Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hey Everybody, I Made Gumbo!

For a while, Julia was into watching and re-watching certain movies over and over again. There was a Barbie & A Mermaid Tale phase and a Hunchback of Notre Dame phase (that was weird). For years, she seemed impervious to having seen any TV program already. She would always watch it again, whatever it was.

Now there's a Liv and Maddie on the DVR, but she's already seen that one. Forget Good Luck Charlie because they aren't making those anymore. We wait for new stuff even if it means not watching TV. It's a big change, my little girl is growing up!

But long ago when Princess & the Frog was the movie of choice, Julia asked me to make gumbo.

"I don't think you would like gumbo," I said. See how encouraging of new food choices I can be?

"Yes. I would like it," she says.

I looked for a gumbo recipe. I really did. But all of them called for making a roux and as I pointed out before, I didn't think I could do that. I didn't know what that was. Also, I'm fundamentally opposed to purchasing ingredients that I'll only ever use in one dish. That means no jalapenos and no hot sauce. I still have a packet of tapioca in the pantry from breaking this rule. I've never figured out what to do with the rest of that tapioca.

The easy way out of the Princess Tiana Gumbo Debacle was to purchase a certain pre-packaged gumbo mix. This particular company used to advertise during Wheel of Fortune when I was a kid. I don't know if they still have the same commercial, but I can remember their ad quite clearly.

The mix was terrible. It produced some kind of tasteless gray broth. None of us could eat it.

"See. Told you that you wouldn't like gumbo!"

Thinking back, perhaps I have some apologies to make for destroying my young child's sense of food adventure. Time passed, I learned not to fear the roux, and I found a gumbo recipe that I thought I could handle.

This is not that recipe.

I'm not sure what specifically makes something a "gumbo," but I don't like much spice in my food and I do not like Okra. So here's my non-gumbo gumbo:

Ingredients for chicken, kielbasa gumbo.

Jo's Special (Fake) Gumbo

3- Chicken Breasts cooked and sliced into thin strips
Olive Oil
1- Green Pepper diced
2- Celery Sticks diced
*1- small onion
*4- cloves of garlic
1- package kielbasa thinly sliced
1- cup frozen spinach
1- can diced tomatoes juice and all
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
Bay leaf
Dash of Italian Seasoning
Crushed Red Pepper (to taste)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Saute chicken in about two Tablespoons of olive oil until it's almost cooked through. Add green pepper, celery, and kielbasa with a little more oil. Salt & pepper to taste. Continue to cook until the green pepper and celery are tender but not mushy. (You know how you like them to be.) Transfer everything to a crock pot. Add spinach and diced tomatoes.

Then, you could even use the same pan, melt the butter and mix in the flour. Stir until smooth and creamy. Add three cups of chicken broth or three bullion cubes dissolved in three cups of water. Stir until the broth thickens. Add this mixture to the crock pot along with a Bay leaf, Italian seasoning or whatever herbs you enjoy, and a bit of crushed red pepper**. Simmer for at least 30 minutes or until dinner time.

Serve over a bed of rice.

*Most people would add the onion and garlic to this recipe because they are delicious. I have stopped eating onions and garlic. I've been much happier and to be honest, I don't miss them in recipes like that. My taste buds might be that dull. Add the onion and garlic while you're sauteing. Make them translucent and all that good stuff.

**Put in some jalapenos and hot sauce instead of the wimpy red pepper flakes if you must. I used three palm fulls of crushed red pepper. 

Two out of three Rescinitis agree that this is delicious. I enjoy announcing, "Hey everybody, I made gumbo!!!" (You'll get that after you watch The Princess & The Frog.) Julia (that critical third Resciniti) is probably going to need therapy to ever enjoy this dish. Her actual comments were "it would be good without all of the spice" and "I like your rice, but your gumbo stinks. It actually does. It stinks."

So there you go. Stinky Gumbo. You're welcome!