Sunday cooking: Gumbo

Last week, I asked Twitter for a gumbo recipe and I got a bunch of responses and several very helpful people emailing me recipes. I think it’s safe to say that I looked at well over 30 different recipes. Eventually, I ended up going with this recipe from Paula Deen, with some of my own adaptations, because it had the exact ingredients I wanted to use, and very straightforward directions. I think if you follow Paula’s recipe, you can’t go wrong, but I did make some changes to suit it to my family’s tastes, so my recipe follows

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Tony Chachere Instant roux mix
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 5 cups hot water
  • 2 Tbsp chicken base (combined with hot water, this creates chicken stock. You can substitute canned broth instead)
  • 1 (14-ounce can) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound small raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions

1. Season the chicken with Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning (no set amount, be generous, about 2 Tbsp)

2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook cubed chicken until browned. Do not cook all the way through. Remove chicken from pot w/slotted spoon and reserve in bowl to side.

3. Add the sausage to oil and cook until browned, then remove to same bowl as chicken.

4. Sprinkle the flour and Tony Chachere Roux mix over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let roux cool slightly. (Important note I learned in my reading: use margarine, not butter. Butter burns more easily and when you’re cooking something that needs to be cooked awhile, like roux, it’s easier if you don’t use butter.) Don’t panic if things seem to be sticking to the bottom of your dutch oven. This is totally normal. Once you add the butter, and then the hot water, most of this will integrate back into your dish for an amazing flavor!

5. Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt 3 tbsp butter with the roux. Add the onion, garlic and green pepper and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Add Worcestershire sauce, ground pepper and cayenne pepper, and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

7. During this 10 minute cook period, heat the 5 cups of water in a tea kettle.

8. Slowly add 5 cups hot water and chicken paste, whisking constantly as you add..

9. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

10. Add tomatoes (if you want to add okra, this would be the place to add it. My family doesn’t like it so I omitted). Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

11. Add shrimp and another 1/4 bunch chopped parsley. Simmer 1/2 hour.

12. Start rice when you add shrimp. At the end of half hour, dish rice into a bowl and serve gumbo over rice. Enjoy!

Notes: Paula’s original recipe called for celery (cooked celery = blech), okra (I omitted) and beef bouillon instead of chicken paste. Most gumbo recipes I saw used chicken stock, so I went with the chicken instead. And I always use paste, in place of broth/bouillon, because it’s easy and tasty.

I also added the Tony Chachere’s seasoning, roux and red pepper, so my version adds some spice and heat that hers otherwise wouldn’t have. If you wanted it more spicy, you could add more Chachere’s seasoning or red pepper. You could also use spicy sausage but the andouille sausage is pretty yummy. I chose to go with a moderate spice this time, as a baseline, and I was pretty happy with it.

I have to say, this gumbo was delicious!

Summer dinner: Key West Chicken and Cilantro Lime Rice

I don’t mind BBQ chicken, but it’s not something I want to eat often. So when I knew we were having chicken breasts on the grill for dinner tonight, I went looking for something else I could do. On AllRecipes.com, I found these two recipes, which were easy to prepare. I marinated the chicken for only a half hour, as recommended. The chicken and rice together were amazing, the flavors perfectly complemented each other. A perfect summer meal. I would have loved to have some sliced mango or a tropical fruit salad to go with it. Next time.

Key West Chicken

*note, it would be easy for the soy sauce to take over in this recipe, so I suggest tasting before you add the chicken, to make sure the lime juice is coming through. Also, you don’t have to use fresh lime juice, just buy a bottle of lime juice and make it easy on yourself! Although comments on the recipe say they marinated overnight, be very careful about marinating too long. Chicken marinating in soy sauce can be marinated too long.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions

  1. In a shallow container, blend soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic. Place chicken breast halves into the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Discard marinade, and grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (Use Jasmine. No really. Use Jasmine. Yum!)
  • 2teaspoon lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I did use fresh lime juice for this portion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Bring the water to a boil; stir the butter and rice into the water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Make it right in your rice cooker.
  2. Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving. Taste and add more lime juice or cilantro, as needed. I let this sit, covered in the rice cooker, about 5 minutes while we got everything else ready, and it allowed the flavors to really permeate the rice.
  3. You may wish to sprinkle lightly with sea salt before serving. I have this spiced salt, Florida Sunshine, which was wonderful for this.

I’m making fish tacos for dinner on Tuesday, and will keep the leftover rice to serve with (or in, as people prefer) the tacos.

Sasha’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Months ago, I sent out a Twitter request for a tried and true Chicken Tortilla Soup. I’d tried a number of online recipes but never found one I liked. My long-time friend Sasha Knight, editor extraordinaire, came to the rescue and emailed me her recipe. It’s…fabulous.  The recipe below is exactly as she sent it to me and she said I could share it with you. You should make it, it’s really delicious!

Chicken Tortilla Soup from Sasha Knight

This is the basic recipe, but I change it up all the time, add a little more of one thing, throw extra spices in, sometimes I add in zucchini or peppers. Just whatever I’m in the mood for. This is a good base though, and is good as is if you don’t want to experiment.

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 3-4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I prefer thighs)

1 4 oz can of green chilis

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can of pinto beans (I use jalapeno pinto beans), drained and rinsed

1 can of corn, do not drain (I use mexicorn)

1 can of tomato sauce

2 cans of chicken broth

1 pkg or taco seasoning or 1 pkg of dry fiesta ranch salad dressing (I prefer the fiesta ranch, but I was told that it’s hard to find outside of California)

2 (or more) whole jalapenos, puncture to allow flavor into the soup

1 bunch of cilantro chopped (minus stems)

1/2-1 cup of salsa (any brand, I tend to use chunky)

Tortillas or tortilla chips (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

Shredded cheddar and jack cheese (optional)

Avocado (optional)

How to prepare:

Put chicken in the bottom of the crockpot and pour remaining ingredients on top of it except for the salsa, tortillas, sour cream, and cheese. Stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The last 30 minutes, remove chicken and shred. Put the shredded chicken back into the soup and add the salsa. Mix well. Serve with tortilla chips or tortillas and garnish with sour cream, cheese and sliced avocado.

(AJ: I didn’t read the instructions totally right and added the salsa with all of the other ingredients at the beginning and this didn’t seem to hurt it. I served with grated cheese–mix it into your bowl and it gets a deliciously creamy taste. Top with tortilla chips and…yum! Also, I found Fiesta Ranch packets in the salad dressing aisle, but didn’t use that, because my husband doesn’t like ranch flavor.)

Chicken bog: Dinner

I mentioned I was making chicken bog this week and Gail asked in the comments what it is. It’s something I had never heard of until I met my husband, and had it in a meal at my in-laws house. Josh likes it, and it’s a good alternate use of chicken (or leftover turkey) so I make it once or twice a year. It’s actually pretty easy. Recipe follows:

Chicken bog:

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 package Hillshire Farms beef smoked sausage (the sausage that’s one big link, in case you’re not sure! Cut the link in half lengthwise–so it’s laid open, then in half lengthwise again so you’d be cutting each “round” into quarters)
  • 3 cups leftover chicken (or turkey) or cooked chicken breast diced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 4 tsp chicken base
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups minute rice
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • hot sauce (optional)

Directions:

1. Melt butter in large stockpot. While butter is melting, finely chop onions and garlic. Saute until onion is tender.

2. Add diced sausage and chicken and saute for a minute to heat through

3. Add half the water, the chicken base and the cream of mushroom soup, fresh ground pepper and simmer for 15 minutes (to allow sausage/chicken flavor to get into water)

4. Add rest of water, bring to a boil. Now take out about a cup of water and reserve this. You’ll save this for helping to moisten the bog when you reheat leftovers.

5. Add minute rice to boiling liquid, stir, remove from heat and cover with lid. Let sit until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked.

6. Serve. Each person can optionally sprinkle their bog with hot sauce.

That’s the simple version of bog. My mother-in-law makes a version that involves boiling a whole chicken, but I prefer to roast a chicken and have that for dinner one night, then use the leftovers for bog. Let me know if you have questions!

Chicken and Dumplings: Dinner

My brother requested I make Chicken and Dumplings. I asked him if he wanted Chicken and Biscuits or Chicken and Dumplings. He said Chicken and Dumplings. That’s what he got. Turns out he meant Chicken and Biscuits. Men. But I’d never actually made Chicken and Dumplings before and I like to try new things, so I read a bunch of recipes and then made up my own. Cuz that’s how I roll 😛 This was a quick recipe, ready in 45 minutes. If you’re using pre-cooked chicken, it would be ready in 30 minutes.

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients:
*4 cups water
*2 tsp chicken base (if you don’t have chicken base, substitute 2 cups chicken broth for 2 of the cups of chicken broth)
*1 can cream of celery soup
*1 can cream of chicken soup
*I medium onion finely chopped.
* 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
*1 1/2 cups chopped frozen carrots
*2 lbs cubed chicken (small pieces) (this is also a good recipe for leftover roasted chicken or turkey)
*1 can refrigerated biscuits (don’t buy the butter style, you’ll make your dish greasy). I used a can of the grands, but it doesn’t matter what size the biscuits are, really, just buy a can of biscuits.
*salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Saute the chicken in a minimal amount of oil in a large stockpan. While sauteing, season with desired amount of salt and pepper. Skip this step if you’re using leftover chicken. Or canned chicken.
2. When chicken is nearly done, add finely chopped onions and saute.
3. Once chicken and onions are cooked through, add peas and carrots and saute for a few minutes, just to take the chill off.
4. To the chicken and veggies, add the water, chicken base (or broth), both cans of soup. Bring to a boil.
5. Once the mixture is boiling and well mixed, separate the biscuits. Tear them into small pieces (1 inch pieces) and flatten slightly. I usually take one biscuit, flatten it in my hands, and then tear it into pieces. Throw the pieces into the pot as you tear them. Once all the biscuits are in (don’t worry, it might be a little crowded), mix it up a bit, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Serve. Yum!

You can adapt this recipe by adding finely minced garlic with the onions, using celery or other veggies. I thought it was good kept simple, and my family liked it, but there’s nothing wrong with experimenting!

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