Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sunday Ribs

This weekend I made some ribs. Harris Teeter had a sale of buy one get one free on ribs and I couldn't resist. I decided to try a different rub that had a Moroccan flavor to it. The rub smelled good and I thought it would work well but I was mistaken.

Don't get me wrong, the ribs weren't awful they just weren't up to my usual standards. The rub had fennel in it. I am not a fan of fennel and neither are pork ribs. The family enjoyed them but commented that they were not as good as the ones I usually make.

The ribs waiting for the grill

The ribs cooking.

Almost ready to come off after being glazed with sauce.

The final ribs.

Lesson learned: avoid rubs with fennel for ribs and pork.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Smokin' Gumbo

This week is our ASC fund raiser at work. One of the annual traditions for it is a chili cook off. Last year I entered and won. So, of course this year I had to defend the title. The theme of the fund raiser this year is Mardis Gras, so, of course, the food was to be Cajun or Creole.

I tossed around a few ideas and decided to make a gumbo using smoked chicken, smoked andouille sausage and smoked peppers. The only gumbo I have ever made has been a quick version that I don't really think qualifies as gumbo but more as a soup.

I went online and searched for a recipe to use and found one on Food Network. It is one of Emeril Lagasse's gumbo recipes. I used the main part of it but altered it to suit my needs and style of cooking. 

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped Roasted bell pepper
1 pound smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound smoked chicken removed from the bones.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Combine the oil and flour in a large stock pot over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Stir until the roux mixture and water are well combined. Bring to aboil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Add smoked chicken. Simmer for 2 hours. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley and green onions. Remove the bay leaves and serve in deep bowls over rice.

How I did it
That is the recipe I used. I made my stock also and smoked my chicken, sausage and peppers which bring a nice flavor to the mix. I followed the above directions after I had smoked my meat and peppers.

I butterflied the chicken and took the backs, necks and gizzards, put them into the stock pot and covered them with water, chopped celery, garlic, onions slat and pepper and brought it all to a boil. I then put the lid on  and let it simmer over medium heat while I cooked the meats and peppers (about two hours).

Butterflied Chickens

Chicken stock cooking

I smoked the chicken as I talked about in my "Smoked Chicken" entry. It took about two hours for it to be ready. I added the andouille to the smoker about half way through so it would cook for an hour. 

The smokin' meats

Done cookin'

I let the chicken cool down and then carved it. As I carved the meat off the bones I added the bones and some of the skin to the stock. It gave it that extra punch of flavor. 

Once that was all done I strained the stock into another bowl so I wouldn't have any chunks in the broth. I then started the roux. Roux takes time, but is worth it to make it right. It is not difficult but you do need to watch it carefully so it doesn't get too dark, too quick.

The roux

After the roux was done I added the "Holy Trinity" onions, celery and the roasted peppers.

The roux and the trinity

Then the andouille sausage was added.

Marrying the flavors

Once it was all combined I added the stock and let it simmer. 

Flavors combining into a happy mess.

After simmering for an hour gumbo and the chicken was combined and it simmered for another two hours with the flavors getting all happy.

Ready to serve.

I made the gumbo on Saturday for our Thursday event so the family taste tested it to make sure it was all good. This also allowed the gumbo to sit in the fridge to let the flavors get more integrated. 

The final product

Thursday I served it all up and ended up tying for first place. It was a good time and good food. I would make this dish again just because the flavors are so good.