Sunday, October 11, 2009

Roux the day

Yet another repeat appearance by OPO okra in this week's CSA share had me scratching my head for novel ways to prepare this southern slimy favorite. Fried, stewed, and casseroled versions have already been employed. I decided to try my hand at Gumbo.

Let me begin by suggesting this is a dish you probably will want to make in private. In at least one critical junction in the preparation, you will probably feel a) very guilty, b) very hungry, and c) uncertain whether you can actually proceed according to the recipe. The result will not be as good if you lose your willpower at that moment and decide to safeguard your health rather than following the directions. Proceed at your own risk.

The Method
This is an amalgamation of several different approaches I've seen to gumbo. I am emboldened to try this or any other single pot recipe after having purchased a 9 quart Le Creuset enameled cast iron French oven a few years back (to support a successful Christmas cassoulet). The better the pot, the more confidence you can bring to dishes like gumbo.

  1. Heat 1/2 C oil in a deep pot.
  2. Brown a pieces of a whole cut-up chicken (salted and peppered) in the oil and remove to a plate.
  3. LEAVE the oil and chicken drippings in the pot. (Yes, this is the point-of-no-return. There should be about 1C of fats.)
  4. Incorporate 1 C flour into the hot grease. This is your roux
  5. Continue to cook -stirring regularly - the roux over fairly high heat for several minutes. It will brown. The intensity of the browning will affect the flavor and color of the final dish.
  6. To the roux, add: 1 roughly chopped onion, 1 roughly chopped green pepper, 2 roughly chopped stalks of celery, one head of garlic (minced), 8 bay leaves (yes, 8).
  7. Cook the veggies with the roux for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Add 2 quarts of chicken stock.
  9. Return the chicken to the pot.
  10. Add 1# of sliced andouille sausage, a chopped (real) tomato, and smoked pork neckbones (remaining from spicy greens).
  11. Add 1# chopped okra
  12. Season to taste with: salt and pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and paprika
  13. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours.
  14. Serve over rice.
  15. Freeze the leftovers.
The Result
Heaven. Well, if the idea of eating a pot of chicken and sausage gravy with the occasional vegetable poking out sounds like a dinner worth having, this was heaven! The sausage gave the dish just a hint of spice, but wasn't distracting. The okra dissolved, thickening the stew. Perhaps some would add it much later so that it would retain its independence, but we enjoyed it in this way. We have plenty to put in the freezer, and still more for a second meal later this week. (Given the high fat-to-other-things ratio, this is probably a wise choice.)

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Anonymous said...

any filet powder?

Jim said...

No. Instead I used only the roux and the okra to thicken the gumbo. Those did a great job!

Anonymous said...

ah! another use is just as a "garnish" sprinkling on top. i might need to make (aka ask scott to make) gumbo this weekend. sounds good right now!

Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009