Saturday, February 28, 2009

Possibly the best gumbo I've ever made

Top Chef came to New Orleans and the contestants of course had to make gumbo. One chose duck and andouille, and that made me think that I'd never done a duck gumbo. So over Mardi Gras I picked up a duck, some andouille and a pint of good P&J oysters.

The duck was the wild card and I found several recommendations on how to prepare it - boil it in a stock, braise it. I don't like the current practice of serving duck medium rare, so after quartering the duck, I braised it, put it on the rack in a roasting pan with celery and onion, and roasted it for an hour. I deglazed that pan and put the duck and juices in a stock pot with celery, onion, fresh bay, s&p, and let that turn into a wonderful stock that I then kept overnight.

The next day, I prepared my creole mirapois (the holy trinity): onions, celery, and peppers, along with some garlic and the andouille.

And prepared a roux. It turned out to be the best roux I've made in many years, probably since I was cooking professionally. I stirred it for 45 minutes, until it would simply get no darker.

The duck stock was warming on another burner the whole time, and it drove Peewee crazy. Please give me the duck! I want the duck.

Once the roux hit a deep, dark brick red, I took it off the fire and added a cup of trinity. It went a shade darker, to deep brown, as the vegetables practically melted into the Cajun napalm.

After that, it all came together nicely. I strained and ladeled in warm stock, added the rest of the vegetables and sausage, the shredded duck.

While that simmered for an hour or so, I made rice and yams, and finally added the oysters.

The final product (don't forget the filé on top!)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Winter is Seafood Season

I splurged on good, jumbo lump blue crab meat from the Gulf tonight. $25 for a pound, but it was worth it. We enjoyed it on a salad of mache, romaine and shaved fennel, with celery, green onions and tomato. Remoulade topped it off. There are a few nice Gulf shrimp in there, too. Boiled in Zatarains, of course.

All because its Carnival Time!

Every year, the elementary school a block away does a practice run for their Mardi Gras marching. I was grading papers and C. was working but we managed to make it out to the porch and enjoy the marching band, and the kids in costumes throwing beads.

It's become a harbinger of Carnival for us; a normal work day suddenly includes the sound of horns and drums in the distance. Voices add to the mix, then the sound of lots of feet. It's a gift! Carnival comes right to us.

A good season in New Orleans

Shopping a week ago and saw this sign of the times - lemons, potatoes, garlic and Zatarains. Time to eat crawfish.