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Lent is coming up, Gentle Reader, and as I say to myself EVERY year, “I’ll be ready.  I’m ready.”  I eat a little meat and think, “Okay.  I’m good”.  But a week or two later I start wanting chicken…in a Puerto Rican stew or Greek style with lots of lemon, olive oil and oregano.  Or a little charred, grilled flank steak, rare and sliced thin on top of a HUGE salad.  But that’s the name of the game.  Sacrifice.  Fasting.  Sigh.  Anyway, to circumvent that longing I’ve been meating up.  I figured there’s plenty of time for shrimp gumbo so when I planned this batch I focused on the OTHER white meat.  Smoked pork and Andouille sausage backed up with chicken.  Sounds good, no?  I thought I’d start with a dark, chestnut colored roux and masses of vegetables.  The trinity, of course, finely chopped sweet onion, bell pepper and celery.  Don’t be tempted to cut corners and buy that frozen stuff.  It has NO flavor.  Truly.  Then heaps of freshly chopped garlic and flat leafed parsley.  I’d use chicken stock as my broth and season with a heavy hand of cayenne pepper and Tony Chachere’s.  If you don’t know the glories of Tony Chachere’s then you’re in for a pleasant surprise.  It’s loaded with salt but it’s used in place of salt.  So throw it on your chicken, fries, omelets, fish, really anything.  But check it out.  It’s got a great little kick.  Tony Chachere’s can be found on the spice aisle in your grocery store.  If your store doesn’t carry it you order it on Amazon.  I started by making a roux.  The darker the roux the less it thickens but that’s all right because I wasn’t going to make my gumbo soupy.  I wanted my roux a rich, nut-brown color.

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Into a big, heavy pot I added vegetable oil and flour.  Yes, it’s a lot but, hey, it’s gumbo… you’re gonna cut back?  Then it’s not gumbo.  It’s like caesar salad without anchovies.  It’s not a caesar salad.  At a medium-high heat I continually stirred for about 15-20 minutes watching my roux like a hawk.  It gets to a dark stage that can easily scorch if you’re not careful and then you have to throw it out and start all over.  There’s no saving it once it’s scorched.  I find if you use a wide, wooden spoon preferably flat, it’s easy to keep turning over the mixture.  Once I got my roux the shade of brown I wanted I added all my vegetables except the parsley.  I add that later so I don’t lose any flavor.  I stirred the vegetables well until they were well coated with the roux and then I let them cook a bit…so the onions were almost clear.  The Tony Chachere’s was thrown in along with a box of chicken stock.  I use chicken stock for everything.  I can’t find commercial beef broth that doesn’t have that horrible processed, dirty-foot taste so instead of beef broth I typically use chicken.  I add just the chicken and let that simmer for a good half hour-45 minutes.  The simmering process breaks the chicken down a bit so it’s tender.  I don’t add the pork products at this point because it would boil out all the flavor.  After 45 minutes I  then add my chopped parsley, Andouille sausage, smoked pork.  The heat is dropped to low as the sausage and pork just needs to heat thru and flavor the soup a bit.  That’s it! Serve it over fluffy, white rice and cool the heat with a beer or some brown.  And if you’re Catholic or Orthodox Christian you’d better hurry up… Fat Tuesday’s day after tomorrow.  “Hey, mister!  Throw me sumpin’!”

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Sausage and Chicken Gumbo

yield: one big, ass pot

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 LARGE sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch celery, finely chopped, leaves included
  • 1 large head of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Seasoning Mix or the Creole seasoning of your choice
  • 1 32-ounce box chicken broth
  • 1 large bunch of parsley
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or three large halves, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 12-ounce package Aidell’s Andouille Sausage or the Andouille of your choice, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 3/4-1 pound smoked boneless pork chops, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • any additional heat to taste