watch out the oil spits a little and is HOT! I got two nasty oil burns the size of a pin point)

Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 22 to 25 minutes,
until the roux is dark brown.

Ivor decided to help me make the roux.
By biting my feet at the point where I could not leave the stove.

Carefully pour into a heat proof bowl and cool for 45 minutes.
Drain off and oil that separates from the roux. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Once I spent the day before making all of the special recipes and pre chopped my veggies the actual assembly of the gumbo itself was fairly quick.
Here are all of my ingredients ready to go in the gumbo pot: 

First heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat then add the andouille sausage 
and saute 6 minutes and stirring occasionally.

Then add the cajun spice covered chicken and cook anther 4 minutes.

Then the onions for 2 minutes

And the peppers, celery, and roasted garlic puree, then cook another 2 minutes

Add the remaining spices, cook 2 more minutes

Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil

Whisk in the roux, a little at a time, then stir continuously for 5 minutes.

Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the bay leaf and at this point it is ready to serve with white rice,

But my gumbo was cooled and added to the crock pot to wait for
Christmas morning.

Where it sat happily letting all the flavors blend all day.

It was fabulous! Just like the original Heaven on Seven's. If you happen to be in Chicago, go and try the gumbo in person and the rest of the food on the menu is also amazing as well! Now having made their wonderful gumbo I can fully appreciate all of the hard work they put into perfecting it.

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