Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe

 Just in case you need to make gumbo for over 100 people, this is the recipe for you!  Hopefully you never have to do this, it isn't as fun as it looks.  Since Mardi Gras is almost here, I thought the guys at the shelter might like a big ol' pot of gumbo.

 I found whole chickens for 86 cents per pound.  I bought and roasted 8 of them.

 Cooking like this takes lots of organization.  As I cut up the vegetables for the gumbo, I started a stock bowl on the side.  I tossed all of my onion, celery and pepper ends in it along with any extra fresh herbs.

 This is one of those huge restaurant bowls which I filled with diced onions, celery and green peppers. The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking.

 After the chickens cooked, I set them aside to cool a bit.

 I threw all of the vegetables and herbs into a huge pot.

 After I picked all of the meat off of the 8 chickens (over 2 hours of picking), I added the carcasses to the pot with the vegetables, added bay leaves and peppercorns, filled it with water and brought it all to a boil.  Then turned it down and let it simmer for hours.

 Then I tackled the roux.

 The roux is made up of equal portions of fat and flour.  I used vegetable oil.  I started it off cooking it over medium heat while I made the spice mix.

 The seasoning is a mix of granulated garlic and onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper, seasoned salt and celery salt.

 As the roux begins to darken, you have to keep whisking it to make sure it does not burn.

 It is ready when it is a dark chestnut color.  At this point, the roux is scorching hot. They call it Cajun napalm.

 I wrapped myself in my cooking burka and threw in half of the vegetables.  You really have to be careful because it really spits and sputters.

 It is quite beautiful though.

 This is when I switched over to my giant pot.

 I strained pan after pan of the solids from the stock and picked through them for more meat.

 More picking!  But it is worth it because I got almost the same amount as I picked off right after roasting.

 I ended up with three large bowls of chicken meat.

 I poured the stock through a sieve and added it all to the roux.  The I added the rest of the vegetables, all of the chicken meat and 10 pounds of kielbasa sausage.  I added some chicken bouillon for added flavor.  You can also add hot sauce depending on how hot you like it.  Though lots of the guys at the shelter like spicy food, some do not.  I felt so bad the other day when one of the guys told me that the cook always makes the food too spicy and he can rarely eat it.  He said when they make wings, he wipes them off with paper towels.  I felt so bad so I am careful to add lots of flavor but not much heat.  They can sprinkle in additional hot sauce if they want.

 My husband and I lugged the huge pot of gumbo out to the car.  Thankfully I thought to put thick newspaper down and sat the pot on it because I hit a small bump and some of it spilled.  Transporting food can be tricky.  I didn't want to take the cornbread yesterday because I wanted it to be fresh.  So, I got up early this morning and made 3 trays of it.  It was still hot when I delivered it this morning.  This makes for happy shelter guys!

 The gumbo actually looked much better than this but I was in a rush to take the photo.

 Plus it is being served with this huge volume of rice which I also made this morning.

I also made them a quadruple recipe of southern banana pudding.  These guys love their desserts and all they ever have is old, stale stuff that is donated to them after it expires.  I don't want to sound like I am preaching but it absolutely kills me that these guys have lost everything in their lives and all they can get is food that people are ready to throw out.  One of the guys at the shelter told me yesterday that the only time he sees any of these guys smiling is when I show up with food.  One of the guys that works there was ending his shift when I showed up this morning.  He told me he was coming back later to eat my lunch.