Crying “Uncle” and Easing My Way into Mardi Gras

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen, Uncategorized on January 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Crying “Uncle”

Last week was tough. Hitting the eight-month point in the pregnancy and the associated discomforts might have had something to do with that. And then there were those few nights when I thought I was having labor pains, and the night I actually went into the hospital at 3am after whatever pain I was having didn’t let up after two hours and a shower and several glasses of water.

We had invited friends over for a Mardi Gras dinner of sorts, thinking that we were early enough to avoid my being too tired to host a dinner party. Luckily our friends looked at the dark circles under my eyes and told me that I needed to get over myself. So Richard made the seafood gumbo, I made the king cake (with some help from a friend and her industrial KitchenAid), and we headed to our friends’ house for festivities.

It’s nice to be taken care of, especially when you’re not so good at that whole rest and relaxation thing. I’m officially on it’s-all-about-me time now. A pedicure is in my near future.

Richard doesn’t cook much, basically chili and gumbo. The gumbo part came slowly as I delegated parts of the dish to him here and there over the years. The last two gumbos we’ve made I’ve given him instructions (which he’s largely ignored) but he’s been the one to really make the gumbo. He’s done so well, I’m not so sure I want to do it myself anymore.

Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Seafood Gumbo with Andouille

We make our roux for gumbo in a 2:1 flour to oil ratio, so we used 1 c flour and 1/2 c oil. Otherwise, we find we end up skimming oil off of finished gumbo. We don’t add the sausage as I’ve never found an andouille in Maryland that I like. And we used closer to 2 pounds of shrimp — no one complained.

2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery

Seasoning Mix:
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 1/2 cups Basic Seafood Stock

1 pound andouille smoked sausage (preferred) or any other good pure smoked pork sausage such as Polish sausage (kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound peeled medium shrimp
1 dozen medium to large oysters in their liquor, about 9 ounces

3/4 pound crabmeat (picked over)
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice

Combine the onions, bell peppers and celery in a medium-size bowl and set aside. In a small bowl combine the seasoning mix ingredients; mix well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour, whisking constantly with a long-handled metal whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to black, about 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Immediately add half the vegetables and stir well (switch to a spoon if necessary). Continue stirring and cooking about 1 minute. Then add the remaining vegetables and cook and stir about 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic; stir well, then cook and stir about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place the stock in a 5 1/2-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add roux mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the andouille and return to a boil; continue boiling 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes more. Add the shrimp, undrained oysters and crabmeat. Return to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and skim any oil from the surface. Serve immediately.

To serve as a main course, mound 1/4 cup rice in the middle of each serving bowl. Spoon 1 cup gumbo over the top, making sure each person gets an assortment of the seafood and andouille. Serve half this amount in a cup as an appetizer.


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