The Good Home Cookbook (Collectors Press, Fall 2006) is a landmark cookbook that compiles tried and true American favorite recipes. Key to the book's success is the more than 1,000 people currently participating in the first ever national public recipe testing campaign.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Chicken Gumbo--comfort food from the south

Recipe tester feedback indicated you could make this with any level of heat (spice) that you want. So I went mild for the kids and added a LOT of spice to mine. It turned out great. The okra was incredible. We used frozen okra and it kept its form nicely. The brown roux added an interesting flavor as did the file powder. Hope you enjoy this!

Chicken Gumbo
Gumbo is the soup most closely associated with Cajun cooking. It contains the “holy trinity” of onions, celery, and bell peppers, as well as the distinctive brown roux, which gives the soup its silky texture. Tasso is a smoked pickled pork sausage that gives this dish a unique smoky flavor. Smoked ham or Andoullie sausage will also work.

Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 pound bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded (optional) and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth (see page 000)
1 pound okra (fresh or frozen), stems removed and pods sliced (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound tasso or smoked ham, diced
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons file powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 to 6 cups cooked white rice, to serve
2 cups diced cooked chicken
chile powder, to serve
Louisiana-style hot sauce, to serve

1. To make the roux, combine the vegetable oil and flour in a large frying pan, stirring until you have a smooth paste. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the paste is a rich chocolate brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside.
2. Fry the bacon in a large soup pot or saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and reserve for another use.
3. Add the onion, green pepper, celery, jalapeño, and garlic to the bacon fat and sauté over medium heat until the onion is limp, about 4 minutes.
4. Add 6 cups broth, okra, tasso, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves and file powder. Carefully stir in the roux. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, lower the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Add the chicken. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
6. To serve, ladle the gumbo over rice in large soup bowls. Pass the chile powder and hot sauce at the table.


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