Yankee Gumbo

Food has long been a source of nostalgia for me.

There’s something about the sensory experience that brings forth a powerful sense of time and place.

Of course, I’m not alone in this. I have my sundried tomato bread, among other things. Proust, famously, had his madelines. And, my friend Lauren who originally hails from New Orleans, has her gumbo.

Lucky for me, she decided to have some friends over for a huge pot, teaching us how to make it in the process. We helped in our own ways—in my case, making Pimm’s Cups, catching up until we we distracted by the smells coming from the kitchen. It’s safe to say that everyone there went back for a second helping when the gumbo was ready.

I left inspired, ready to tackle my own version. I incorporated andouille (made with chicken, no not quite authentic, I’m afraid) for added flavor and vinegar for an acidic punch at the end. Far from traditional, I’m sure, but filling and delicious all the same. Call it a Yankee version, if you will.

It’s funny, the way nostalgia works. As I started making the roux, I was suddenly back in my mother’s kitchen on a snowy day, much like the ones that seem to be happening so often this winter, alongside her while she made her potato soup. Her roux was blonder, and the soup was much lighter, but it was still the perfect thing for a cold day, much like this one.

Yankee Gumbo

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup flour
2 medium onions, diced
1/4 cup chopped leeks (white part only)
1 cup chopped celery
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TSB paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 to 8 cups chicken stock (optional. water would work here, too)
1 can whole diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the chicken with a tsp of flour, dash of paprika, salt and pepper.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil and all it to reach a high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and heat for 1 minute. Add the andouille sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and much of the fat is rendered. Add the chicken and sautee until the chicken has browned. Remove the sausage and chicken to a seperate dish with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Add the remainder of the flour and paprika to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, in order to form a roux. Continue stirring until the roux is a dark golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the onions, celery, and leeks to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook about 2 minutes.

At this point, add your stock, bay leaves, diced tomatoes and accompanying juice. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and sausage to the point, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered 25 to 30 minutes, until the soup has thickened and the chicken is fully cooked.

Add red wine vinegar and Tabasco and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice.

Serves 6-8

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Filed under Meat, Soup

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