Saturday, February 21, 2015

Margaret's New Orleans Gumbo

While I was in college I went to New Orleans, working with the Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project to build an arts center in the Lower Ninth Ward.  It was an amazing experience, and I made sure to eat and drink my way through the culture while I was there.  My favorite food by far had to be the gumbo, followed closely by the beans and rice (beignets from Cafe Du Monde don't count...that would be unfair).  I actually forgot about gumbo until recently when I saw a clip on the news of this year's Mardi Gras celebrations.  I was instantly transported back to the spicy, stewy, burst-in-your-mouth flavor of New Orleans gumbo!

Now this isn't your classic New Orleans gumbo.  I wouldn't dream that I could cook that well, and as I have a shellfish allergy I had to modify the proteins involved.  This is my take on one of my favorite dishes the amazing city of New Orleans has to offer.  It is filled with spicy andoullie sausage, juicy chicken thighs, peppers, celery, onion, and lots of spices.  I topped it off with buttery cauliflower rice instead of traditional white rice.  Less carbs, calories, and more veggies.  I'm always down for that.

This makes the perfect winter meal as it's both warm and spicy.  It's impossible to be cold (or hungry) after eating a bowl of gumbo!

Margaret's New Orleans Gumbo

For the gumbo:
1 lb andoullie sausage, sliced thin
2 lb organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 bell peppers (I used red, orange, yellow)
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp grassfed butter
1 cup chopped celery
2-3 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp tomato paste
3 bay leaves
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt + more to taste
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper*
black pepper, to taste

For the cauliflower rice:
1 small head cauliflower, riced
2 galric cloves, minced
2 Tbsp grassfed butter
salt and pepper, to taste

*if you don't like spicy, start with 1/4 cayenne pepper and wait to add more until the end, when you can taste to see how spicy it is.

1. Add the butter and diced onions to a large pot.  Saute them over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.  Stir in the spices (paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper).
3. Carefully add the meat to the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the meat is about 3/4 way cooked.   Then add the vegetables and tomato paste and finish cooking the meat.
4. When the meat is cooked, add the chicken broth (start with about a cup and slowly add more until desired consistency is reached) and the bay leaves.  Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover for at least 30 minutes.
5. About 15 minutes before you eat, you can make the cauliflower rice.  Add the butter and minced garlic to a pan (large enough to fit all the riced cauliflower), and saute it until golden brown over medium heat.
6. Add the riced cauliflower and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes before turning the heat down to low and covering the cauliflower.  Stir every 2-3 minutes, checking the tenderness of the cauliflower. They rice should be tender within 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper before serving.