O. M. G.*

May 10, 2012 § 3 Comments

* The “G” is for gumbo.

Yum. Just…yum.

Remember last week I told you about my Shrimp’n’Grits, and promised to tell you all about the gumbo I made later that evening with the shrimpy butter as the base for the roux? Well, here you go. I call this my “Kitchen Sink Gumbo” because, in direct violation of everything I read in my Louisiana cookbooks (specifically Donald Link’s Real Cajun and the Times-Picayune collection Cooking Up a Storm) it involves seafood, chicken, and andouille sausage all thrown in the pot together. And it’s goooood. I tasted it to see if it needed more salt/kick/whatever and said, “Oh, that’s good. [pause] OH. That’s goooooood.”

I’d never made a gumbo before, but there were things I knew I wanted (shrimp, chicken, andouille) and things I knew I didn’t (green peppers — I’m allergic). I ended up consulting all of the gumbo recipes in both of the aforementioned books and then making a bit of a mish-mosh of them all. I think the biggest deviation I made (aside from combining all the meat types) was the roux. All of the gumbo recipes I consulted called for an oil-based dark roux; I wanted to use my shrimpy butter so I ended up with a lighter roux. I think it came out just fine (where “just” = “damned”). I served it over rice, and found that a sweet cornbread makes a nice side.

Recipe

(loosely adapted from recipes found in Donald Link’s Real Cajun and the Times-Picayune collection Cooking Up a Storm)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c butter
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c diced celery
  • 1/4 c carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1/4 c onions (I don’t really like onion a whole lot, and I especially hate chopping onion, so I used itty bitty pearl onions that I just cut in half and threw in.)
  • 1 can Progresso red clam sauce
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb chicken, diced and cooked
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced into half circles
  • 2-3 bay leaves, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (1/2 tsp was just enough for me, but I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy)

In the bottom of a large stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter. Add flour to make a roux, and cook until fairly dark (but be careful not to burn it). Add celery, carrots, and onions. Cook until soft. Add clam sauce, broth, and all meats. Boil for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, add bay leaves and simmer for 2hrs (give or take). Add salt and cayenne pepper just before removing from heat.

Expanding My Horizons

August 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

And my waistline, but so, so worth it. I came across this thing called Taste & Create a few months ago, where people make food from each other’s blogs (you sign up and get assigned a partner each month — it’s very cool). I decided to participate for the first time this month, and my partner was Always Eat On the Good China. The hardest part was choosing a recipe to make (and I’m totally going to make more of them — she has some really nommy sounding stuff!) but I finally settled on the Chicken Puffs. Chicken, bacon, cheese, puff pastry…what could possibly go wrong? Nothing, in this case. They were amazing.

Delish.

I did modify the recipe a little to use what I had on hand (for example, I used goat cheese instead of cream cheese), and since I’m not a huge fan of plain chicken, I also decided to play around with marinades* and tried something new: OJ and balsamic vinegar. Yeah, that’s a keeper (1c. OJ + 1 Tbsp BV to cover about 1.5lbs of cubed chicken). She mentions in her post about the recipe that although the pic shows a whole chicken breast, she now cuts it into bite size chunks, so I went that way with it. And I didn’t mix anything up for the cream cheese mixture — I just threw a bunch of goat cheese on top and then topped it with some fresh basil, because I am lazy. Oh! Also instead of spraying my cookie sheet I just lined it with parchment paper which works beautifully for keeping stuff from sticking. And I didn’t brush with the egg wash, but that was just because I totally forgot to do it. Seemed to come out fine, but they would’ve been a little crispier with the wash.

The pile of nommy stuff going into the middle of the puff: chicken, goat cheese, bacon, fresh basil.

So, modifications I’ll probably make next time I make this (because there will be a next time): First off, I think I’m going to try it as a pot-pie kind of thing…the puff pastry-to-filling ratio is just really high. Now, it’s puff pastry, so it’s not like my tastebuds are complaining, but I think it will be just as tasty topped with the puff instead of surrounded by it. Second — you might want to sit down for this one — I’m going to leave the bacon out. I just really didn’t feel like it added much to the flavor experience in this case. Weird, I know, but there you are. I also will probably try different marinade/cheese combos — I think this would be great with something spicy on the chicken and cheddar cheese, for instance. And there you have it…my first Taste & Create. This was tons of fun — I’m totally going to do it again next month!

Fresh from the oven.

*A note on using a marinade on something you’re going to wrap in puff pastry and bake: you need to dry it out before you put it in the pastry. Throw it in a saute pan and brown it — you’ve got lots of sugar in this marinade, so even let it caramelize a bit. You don’t need to worry so much about it being cooked through — the baking in the oven part will take care of that. And it won’t get too dry b/c you’ve added all that moisture to it.

I didn’t say chicken, I said kick his butt!

August 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

This weekend I was in a “play around in the kitchen” kind of mood, and I was also in a “chicken and mushrooms” kind of mood. I originally thought I might make a chicken marsala, but I didn’t have wine on hand and didn’t feel like stopping to get any, so I decided to use the beer I did have. I also felt like playing with spices a little instead of just dosing everything with oregano and basil (though you know I do love my basil). What I came up with ended up tasting pretty much like I expected — and wanted — it to taste, so this one’s a definite keeper. And it’s ridiculously easy, too, so bonus!

Noms.

This dish is great served over rice or pasta and topped with a little cheese. It has a very rich but subtle flavor, so a sharp or strongly flavored cheese really stands out nicely (I threw on some sharp cheddar the first night and then used some shaved asiago on the leftovers. Both were quite tasty).

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken, give or take
  • 1 lb. crimini or portabello mushrooms, give or take
  • 1 12oz. bottle of beer (I used Honey Brown because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 tsp dry ground mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • app. 1 Tbsp flour, if necessary

Cube chicken and slice mushrooms (I sliced the mushrooms while the chicken was cooking). Pour 3/4 of the beer into a saute pan and heat to simmering. Add mustard, paprika, and chicken. Allow chicken to simmer in liquid until cooked through. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving as much liquid as possible in the pan. Add butter to the remaining liquid and allow to melt. Add the remaining beer and allow to heat back up to simmer. Add mushrooms and cook through. If the liquid is still a bit thin, thicken with flour as desired.

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