Thursday, January 28, 2010

Carnivale Gumbo

 My best friend Lisa is the queen of all things for many reasons and one of them is her culinary skill. This past weekend, she invited me over for some homemade gumbo New Orleans-style in honor of the Saints game.

Having lived in New Orleans for many years before coming back to her hometown in the desert, Lisa acquired not only a love of the football team, but of many things quintessentially of the place like her infamous costume closet lined with boas, baubles and wigs; her knack for entertaining and ability to run small or large scale events, her love of good jazz and zydeco music and her very sassy, Southern-belle diplomacy and true charm. All of this means she hardly ever does anything regularly so when I heard she was making this authentic dish I knew I had to bare my sports illiteracy and head on over for the game.

With a sea of green, gold and purple beads and special carnivale music for the commercial breaks, she served the smoky flavored stew with chunks of french bread and a dollop of white rice to mix in. The recipe, passed on from another New Orleans maven Salle Pavlovich, was insanely good. Full of depth and rich undertones, ("the trick is the roue!", says Lisa), we could barely contain ourselves while waiting for our spoonfuls to cool. Topped off with slices of creamy, chewy and sweet King Cake, this meal was up there in the annals of decadence for the year.

From Salle Pavlovich:
New Orleans Turkey Sausage Gumbo

Makes 8-10 servings
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1/2 cup green bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 pound smoked sausage (such as kielbasa), chopped
3 boxes (32 oz.) Swanson low-salt Chicken Broth (or make own stock)
Cooked turkey meat from roasted breast (or pre-roasted turkey or chicken from grocery store)
Steamed white rice, accompaniment (can be boxed instant, make as much as you like)
1 loaf French bread, accompaniment
4 Bay leaves

Cooking Directions
Combine the oil and flour in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring slowly and constantly with a heavy wooden spoon for 20 minutes to 25 minutes, to make a dark brown roux the color of chocolate. (will smoke up kitchen-turn on the fan!)

In a bowl, season the onions, bell peppers, and celery with the salt and cayenne. Add to the roux and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Lower the temp if needed. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Add the turkey meat and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste. Spoon rice into the bottom of large soup bowls and ladle the gumbo on top. Serve with hot French bread for dipping.

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