Saturday, March 3, 2012

Eat your Gumbo!

There are as many variations of gumbo in Louisiana and further, as there are different types of people that appreciate, and make gumbo. It is indeed a soulful American dish. In my dealings with the dish, variance often is defined by what I had to start with as proteins. The rest of the dish followed with what I think are good pairings with those proteins. The only constant in making gumbo is the roux which is the backbone of the dish. In my opinion, the simple gumbo is the best gumbo. Let the ingredients speak for themselves and not get lost in a crowd.

Shrimp, Duck, & Sausage Gumbo

(8-10 servings)

1 # wild shrimp 16-21 size (raw)
2 medium whole ducks
1 # smoked sausage (like Andouille)
1/2-1 cup of flour
2 large onions (diced)
4 stalks celery (diced)
1 red bell pepper (fine dice)
1 green bell pepper (fine dice)
6 bay leaves
1 cup scallions (chopped)
6-8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
cayenne pepper to taste
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Technique: Cut the ducks into 8 pieces each, removing the backs. Brown in hot cast iron skillet skin side down for 3 minutes for each piece to brown, and render duck fat. Reserve the duck fat in the skillet. Assemble all the duck pieces in a roasting pan and place in 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until cooked through. Let cool to room temperature. 

In the cast iron skillet, add 1/2 cup to start of flour to the duck fat. Whisk together until a paste formed. You want the texture of the roux to be like slightly runny peanut butter. Add more flour if needed. Saute at low heat, stirring often and allow roux. to brown up. When the roux is at the desired color, ann celery, onion, bell peppers, and diced sausage. Saute for a few moments, and add stock. Add bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer at a low temperature, stirring often. 

Shell, and clean the shrimp. Pull duck pieces apart, and separate meat from fat and bone. When you are happy with the seasoning, and the texture of the gumbo, add the shrimp and shredded duck. Simmer just until shrimp are cooked through, and serve over rice or grits topped with scallions. Make available some Louisiana hot sauce as well. Enjoy!

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