It seems almost every relative I ran into works in the food business. From my two nephews, Chef Matt and Chef Zakk, to my nieces' boyfriend, Chef Tony, of BBQGUYS.com. And my Mom makes a mean Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, too. That's four recipes videos right there -- and that's only the half of it!
The trip was a walk down my culinary memory lane -- every time I go back I dive right into the local food culture, and this time I'm bringing you along for a flavorful tour!
Take the expensive Redfish in my nephew Chef Zakk's Blackened Fish recipe video -- he might flip his chef's hat, but I would cook a cheapie version using a 99.99 cent frozen package of Tilapia fish. You can take the ingredient lists for each recipe with a grain of salt -- if there is a cheaper way, I'll point it out to you.
In my first video, below, you'll discover that the local Flea Market is a great place to sample Cajun cuisine on the cheap. When my brother-in-law Rich let me tag along on his shopping trip, I found out there was a food court selling Crawfish Pie, Jambalaya and Boudin Balls (insert joke here, or just watch the video).
You will get a good look at these unusual local delicacies. Crawfish Pie is a flaky turnover with a savory tomato sauce, stuffed with rice, veggies and crawfish tail meat.
The Jambalaya is bound to be tasty at this flea market, since it's located just outside of Gonzales, Louisiana, which is known as the Jambalaya Capital of the World (Mom's recipe here.) As for Boudin (pronounced boo-dan) Balls, well, watch and learn.
Flea Market Cuisine - Video
Play it here. The video runs 3 minutes, 5 seconds.
To view or embed from youtube, click here. And 99 thanks to my brother-in-law Rich!
Mom is back for another Cajun classic! It has been too long since I've had her in front of the camera. Last time, she rocked the cast iron kettle with a scrumptious rice dish, Mom's Jambalaya (click here) -- it's become one of my Top Ten YouTube videos. After you see Mom's latest video, for her Louisiana Gumbo, I predict it will be your new favorite.
Mom's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo is a perfect budget 99 Cent Chef recipe. Chicken is cheap and sausage is too. Go with your locally made sausage and make the recipe your own.
As a side note, a Cajun post-Thanksgiving tradition is to make a Gumbo with leftover cooked turkey. So if you do this version, subtract the raw chicken cooking time (about an hour) - all you are doing is heating up the leftover turkey.
Mom used the more expensive Andouille sausage. Louisiana is famous for this extra lean cured pork link. It holds up to the hour and a half of simmering in a complex dark brown Roux broth. If you use a cheaper sausage, after browning, you may want to add it during the last half hour of cooking.
To keep the Gumbo lean and mean, leave off the skin and use white meat only. Although, I prefer dark meat, and usually leave the skin on half of the pieces for a richer broth. Mom used a whole chicken for her recipe with a pound of Andouille sausage.
The base of Mom's Gumbo is flour cooked with oil to a dark to medium brown -- it's called a Roux. This is where you have to stand over a skillet and slowly stir for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the conductivity of the pan). You cannot set a timer to tell you when a Roux is ready -- you have to go by the chocolate color.
These days you can take the work out of a Gumbo by buying a pre-made roux sold at some grocery stores. It is already browned and is ready to use. I've seen it sold dry and wet.
This Cajun classic uses the so-called local Trinity: chopped bell pepper, onion, and celery. These three inexpensive veggies are used in almost every Louisiana dish.
Gumbo can also be made with seafood. If you make a fish, crab, shrimp or crawfish gumbo (or combination), add a teaspoon of crab boil. To enhance the seafood flavor even more, use the broth of boiled seafood shells, and/or the liquid from a small can of cooked oyster pieces or clams. Also - be sure to wait until the last 20 minutes of cooking to add seafood to the gumbo - you don't want to overcook it.
To add okra or to not add okra, that is the slimy question. Some are grossed out by okra, but as a thickening agent it's perfect. I like it though, especially coated in cornmeal and fried. The taste if fine with me and goes good in a Gumbo. Of course you can add it or leave it out. Click here to read about the origins of Gumbo with Okra.
File is another spice you add or leave out. It can be hard to find, but it adds another level of flavor to a Gumbo stew. File is made from sassafras leaves, kind of a bay leave flavor. It was originally used to thicken Gumbo.
Mom is well known for her Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, and out-of-town family and friends beg her for it! Now the begging is over. Thanks Mom, for sharing your recipe with my visitors and me. I love you.
Mom's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo - Video
Play it here. The video runs 8 minutes, 8 seconds.
Play it here. The video runs 8 minutes, 8 seconds.
To view or embed fromYouTube, click here.
99 thanks to my sister Brenda for comic (and dramatic) relief.
Ingredients (serves about 6 -8)
- 1 whole chicken cut up (about 3-4 lbs.)- okay to use precut packaged pieces. I remove half of the skin for a lighter Gumbo.
- 1 lb. Andouille Sausage sliced - okay to substitute a cheaper favorite.
- 4 quarts of water - enough water for a soup.
- 1 whole onion - chopped
- 2 stalks of celery - chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper - chopped
- 2 cloves garlic (1 tablespoon) - chopped
- 1 cup of chopped green onions (about 4-6 whole ones with stalks)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley - okay to use tablespoon of dried.
- 1/2 cup of oil - olive or veggie
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1 tablespoon Cajun Spices - I use Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon File (dried sassafras leaves)- optional. Mom didn't use it, but I like to.
- 1 cup okra - optional. Frozen or fresh, sliced or whole.
- Salt and pepper to taste - okay to leave out salt if you are adding Cajun spices, as they will be salty enough.
- Rice (1/2 cup of uncooked rice equals one serving) - Cook with 2 cups rice to use up all the Gumbo. You can use white or brown rice. Follow package directions.
Start water to boil in a large enough pot to hold 4 quarts of water. Add cut-up chicken.
Add 1/2 cup of oil to large fry pan over medium heat, and brown sliced sausage, about 10 minutes. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain, or add directly, to boiling chicken.
Next, stir in chopped veggies to frying pan with oil. Saute for about 5 minutes until soft. Again, remove cooked veggies with a slotted spoon and add to boiling chicken and sausage pot. Try to remove all veggie bits, because next, you are browning flour in the oil for 20 minutes!
(It may be easier to just brown roux in a different pan, or brown Roux first then clean pan and saute veggies and sausage.)
Add flour to oil to make a Roux. Make sure you have your favorite radio station playing in the background -- you need to slowly stir the flour and oil until it is a dark brown, about 20 minutes. This gives Gumbo its brown color and nutty flavor.
A lighter Gumbo can be made using less oil. Just use a tablespoon of oil to fry sausage and veggies. And flour will brown without oil as well -- just slowly stir flour around and watch it change color. Also, try using healthier flours, like whole wheat.
When Roux is done, turn off heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes, so oil doesn't splatter when you add it to the Gumbo pot. Carefully add Roux to boiling meat and veggies. Add okra and also add teaspoon of dried File (both optional.) Stir well. You can add some of the broth back to the Roux pan to wash it all out.
(And if you want to speed things up then buy a pre-made Roux from the grocery store.)
By now, the meat, sausage and veggies have been cooking for about 1/2 hour. At this point, bring Gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and cook another hour. I usually uncover after half an hour to make the Gumbo broth cook down by about half. This makes for a richer broth. You can always add water, or broth, if you lose too much liquid.
During the last half hour of cooking, you can start your rice. Cook according to package directions.
To impress your guests and make your gumbo look like the picture above, remove bones and shred chicken into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to Gumbo to reheat before serving. Finally, during the last 15 minutes, add chopped green onions and parsley.
Serve Mom's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo over white or brown rice.