Monday, December 3, 2007


I spent a lot of time last week wandering through Shaw's supermarket after work trying to come up with ideas for meals for Sandra and myself. Our nest is still empty, and I don't have too many items in my repertoire for two people.

On Sunday, I got a great idea. Instead of going to Shaw's looking for ideas, I should go to McKinnon's Meat and Super Butcher Shop instead.

McKinnon's is, as its name suggests, a combination butcher shop, meat market, and super market... all rolled in one. The prices for groceries aren't bad, but their specials on meat, poultry, and seafood are fantastic!

They advertised Baby Back ribs for less than $2.50—but they were unfortunately out of stock. Sandra and I looked at different meat items until I came across their andouille sausage.

"I could make gumbo," I suggested without much hope.

"Do you know how to make it?" Sandra asked.

"I think I have a recipe in my private collection," I answered. (I did; it was one of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals.)

Sandra then surprised me by saying, "If you want to make it, then I'll try it."

Up until that moment, Sandra never even tried gumbo. I've found a couple of restaurants that serve it—like Border Cafe, which serves it as an appetizer, but every time I offered a taste to Sandra, she always turned me down.

I was so happy that Sandra gave me the chance that I realized that I did not actually know what was needed for the recipe. I knew that okra played a big part, and suggested celery and onions. I wanted to make it with chicken, sausage, and shrimp (Hey! Why not go for broke?). I checked a can of Campbell's Gumbo Soup (their Healthy Request version of Gumbo is surprisingly good, by the way!), and checked the recipes and confirmed the ingredients, which included tomatoes, so I got a big can of crushed tomatoes as well. Instead of green pepper, which doesn't appeal to either Sandra or me, I got a tiny can of chopped green chiles from the Mexican aisle.

When I got home, I searched my recipe file and found Rachael's recipe. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, so I searched the recipes on, and found about seven pages of hits for gumbo.

The one I chose had most of the ingredients that I already had, with the exception of shrimp, which I figured could be added in later.

When I made this recipe, I noticed a few things:

  • I needed more than the three tablespoons of oil to make the roux
  • I needed more than a half cup of flour, but the recipe DOES say a half cup plus flour for dredging. I dredged the chicken in the half cup of flour, and used the remainder for the start of the roux. I needed to add more flour to get what I thought was enough.
  • I threw a handful of peeled shrimp into the gumbo about fifteen minutes before I was ready to serve the dish.
  • Next time, I think I will cook the vegetables separately, since cooking them in the roux didn't seem to work so well.
  • Sandra found out at the last minute that we didn't have white rice, so we substituted jasmine rice (Thai rice) instead, which worked nicely.
  • I used the crushed tomatoes rather than the peeled whole tomatoes called for in the recipe. After putting in about half a can, I realized I had enough, so I put the remainder into the refrigerator for later on this week when I make an Italian sauce.
  • I used some spicy creole seasoning (not very much, though) instead of the red pepper, since I didn't want to make the gumbo too spicy.

Sandra's verdict? She liked it! She was surprised that it wasn't very spicy at all, which I think was the reason for her hesitancy for even trying it in a restaurant.

We had enough for two meals (so much for the "meal for two" I wanted to make), and we plan on having leftovers on Monday evening.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Source:From Food Network Kitchens
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:50 minutes
Yield:6 to 8 servings


2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 chicken thighs

2 medium onions, sliced

2 red or green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into strips

2 ribs celery, chopped

10 ounces fresh or frozen okra, cut into ½ inch pieces

10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

6 to 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 scallions (whit and green parts), thinly sliced

Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and much of the fat is rendered. Remove the sausage to plate with a slotted spoon.

While the sausage browns, pour a good amount of flour into a shallow baking dish, and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken with the flour and add to the Dutch oven, in batches if necessary, and cook until brown on both sides. Remove to the plate with the sausage.

Add the ½ cup flour to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown. Add the onions, peppers, and celery to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Stir in the okra and the garlic and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Strip the leaves from the thyme into the Dutch oven, and stir in the bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and 6 cups broth. Crush the tomatoes through your hands into the pot. Return the chicken and sausage to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in some additional chicken stock to thin the sauce a bit, if desired.

Stir in the vinegar, scallions, and parsley, taste, and adjust the seasoning.


2 cups long-grain rice

3 cups water or chicken broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Put the rice in a medium saucepan with a cover. Stir in the water or broth, salt, and pepper. Smooth the rice to make an even surface, cover and heat over low to medium-low heat until all the liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

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