Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardi Gras Fills the Bill!

This one is for Bill. I like Bill. He reads my blog and wants to know why I haven't written anything lately. Honestly, I'd like to tell Bill, why I haven't written any thing lately. Here we are out for our regular Friday Family pizza date, and I've got nothing.

Our two families get together as often as we can at Top Class Pizza. The kids are friends at school, where there is little time to cut loose. At pizza night they play games and tear around the parking lot. As parents its our job to share a tasty pie, poke fun at what's happening in the world and commiserate over 6th grade homework.

So back to the problem. How did I get writers block anyway? Is it because it rained more days this month then the suns shined? Am I caving to the pressure of the current economical blues? Perhaps it's because my oven door is broken and now must be secured with bungie cords to close. Stupid Thermadore. I started thinking...I need inspiration. I need an outing, a change of scenery, an adventure. I need Fat Tuesday!

Original to Louisiana, Mardi Gras came to Califorina a decade ago when some brilliant crazies saw the potential of 5th street in the Gas Lamp Quarter of Down Town San Diego as West Coast Party Central. Good for them and good for me!

Tuesday February 24, Richard and I skipped town and headed south, where we lived it up New Orleans style for one Mardi Gras night. We crashed at the Ivy Hotel, a stunning, luxurious, contemporary restored beauty on 6th and F. If you get a chance, take this one in! Sometimes you need to get away and rest, but then there is times a good scream for plastic beads could do you a whole lot better!

Back home and flipping through my recipes I find a Creole dish Bill and his family would love, I choose Gumbo. Not because I have Mardi Gras on the brain, but even the name Gumbo is fun! Sharing this dish may not stimulate the economy, fix my oven door or break through my writing block. It's great old fashioned Creole comfort food and if nothing else, a great way to face the rain.


CREOLE GUMBO WITH SHRIMP, ANDOULILLE AND CHICKEN


INGREDIENTS:
1 lb. andoulille sausage cut 1/4 inch thick
⅓ cup vegetable oil
⅓ cup butter
2 lbs. chicken
1 lb. shrimp
2 quarts chicken stock
⅔ cup flour
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup green pepper chopped
1 cups okra sliced
2 tablespoons garlic minced
3 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup green onion chopped
4 cups cooked rice

DIRECTIONS:

In 3-quart saucepan, over medium-high heat, brown chicken in 4 tablespoons oil, about 7-10 minutes.
Add chicken stock, cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove chicken, set aside liquid, and when chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and dice meat into 1/2-inch cubes.

In skillet, over medium heat, heat oil and butter until melted, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until roux turns dark brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Using the same 3 quart sauce pan, brown sausage, add onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and okra. Cook about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add reserved chicken stock along with bay leafs, thyme, tabasco, cayenne, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Ladel about 2 cups of chicken stock into roux, whisk together over medium heat-about 5 minutes. Bring to boil-reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add back into 3 quart sauce pan with vegetables and sausage.

Add cooked diced chicken and simmer another 45 minutes.

Add shrimp-cook 5 more minutes.
Remove pan from heat, add green onions and adjust seasoning. Let gumbo stand 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, mound about 1/3 cup rice in each soup bowl, then ladle about 1 cup gumbo around rice.