First You Make A Roux

We had the most wonderful Chanukah / New Year Day party last night! We got and gave lots of great presents, supper was awesome, and we all laughed and giggled all night.

Everything we made last night turned out really great. We started with a chicken and beef sausage gumbo, then had lamb chops, collards, black-eyed peas, deviled eggs, and latkes, and for dessert I made cupcakes and Southern sufganiyot – beignets.

The best thing I made for supper was my chicken and beef sausage gumbo.

First, you start with a roux, and this gumbo needs a dark roux (the pic below is about 75% of the way there). The dark roux is 3/4 c. vegetable oil and 1 c. flour (I always use White Lily). Heat the oil until it’s very hot, then add the flour little by little until it’s all incorporated. Put the heat down to medium-high, and keep stirring – you have to stir the entire time, no stopping for anything. The roux starts out an ivory color, and several minutes later, when you’re sick of stirring, it will change to tan, light brown, brown, and when it starts to look like the shade of a Hershey bar, take it off the heat, stir for a while longer, and you’re done. The roux will be about 8 zillion degrees hot, though, so be super careful when you pour it into a bowl to use a bit later.
First, You Make A Roux...
Here are the ingredients for my chicken and beef sausage gumbo:

2 cans chicken stock (or if you have homemade, same amount, even better)
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
okra – as many or as few as you like, chopped
1 package beef polish sausage, chopped into small bite-size pieces
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small bite-size pieces
the roux (above)
cayenne, black pepper, and salt to taste
rice (cook separately, for serving with the gumbo)

* Saute the chicken in a little oil, cook and set aside in bowl.
* Saute the beef sausage in a little oil, cook and set aside in bowl.
* Saute onion, bell pepper, okra, and celery until onion starts browning. Add chicken and sausage back to the pot.
* Pour chicken stock into pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer. Season well.
* Add the roux a bit at a time so it gets incorporated easily. Bring that to a boil, then simmer for about an hour so that the flavors get more concentrated. Stir several times over the course of the hour.
* Serve over rice.
Yum! This was a *huge* hit.

Av made the lamb chops with a rosemary/parsley/garlic rub, and it was great, as were the latkes he made. I made the black-eyed peas and the collard greens. The collards were sooooo good…that Av even liked him (I would have encouraged him to have them anyway, since traditionally you eat black-eyed peas on New Year Day for coins in the new year, and collard greens for cash)!

Here’s how I made the collard greens:
1 package beef bacon, chopped into good-size pieces
2 red onions, chopped into good-size pieces
1-2 cans chicken broth (homemade is even better)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 bunch collard greens (I just fold each leaf in half and tear them that way, by hand – the ribs are thrown out)
salt, pepper, brown sugar, cayenne to taste

In a big pot, add all the bacon, and cook until done but not yet crispy.
Add onions to pot and cook them through.
Add the broth, vinegar, and collards (I just tear the leaves right over the pot)
Season with the salt/pepper/brown sugar/cayenne once it’s cooked a while.
Put the pot down to simmer, and let them cook however long you like – some people like them more firm (30 minutes or so), but I cook them for two or three hours, because I like them really soft and delicate.

Everything was *so* great, and we had a nice time covering the living room in giftwrap taken off all the presents. I’ve still got four more loads of dishes to do, but after such a great time I sure don’t mind! BTW, I spent all day cooking to my new cd, the Our New Orleans 2005, A Benefit Album. It has Allen Toussaint singing ‘Yes We Can Can’ (I can listen to that ALL DAY LONG!), Preservation Hall Jazz Band (doing ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans’), Davell Crawford, Dr. John, Buckwheat Zydeco, Irma Thomas, Wild Magnolias, Randy Newman – who we saw in concert a couple of months ago – doing ‘Louisiana’, and a bunch of others. It’s at Amazon here.

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Day, and to all my friends and everyone that reads my blog, I hope that every single one of your wishes for 2006 come true.

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