Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gumbo Is Good for the Soul

To preface this post, I'd like to say that this morning, I found a whole, unopened can of soup in the fridge. I put there last night when I was prepping today's lunch. Absent-mindedness may follow.

I've been craving gumbo for nigh on a month, so when I finally had a Saturday afternoon free, I jumped on it. Gumbo is always better the longer you stew it, and I find that it's even better the next day, when the flavors have had even more time to intermingle.

I adapted this recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (you know, the one with the red-checkered background). In my version, I used Penzeys Cajun seasoning, which I found is a little too sweet for my taste, at least in large quantities. I'd go lighter on that next time, which is reflected in the recipe. I also used bacon grease (from CSA bacon) for the oil because I had some on hand. And because humane, local meat juice is tasty.

I'm not a bad vegetarian. I'm a smart one.

Vegetarian Gumbo
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. cooking oil
1/2 c. chopped onion (1 medium)
1/2 c. chopped celery (2-3 stalks)
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Habanero sauce (such as Tabasco) to taste
2 c. veggie broth
1 pkg. Smart Sausages, smoked style, sliced
1 c. frozen okra
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

In a large pot, whisk flour and oil together until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook another 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture will darken; this is the roux. (It's important not to burn this.)

Stir in all veggies (except the okra) and the peppers, including habanero sauce. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or till veggies are crisp-tender.

Gradually add the broth, sausage, bay leaves, and Cajun seasoning. Cover and simmer as long as possible (at minimum 15 minutes). Add okra and simmer for another 15. Discard bay leaves. Serve over brown rice.

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