Monday, May 12, 2014

Chicken Gumbo

I have now been to the Tabasco factory twice. Once, as a teenager, my mom took us. I remember the immediate tingle in my nose as I stepped out of the car.  The oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and the dense St. Augustine grass were so familiar... and yet my nose told me something was very much amiss with the other vegetation!

The second time was last year with Tom on vacation.  Tom and I love spicy food, though he sometimes snubs Tabasco as being too vinegar-y.  I hoped that stepping foot on the lands that fostered that great American sauce would persuade him.

Upon arrival, we were SO RELIEVED to get out of the car that we were quite content to watch a fun (campy) film before seeing the very vats in which Tabasco is made through plated glass. We took the complete tour behind a French couple and their kid (and, uh, since the had consular plates, we might have tried (to no avail) to figure out who they were via a sloooooow Google).  We toured the gift shop. We sampled every sauce variation Tabasco makes. We bought gifts and souvenirs and might even have run back to the front of the museum for photos.

Despite all that and a small stare down with a gator (I won), Tom remains iffy on Tabasco.

And yet, when I make gumbo, it is the sauce that fits even in Tom's eyes.  Sriracha just does not. Pureed roasted jalapenos... nope.  Tabasco, in its vinegar-y glory, sings.  I like to think of it as tying us to the cajun heritage, a small victory that makes some maman somewhere smile just a bit sphinx-like.

And, you know, gumbo is just good eats, y'all. With or without tabasco.

For those of you who gasp at the use of flour on a "low carb" recipe, please rest at ease. It comes out to less than a teaspoon per serving but adds a very nice thickness and nuttiness to the overall dish.  My nutrition facts below account for the flour.  Clearly, if you are avoiding gluten gratis gluten, omit.  It doesn't "need" thickening and makes a fine stew without--the okra provides surprising body on its own.

I... don't like handling raw chicken. Ew. So I just toss the chicken into the pot, let it cook, and pull it out about 20 minutes into simmer time to chop.  You could also use rotisserie chicken, or you could be a less "blech!" person than me and just cut it into bite size pieces before cooking. As you do.

2 T butter (or, you know, more)
2 T flour
1 tsp thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 bag mixed peppers and onions
1 bag cajun mirepoix
1 bay leaf
1 T Chacheres
14 oz andouille sausage, sliced (typically one package 'roun these parts)
2 bags sliced okra
1 can diced tomatoes
broth/water as needed to cover
2 lbs chicken breast (slice into bite-sized pieces before cooking or pull out and slice after)

1) Make a roux by melting the butter and stirring the flour around. THIS IS NOT HARD, it is not advanced cookery.  Don't be intimidated. It is "put on some music, sing about 5 songs karaoke-style while stirring flour in a pot" cookery.  At that point, it should be brownish. I like mine about the color of the skin on raw pecans. After that, I get super nervous that I'm going to ruin my whole dish, but that's probably silly.
2) Add pepper/onion bag, mirepoix bag, garlic, Chacheres, bay leaf, and thyme, cook through. Add water to cover.
3) Add sausage, okra, chicken, tomatoes. Add water and equivalent broth bouillon or what have you. Let cook 20ish minutes. Slice chicken (if necessary) and return to pot.
4) Eat. Serve with your favorite Louisiana hot sauce. Pour moi, le tabasco.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1/8th recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 17%Vitamin C 42%
Calcium 8%Iron 13%

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