A Bit Of Gumbo

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Though Disney didn’t quite get it right with their take on a healthy gumbo, they were on the right path. Gumbo can be full of flavor and toe the line of health. Growing up in New Orleans, I’ve certainly had many variations of gumbo-some that use everything but the kitchen sink-and others that were healthier and with fewer ingredients. My brother was the first in the family to cook a roux-less gumbo with some great seafood. Picking up a few things from him and adding my own twist was just what I needed to pass muster with the more common chicken and sausage gumbo. I used a couple cuts of chicken to make a flavorful base and okra as the thickening agent. I also used two types of sausage for that smokey taste and the kick of the South. I made this a few weeks back for my second gumbo cooking spree. Since it’s once again cold, this was an easy pull from the freezer and quick to defrost in the pot. Below is the recipe. Give it a try and make your own version of a healthier gumbo! 🙂

Ingredients:
1 pack of drumsticks (5-6)
2 chicken breast
2 cups diced onion
3/4 lb andouille sausage
1/2 lb smoked sausage
16 oz fresh or frozen okra
1 cup diced green onion
1/2 tbsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tbsp. gumbo file
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
8 cups of water

Directions:
1. Put a large pot on the stove with 6 cups of water over medium-high heat.
2. Rinse chicken thoroughly and remove skin from the chicken legs. It’s ok if some skin remains, but remove as much as possible, then add the chicken to the pot.
3. Peel and dice the onion and add to the pot.
4. Let boil for 15 minutes, then add okra and reduce to medium heat.
5. Let cook for 15 minutes, then remove chicken legs from pot, onto a plate and pull off chicken with a fork before adding back to the pot. You can also loosely break off pieces of the chicken breast, though it will mostly fall apart once it is done cooking. Add seasonings, green onion and remaining water.
6. Slice sausage and andouille in half and then into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the pot. Top it and reduce to low heat, to simmer.
7. Let cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steep until ready to eat. *Double the recipe and freeze it for easy meal nights.
8. Enjoy!

A Bit Of Seafood

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Though the weather cannot decide if it wants to be warm or cold, my taste buds certainly decided on gumbo. Gumbo can be made in lots of ways. I grew up eating chicken and sausage gumbo, a bit of everything gumbo  and my favorite, seafood gumbo. I have fond memories of trips to Castnet’s in New Orleans, which meant bringing out the newspaper and paper towels to peel and devein shrimp. With this recipe, I solemnly admit that my baby brother, of 7 minutes, is also a great cook. He created an amazing gumbo, sans roux, that uses another favorite and Louisiana star, okra, which is used to thicken the gumbo. My only tweaks were to add whole crab and everything local-fresh crabmeat picked two days ago, fresh shrimp that I peeled and deveined myself, Cutrer’s sausage and locally grown and harvested sassafras all from the Red Stick Farmers Market. I essentially doubled everything to make enough to freeze in individual servings. I hope this dish brings you great flavor and a take on a classic. Please see the ingredients and directions below. As always, please share your thoughts and feedback.

Ingredients:
2 lbs okra
2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
1 lb (16 oz) of crabmeat (claw or lump crabmeat)
1 lb of Louisiana blue crab
1- 1 1/2 lb of sausage
2 cups diced onion
6 quarts of water
2 tbsp ground file (sassafras)
3 tbsp fresh minced garlic
2 tbsp sea salt
1.5 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder

Directions:

1. Chop onion. First cut off each end with sprouts to stabilize the onion, then, placing a flat end down, cut the onion in half. Peel the skin and first layer off of each half, cut into thin strips and then chop the onion. Mince garlic by popping the cloves out of their pods and chop into small pieces.
2. Place onion and garlic into a large 7-8 quart pot, over medium heat, with an inch of water to prevent sticking.
3. Wash and chop okra into 1 inch pieces. If using frozen pre-chopped okra, defrost it by placing the bag(s) in the fridge overnight.
4. Add okra to pot and let it cook for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add all of the water, top the pot and bring to a boil. This will cook out the slim of the okra but also thicken the gumbo. Some of the liquid will also evaporate.
5. Slice sausage into 1/2 inch thick pieces and add to the pot.
6. Break whole crabs in half to stretch your pound, and add the piece to the pot.
7. Add all of the seasonings, Reduce heat to low-medium and top the pot.
8. While the gumbo is cooking, peel and devein your shrimp. This should take 45 minutes to an hour. Note: fill one medium-sized bowl with ice and a little water to place your shrimp in that have been peeled and deveined. This will keep them chilled until you are finished. If using frozen shrimp, let the gumbo cook for the 45 minute to an hour timeframe.
9. Add shrimp and crabmeat to the pot. Let cook for 10-15 minutes.
10. Turn off pot and enjoy.

Note: If serving with rice, start the rice before adding the shrimp and crabmeat to the gumbo.