I had a whole chicken and shrimp in the freezer and that, along with refrigerated odds and ends, sounded like gumbo to me. Problem is, my file gumbo powder is in Sens and I have never made gumbo with okra, nor have I wanted to. So I decided to make a gumbo-like stew. Don’t worry Loo-siana people, I know a gumbo when I make it.
I was concerned about the German suppenhuhn or soup chicken. Did that mean I’d have to boil it for hours to separate the bones from the meat, ending up with stringy chicken?
Refusing to be intimidated and pretending it was just like any other chicken, I assembled my poaching ingredients.
Still, after browning the chicken pieces, I did wonder about the average age of a suppenhuhn.
And after 40 minutes of “poaching”, the chicken was still firmly attached to its bones. An hour and a half it took; use a regular chicken. And now a completely gratuitous picture of my new avocado colored tajine, the replacement for my manila colored tajine that was cracked on the apartment’s K-Mart quality electric stove. Lovely :)
Another reason this is not real gumbo is that I didn’t have andouille or a similar smoked sausage. I wanted to substitute with chorizo but the super nice lady behind the meat counter handed me an Italian dried salami, assuring me that it was chorizo. Politely I said I thought chorizo came from Spain. But she assured me that Italy and Spain were interchangeable. Not wanting to embarrass us further, I just took the salami :) It was okay, it gave the faux gumbo a sort of “que sera sera”, whatever, Mediterranean twist.
This was NOT gumbo but it was a very good stew. I’ll probably repeat this in the future.
1 regular chicken, quartered
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3-4 celery tops with leaves
1 large onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves, quartered
2 tsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 cup white wine
8-12 cups water
2/3 cup flour
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 smoke sausages or chorizo, sliced
2 tbsp Emeril’s essence
2 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1lb shrimp, shelled and cleaned
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with Emeril’s essence and rub in. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil, remove and put into a large pot with the celery tops and the quartered onion, garlic cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, white wine and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove the chicken, allow it to cool, then remove the skin and bones, coarsely shredding the meat. Set the chicken meat aside. Strain the broth and reserve.
Add the flour to the pan and oil you used for the chicken and make a roux by constantly stirring the flour on low heat until it turns a dark brown. Add the chopped onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the smoked sausage, the Emeril’s essence, tomato paste, salt, pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Slowly add 8-10 cups of the reserved broth to the mixture, stirring, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved chicken meat and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Bring the stew to a boil, stir in the shrimp, boil for 1 minute then remove from flame. Allow the stew to rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve over rice and sprinkle with sliced scallions.
Wine suggestion: Chianti :)