CHICKEN + ANDOUILLE GUMBO – A New Orleans staple. Because the rest of our bridal lunch menu is filled with seafood, we chose a chicken and andouille sausage version as our main course.
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs w/ skin
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
3/4 cup finely chopped celery vegetable oil for frying the chicken
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups of high-quality chicken stock
1/2 pound raw andouille sausage, casings removed, cut into 1/2-inch bites salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1. Dry the chicken thighs thoroughly. Rub them down with a generous amount of salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper on all sides. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the onions, bell peppers, and celery; set aside.
3. In a large heavy skillet heat 1-1/2 inches of oil until very hot (375° to 400°). Fry the chicken thighs, in batches, until golden brown on all sides and meat is cooked, about 5-6 minutes per side; drain on paper towels.
4. Carefully pour the hot oil into a glass bowl, leaving as many of the browned particles in the pan as possible. Scrape the pan bottom with a metal whisk to loosen any stuck particles, then return 1/2 cup of the hot oil to the pan.
5. Place the pan over high heat. Using a long-handled metal whisk, gradually stir in the 1/2 cup of flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is the color of dark chocolate, about 3-1/2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Remove from the heat and immediately add the vegetable mixture, stirring constantly until the roux stops getting darker. Return the pan to low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the pan bottom well.
6. Meanwhile, heat the stock over medium heat in a separate saucepan. Add the hot stock to the roux, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the andouille and minced garlic. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring often.
7. While the gumbo is simmering, cut the cooked chicken into 1/2 inch bites. When the gumbo has simmered for 45 minutes, add the chicken and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with a scoop of Baked Rice mounded in the middle of the bowl.
CRAB SALAD-STUFFED AVOCADOS - serves 8 as an appetizer
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp finely chopped green onions 2 tsp capers, drained and chopped 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat salt, freshly-ground black pepper
4 ripe avocados, cut in half
1. Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, capers, and celery together. Gently fold in the crab, making sure to evenly distribute the mayonnaise mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Fill the avocado halves with crab salad and serve immediately.
OYSTERS - Served simply, on the half-shell with a squeeze of lemon. Provide crackers and cocktail sauce for those wary of slurping straight from the shell.
BAKED RICE - makes 6 cups, enough for 2 batches of gumbo
2 cups uncooked rice (not instant)
2-1/2 cups high-quality chicken stock
1-1/2 tbsp very finely chopped onions
1-1/2 tbsp very finely chopped celery
1-1/2 tbsp very finely chopped red bell peppers
1-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
In a 5x9x2.5 loaf pan, combine all ingredients and mix well. Seal pan snugly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350° until the rice is tender, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Serve immediately.