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Goody, Goody Gumbo

February 16, 2014

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Gumbo is the second dish I made with okra, which makes sense because somewhere along the etymological food chain the word for okra is gumbo. You can pop over to Wikipedia if you want the full story, but it was a new fact for me that I was glad to learn. I have cooked jambalaya, mixed up some chili, thrown together a stew, but until this week I don’t think I have ever made gumbo. I doubt it will be the last time.

I used a recipe from my go-to cook book, The Commonsense Kitchen. The author, Tom Hudgens, begins the recipe with a story about learning to make gumbo in New Orleans from his grandfather. I thought this boded well and I was not disappointed. The gumbo starts with a roux that uses oil instead of butter, which was a new one for me. The oil and flour quickly took on a golden hue and I added the finely chopped onions and celery. I don’t care for celery in soups when it is used as a filler, but in the gumbo it is used for the base and only adds flavor, not texture. Next I added the green bell pepper, another item I usually stay away from , but as soon as I added the diced pepper the kitchen smelled like gumbo is supposed to smell. Six cups of chicken broth, a few spices, some andouille sausage, and the okra finished the recipe. One thing I learned was to cook the sausage whole and then cut it up right before serving. This kept the juices in the sausage and made a noticeable difference. The gumbo had some nice heat to it (probably from the red pepper flakes and dash of Penzeys Cajun spice mix I added), but it wasn’t overly spicy.

The last okra recipe I made was the classic, Fried Okra. Of course fried okra requires a meal of southern comfort food to surround it. I made chicken fried steak using round steak and a batter or butter milk and flour. The gravy and black eyed peas are store bought, but the corn bread is from scratch. Everything was delicious and I had to restrain myself from having seconds on everything.

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This restraint paid off and I made my weight loss goal for the week. (Running 11 miles this weekend probably didn’t hurt.)

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