Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Just so yall know...I've been run over by something. Something humongous. I don't know what it was. Fever, chills, body name it. I've had it over the last week. Thankfully, I'm recovering. I'm going to live. If I lived anywhere else, chicken soup may have been the answer but down here in just what the good doctor ordered to chase away that fonk that has been plaguing my house this week. I hope yall don't get the fonk but if you do, you might just want to try this recipe. It'll cure all that ails ya. I guarantee!

First you boil you up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in chicken broth (not water!). Spice it up with some Tony's seasoning. It's got all the cayenne, salt, pepper and all the other seasoning you need all in one little green can. Now, my little Cajun mother-in-law (we'll call her Maw Maw from here on out) uses chicken with bones and skin. But that's just plain out ole gross but you do what you like. Don't say I didn't warn you though. Once it's all done, cut up the bird into pieces. Next, cut up some link sausage and fry it up in your iron skillet. Set it aside. Don't throw out the chicken broth or the drippings from your sausage. It's going to be smelling purdy darned good about now.

Now that your meat is done, take your big old gumbo pot and put a little oil in the bottom. Now I use olive oil. Now Maw Maw...her...she thinks it has to be vegetable oil. Doesn't matter that olive oil is healthier. No. It's been this way for 100 some odd years and she's been making gumbo for seventy of them. Who am I to argue? Anyway, I digress. I love Louisiana cooking but I do tend to avoid intentionally adding enough grease to squeeze a hog through a keyhole. Back to the recipe, once you heat that oil in the gumbo pot, you add in some flour. Stir it up real good. Stir. Stir. Stir. It's going to start getting brown. This is a roux. You got to be careful that you don't let it burn. Stir! Once you get it good and brown but not burnt, add about a cupful of the broth. Not too much yet but enough to keep the roux from smoking up the house.

Then you add the "blessed trinity" that is chopped onion, peppers, and celery. This is a staple used in practically everything Louisiana cooks make. Now, you can stand there at that counter for an hour, chopping, and crying like my precious little Maw Maw or you can go to the freezer and take out a bag of frozen seasoning mix. If you read the ingredients, it says..."onions, peppers, and celery." That is the "blessed trinity." Try to tell that to Maw Maw. Want a smaller butt? Well, after the butt chewing lecture you get after trying to make that point, you'll have one. I try to have the "blessed trinity" debate anytime my jeans start filling out. Okay stir some more and some more. It ought to be smelling good enough to eat about now. Add a little more Tony's for taste.

Okay. Now you can scrape your sausage drippings in the pot and stir that in. Then start adding the broth to the gumbo pot by the cupful until you've added it all. Stir. Stir. Stir. You will never get the burnt gumbo smell out of your kitchen so don't let it happen. I'm telling yall. Listen to me. Stir! Then you put the chicken and sausage into the gumbo pot and you guessed it...STIR! Let it boil and then turn it down to simmer til you are ready to eat. Taste to see if you have enough Tony's in it. That's something only you can decide. For me, it hard to get too much Tony's. But that's me.

Now, at this point, I'm going to tell you what my Maw Maw would do. I don't recommend it. But you do what you want to. She gets her gumbo to boiling. Then she drops raw eggs into it. They boil up real fast and look like white, rubbery things floating in your gumbo. Plain ole disgusting. But hey, some people like white, rubbery things floating in their gumbo. Not me. People down here eat it up. To me, eggs are good with cheese, not gumbo. Thank you very much.

There's nothing better than sitting down to supper with gumbo and rice sprinkled with file', cracklin' cornbread, and baked sweet potatoes to chase away a flu and just plain ole make life better. Shoot...I can just taste it now...and I'm feeling better already.