Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage GumboSure, you may have heard of Gumbo, but do you know where it got it’s name from? Well, we can’t be 100% sure, but we do know that the dish we know as Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana from the Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu (Native African) word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw (Native American) word for filé (kombo). The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. The recipe below actually uses all 3 types of thickeners, though the filé powder is optional (more for taste rather than a thickener). In my mind, 3 is better than 1! This recipe will serve about 6 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 teaspoons oil or fat rendered from cooking sausage*
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 small/medium green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces sausage, sliced
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ¾ cups stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 ¼ teaspoons white sugar
salt to taste
2 ½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste
1 ½ bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ of a 398ml can crushed tomatoes (about 200ml)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon gumbo filé powder
2 ½ teaspoons oil or sausage drippings
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons vinegar

* Cook’s Note: This recipe calls for the use of sausage; you can use any type you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! Remember, save the drippings from cooking the sausage, and use it in place of oil in this recipe. It adds so much more flavour than regular cooking oil!

Directions:

Make a roux by whisking the flour and ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons oil/sausage drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown colour. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage and chicken breasts. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Whisk the roux mixture into the boiling stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of filé gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, heat 2 ½ teaspoons of oil or sausage drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Continue to simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of filé gumbo powder. Serve over hot rice.

Classic Minestrone

minestrone 1

Ingredients:

¼ cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced*
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, diced large
2 zucchini, sliced
1 (398ml) can cut green beans
4 stalks celery, sliced
12 cups vegetable/beef/chicken stock
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme*
1 (796ml) can cannellini beans, with liquid
½ cup elbow macaroni
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add the garlic, leek and onion to the pot, and cook until they become translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the ingredients occasionally so that nothing burns. Add the stock, tomatoes and thyme, and scrape up the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits. Bring the soup to a boil, then replace the lid, and reduce heat to low; simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the cannellini beans with liquid and pasta. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

* click here to see how to properly clean these ingredients.

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco 1 Ingredients:

6 veal/beef shank cross cuts, about 1 ½ inch thick
salt and pepper
flour for dredging, as needed
olive oil, as needed
3 cups onion, diced
1 ½ cups carrots, diced small
1 ½ cups celery, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (156ml) can tomato paste
2 ¼ cups dry wine
1 ½ litres chicken or beef stock
sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary*
cornstarch (optional)

Directions:

Trim the veal/beef shanks, and season them with salt and pepper, then dredge through the flour, shaking off any excess flour. Heat oil in a large pot and sear the meat to a deep brown colour, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Due to the amount of meat you are browning, you may have to do this in batches. Remove the meat and keep separate.

Put the onions in the pot and stir, until golden brown. You can add a little more oil if needed to keep the onions from burning, but you do not want a lot of oil in the pot. Add carrots, celery and garlic, and sauté stirring frequently, cooking for 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it turns a deeper colour and gives off a sweeter aroma, about 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with wine, and reduce liquid by half. At this point, most likely your pot will not be large enough to fit all of the meat and vegetable mixture/sauce, so I often transfer everything to a large casserole dish or aluminum pan. Pouring about half of the vegetable mixture down first, then the meat in a single layer, then topping with the rest of the vegetable mixture. At this point you want to add enough stock to cover the meat by ⅔. Add the sprigs of herbs and cover the dish and put in a 350 degree oven, letting it braise for 2 – 2 ½ hours, until tender.

Classically, at this point, you would remove the herbs and the meat from the pan, and then strain the sauce, only leaving the liquid behind to be thickened with some cornstarch and served with the meat. In my household, vegetables are NEVER put aside! We do not strain the liquid, but serve it as an accompaniment to the meat, often on top of wide egg noodles. Should you wish the actual liquid of the sauce to be thicker, you can separate some and thicken it with cornstarch to serve as an almost gravy. Any way you serve it, you must enjoy!

* to learn how to clean rosemary and thyme properly, click here.

Mushroom Stuffed Beef Rouladen

Rouladen

For this recipe, I suggest using shoulder steak. Have your butcher tenderize it for you, or if you don’t have that option, you can go at it with a meat mallet. I hear it’s a great stress reliever!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 pound assorted mushrooms (brown, Portobello, button, etc.), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup bread crumbs
8 (3 ounce) pieces shoulder steak, pounded thin
¼ cup dry red wine
2 ½ cups beef stock
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms and onion have softened, then stir in dried thyme, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, season to taste with salt and pepper, then mix in the beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Evenly divide the mushroom mixture among the top round slices. Roll each Rouladen around the filling into a tight cylinder and secure with a toothpick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the Rouladen, then transfer to an 8×8 inch baking dish. Pour wine into the hot skillet and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, stir the beef stock into the flour, and mix until smooth. Pour the beef stock into the skillet and return to a simmer. Cook until thickened, then stir in the Dijon mustard. Pour this sauce over the Rouladen. Cover, and bake 60 to 75 minutes in the preheated oven, until the meat is tender. This recipe makes 8 Rouladen. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles.