Good for the Soul Gumbo

or this Northern girl's take on a Louisiana classic

Well, here it is - my 100th post!!! (cue the balloons, streamers, Chinese lanterns, and celebratory music)  I know, I know, I should have hit it last year at the latest but I am still thrilled to reach this milestone and to have each and every one of you along for the ride.  I truly appreciate your interest in my thoughts and recipes whether this is your first visit or you are a regular viewer.  To me recipes are to be shared and not hidden away as "secret" so the original cook is the only one who can make them "just right."  Inspiration comes from many sources and whenever I can recall who or what inspires me I do my best to credit the source, though often I take bits and pieces from friends, the web, and various books so it is hard to trace.  I hope that you are enjoying the recipes that I am sharing here and are able to make them your own by adding the flavors and ingredients that you love because that is where food and cooking really come to life.

I thought about what may be an appropriate recipe to share that properly celebrates reaching this milestone and one practically sprung to mind - Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.  This is one of my husband's new favorite dishes, it even ranks right up there with Shepherd's Pie and I thought nothing could possibly reach that level.  This dish is a labor of love.  It is not a quick weeknight meal for us but rather one to savor from the moment the vegetables are sauteing until the last bowl of leftovers has been enjoyed.  It just makes you feel good when you are eating it and warms you from the inside out.

I learned a base for gumbo in a cooking class so I used that basic technique for the process, then I adjusted the seasonings and ingredients to fit our tastes.  I have no idea how true this is to what is traditionally considered to be gumbo, but I highly suspect that mine lacks the strength of spice that is used so if you are used to more spice you may want to adjust it to taste and can expect to have to add a fair amount.  We love it just as it is.  Here is how this northern girl takes on gumbo:

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

8 tbsp (1 stick) of butter
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup cut or medium dice celery
1/2 cup cut or medium dice carrots
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 tsp fresh minced garlic
8 tbsp flour
1 tsp Gumbo file
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp house seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes (12 oz)
8 cups chicken stock
2 fully cooked boneless chicken breasts
9 oz Kielbasa (about 2/3 of a 14 oz package)
1/4 - 1/3 cup very small dice mixed bell peppers
1-2 cups cooked rice

Hardware: dutch oven or large stock pot
Time investment: 1 hr 30 min

1. Melt butter in the bottom of the pot with the oil (to help prevent burning). Add celery, carrots, and onions. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

2. Add in the flour, mixing well, and continue to cook until the roux becomes a medium brown (you will need to stir frequently, being careful not to burn). Approximately 7-8 min.

3. Season with Gumbo File, minced garlic, Cajun spices, and Top Secret. Blend spices into the roux.

4. Add the tomatoes, and then stir in the chicken stock until evenly blended. Continue to simmer for at least 45-50 min

5. Add in the cooked chicken breast, kielbasa, and peppers.  Stir to combine.  Heat for an additional 15 min, then turn the temperature down to low and cover to keep warm until ready to serve. Stir in the cooked rice before serving or place in the bottom of the bowls before pouring the gumbo over top.

Serve with fresh cornbread or biscuits.

I don't have a picture, I am sorry.  Every time I make it I forget until after we have eaten it all.  Hopefully I will remember next time and be able to add one for you all!

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