Monday, January 18, 2010

Making Donald Link's Fried Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Gumbo making is stressful business for me.  I didn't grow up with a Southern Louisiana mama to show me the ropes, so I've had to figure it out on my own, with only vague recipes and the occasional video on making roux to assist me.  To be honest, I spent the first seven or eight years of living in New Orleans making gumbo from a box of Autin's Cajun Cookery gumbo mix.  When I finally decided that I really wanted to learn to make it from scratch, I realized that I was a complete idiot at making roux.  I didn't understand how long it was supposed to take to get dark brown.  Didn't know just how much to stir to keep it from burning.  Didn't understand how to get it from that medium caramel-y brown to the dark chocolatey brown it is supposed to be for gumbo without having a coronary in the process.  Still don't.  However, I persist.

For the Saints game on Saturday, we had our lovely neighbors over for gametime and dinner.  I decided to try the Fried Chicken and Andouille Gumbo recipe from Donald Link's Real Cajun.

Also made a side of his potato salad since I love a scoop of potato salad in the bowl alongside my rice.

The first thing I did wrong was grossly underestimate how long it would take to cook.  I skimmed the recipe a few times and settled on 2.5 - 3 hours in my mind.  It took much longer than that.  Probably closer to 6.  Making the roux took me an hour.  Is that right??  The book says that the process should take about 40 minutes, but I stirred and stirred and fretted and frowned over it and still didn't have the dark brown I needed until 60 full minutes had passed.  When I finally gave up and threw the onions in, it had just barely reached a dark brown and could easily have gone darker still, but I was so exhausted by the effort at that point that I decided good was good enough.  I don't know what I do wrong.  Maybe I stir too fast.  Maybe I'm too timid with the heat.  Whatever the case, making roux makes me feel like I'm going to have a panic attack, every time.  I've got to master this.  Any suggestions are welcomed.

Oh, the gumbo?  It was excellent.  Best gumbo I've ever made.  The poblano pepper and jalapeno made it lip tinglingly hot in just the right way.  The potato salad was a perfect accompaniment.  Donald Link mentions that he likes it in seafood gumbo, but it was delicious in the chicken andouille as well.  When all is said and done, I think that if I spend the next few years of my life figuring out how to perfect my roux technique on this gumbo recipe, it will be time well spent.

p.s.  I didn't use chicken on the bone for my gumbo, even though the recipe calls for it.  Kid Cayenne wouldn't have eaten it.  While I'm sure that using only boneless, skinless breast caused it to sacrifice in flavor, we didn't feel one bit deprived.  It was truly delicious.

p.p.s.  WHO DAT!


Kid Cayenne,  January 18, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

It was delicious!

Larry Mac January 18, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

I have never heard of potato salad alongside gumbo, but I am intrigued. Is it the type of thing I might find on my next trip to NO?

Anonymous,  January 18, 2010 at 2:41 PM  

Wish I could have been there - I would have eaten it up real good. Miss you and Kid Cayenne too!! -With Love from Nx3 in Austin

Lisa M,  January 18, 2010 at 2:56 PM  

It was great and I don't eat gumbo. I even had leftovers.. yum yum.

NOJuju January 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM  

@KidC, awww, thanks!

@Larry Mac, I'm pretty sure potato salad with gumbo is a country Cajun thing rather than a New Orleans city thing. I learned about way down in Houma which is practically in the toe of the Louisiana boot. Come visit and I'll find a place that will serve it to you properly. Or I'll make you some.

@Nx3, I miss you so much I can't stand it. Wish you were here.

NOJuju January 18, 2010 at 3:36 PM  

@Lisa M. Aww, you so sweet! Thank you.

Tim January 18, 2010 at 6:10 PM  

Wow, that looks great! I've only had good gumbo twice, once in NO at Mom's, and once in (of all the weird places) a bar in Salt Lake City.

If I come visit, will you make it for me?

LoveLSUTigers January 3, 2011 at 6:51 PM  

Even seasoned Louisiana cooks like me get the "roux angst" sometimes. I made the Rosemary, garlic, thyme smothered Pork Roast from the Real Cajun by Donald Link cookbook and I still fretted I would burn my roux before it was the color I needed.

So, in the interest of not having to start over at 8pm (with a hungry 14 year-old son), I stopped the roux when it was the color of a light penny. It was still absolutely delicious. My son's favorite meal has always been Shrimp Etoufee, but, he said this was even better than that.

I had the final part of the meat tonight, but, will eat rice and gravy with a salad for lunch tomorrow with french bread. The gravy is just that good.

I am orignally from Lafayette, Louisiana and my family settled there in the mid 1700's, so, I know my roux and my cajun recipes. The cookbook by Donald Link, Real Cajun, should be in everyone's cookbook library.

Too many folks think cajun means spicy. Not at all. It might be spicy, sometimes, depending on the dish. But, overall, Cajun food is savory and flavorful. A mardi gras party in the mouth!

Anonymous,  December 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM  

agree - donald link's cb (cook book) is the best -- as is potato salad -- making his pork for new years' dinner -- best - paulette perrien

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