adminDespite the fact that I don’t like seafood, I am still a huge fan of cajun cooking. There is something in Jambalaya that gives me hives. I have no idea what. Every time I have eaten it, my arms break out in hives. It is so weird. I’ll have to make it at some point. Maybe breaking it down will help me figure out the problem. Anyway, I am already going off topic.
We went to Reading Terminal Market a few times this weekend. I never knew there was a Cajun place there! Yum! They offered us tiny samples. We tried the Crawfish Etouffe and the Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. The Etouffe was decent. It had corn in it, so by default I think mine is better. It also seemed a bit thinner than mine. The Gumbo was great. Nice and tomato-y.
So after trying these delights, and inspired by the season premiere of True Blood, I decided to take on gumbo for dinner on Sunday night. This was my first time cooking gumbo, but it seemed fairly similar to etouffe, so I figured I could handle it. Turns out it is actually a bit simpler than the etouffe, only taking me about an hour and a half. Even with picture taking breaks. Not too shabby (and I am a slow chopper/slicer). After burning my mouth with excitement over the first couple bites, once I was really able to taste it, I realized it wasn’t very different from the etouffe. Yes, it was a bit simpler in ingredients, but the preparation was almost identical. The flavors were definitely different, but definitely in the same family. Does that even make sense? So I had to look it up. If you already know all this, good for you, but I am still learning.
So what I learned…. is that I wasn’t very wrong. They are almost identical. Etouffe is more traditionally a main dish that is thicker and heartier. It is normally made with shrimp or crawfish, but is sometimes made with chicken (like mine)! Gumbo is actually a soup. It can be served as a main dish, but it is still a soup. Traditionally, gumbo has chicken and andouille sausage as the meats (just like mine!). Ok, so far, I am making both dishes correctly. The other main difference though is the roux. From what I read, the etouffe is made with a blonde roux, which is made with butter and flour and is a light caramel color. Mine is close to this. I do use butter and flour. But I prefer a near peanut butter shade. Gumbo is made with a dark roux that is made with oil and flour. Mine had a little but of oil, but was primarily butter. All the recipes I saw differed with this step, so I stuck with butter, knowing what I was doing. I think this led to a bit of a thicker gumbo, which I am A.O.K. with. Oh! And Okra! There isn’t okra in etouffe. It was my first time using it and I have to say I am quite pleased.
I couldn’t find a recipe I was happy with in terms of preparation and ingredients combined. So I had to make my own. On a scale of 1-10, PTB ranked it an 8 (and the Etouffe a 9.5). Butter Chicken is his 10 rating. Back on topic! Time for the recipe!
What I Used
1.5 Tbsp Canola oil
3/4 lb chicken breast
3/4 lb andouille sausage
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
medium yellow onion, chopped
green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 fresh okra, sliced
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Really, I should like the vegetables as step one. Make sure you have them all chopped and ready to through into the pan before you start. Then cut all the meat into bite size pieces. Salt and pepper the chicken. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides (~5 min). Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil behind for the sausage. Add the sausage in, browning completely.
Once the sausage is browned and set aside, add the butter to the hot pan and melt. Once melted, whisk in the flour, and start to remove any brown bits on the pan. The butter and flour will blend to create your roux. It should become a perfect golden brown. Once it is, you can add all step three veggies and cook them until they begin to soften (~3 min).
Slowly stir in your broth. I did this in tiny increments using it to scrape up any remaining bits from the bottom of my pan (deglaze). Once the broth is combined, add your chicken back in, and then the sausage and step five ingredients.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over hot rice.
Serves: 6-8 Cost: ~$2/serving