Friday, July 1, 2011

Mom's Gumbo Recipe and Flea Market Food VIDEOS - Cajun Cuisine Diary

It's a gastronomic family affair all this July. What started with a trip to Gonzales, Louisiana for a visit with Mom soon turned into a Cajun cooking blow-out! And first up are two videos: Flea Market Food and Mom's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

It seems almost every relative I ran into works in the food business. From my two nephews, Chef Matt and Chef Zakk, to my niece's boyfriend, Chef Tony, of And my Mom makes a mean Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, too. That's four recipe videos right there -- and that's only 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!

I made a Jambalaya pot full of food videos, everything from How to Eat a Crawfish, and a New Orleans Po' boy Sandwich Tour; to my nephews' recipes for Blackened Redfish with Sweet Potato Hash and Shrimp and Grits.  There's also a special video of my youngest relative, one-year-old Miles. He stars in Miles' First Cajun Bite -- and he's so maddeningly cute.

Since this is a vacation, I'm leaving my 99-cent boundaries behind. However, you can't really take the skinflint out of this Chintzy Chef - I'll be showing you plenty of great regional food deals. As for the recipes cooked up by my kinfolk, I'll be giving you tips on using cheaper alternative ingredients.

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 rich étouffée tomato sauce, stuffed with rice, veggies, and plump 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, 6 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 an 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.

You will need patience: this Cajun soup is slow cooking. But, Mom makes enough for 6-8 servings -- you could feed a party using her recipe. Plus the longer it sits, the deeper the flavor becomes.

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 is 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.

Filé 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. Filé is made from sassafras leaves, kind of a bay leaf 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.

To view or embed from YouTube, 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 a 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 Filé (dried sassafras leaves)- optional. Mom didn't use it, but I like to.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - okay to leave out salt if you are adding Cajun spices, as they will be salty enough.
  • Rice - Cook 1 or 2 cups to serve with the Gumbo. You can use white or brown rice. Follow package directions.
* Half the chicken, Cajun Seasonings, and water amounts for an 8-cup version of Gumbo.

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 a large fry pan over medium heat, and brown sliced sausage, for about 10 minutes. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain, or add directly, to a pot of boiling chicken.

Next, stir in chopped veggies into the 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 the 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 the flour around and watch it change color. Also, try using healthier flour, like whole wheat.

When Roux is done, turn off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes, so the 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 a teaspoon of dried Filé (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 - I tried one and it's fine. Also, a tip from my nephew Chef Zak, add a half stick of butter to speed up browning time.)

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.


Dinahsoar said...

My mouth is watering and I'm looking forward to watching the videos. (Your mom's dish looks delicious.) It had to be great fun to to gather the details of this food story. Food and families go together and the history that entails is always so interesting to me. Most of the family memories I have growing up are centered around food. It's almost impossible to separate the two in many families.

Me said...

great..nice artical and publishing by you...appreciate on you...thanks for giving detail..

happy after reading your blog....and my mouth is also watering after seeing pictures.


Jessie said...

I just finished eating lunch... why do you do this to me!?! lol This looks so good!!! I NEED A BOWL OF THIS GOODNESS like right now even though I'm so full!!! hahaha
Awwww... I see where you get your awesome personality and great cooking talent... Thank your mom for this delicious recipe! Another one for the recipe box. Yay!!! :)

Woodworkin' & Good Eats said...

Just found your blog. I love to cook especially for big groups. I just enjoy feeding people, good food, good company, that's what I call good living. I just started a blog, two weeks ago and would love to invite you to follow, it helps knowing there are a few folks cheering you on. I am in the process on helping my nephew build a big whole hog smoker on a trailer for pulling to the party. It will be the seventh one I've built. I will be posting photos of the building process. Your food looks so good, enjoying your videos. Your newest follower, Steve. Hope you decide to follow me, too.

Unknown said...

I will definitely try this and see how it goes. I always add Gumbo File’ to mine… its good eating… thank you for the recipe.

lyel Math said...

This is useful information.

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