Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review: Martha's Half-Hour Chicken Gumbo

Even though I’m admittedly a big fan of Martha Stewart, I have a love/hate relationship with her recipes. Some work, some don’t, and I know I’m in good company with my success, or lack thereof. I vividly remember making a Cranberry Upside-Down Cake recipe of hers twice, back-to-back, determined to beat the thing into submission before giving up. After it failed the second time, I threw in the towel; I just wasn’t willing to waste any more expensive ingredients to make the recipe again. That being said, I have had decidedly better success with recipes from her Everyday Food magazine and cookbook.

Since my sister had her baby, when I see them, I try to make an extra meal to give them, just to make things a bit easier. This time, with an eye to keeping things easy on a crazy holiday weekend, when I spied the recipe for Martha’s Half-Hour Chicken Gumbo in the current issue of Everyday Food, it sounded like just the ticket. Effortless to pull off, the recipe takes quite a bit of help from precooked items, like rotisserie chicken and pre-cooked sausages, which is quite the departure from a more standard, all-afternoon recipe that Martha would do in her main magazine or regular cookbooks.

So, the all important question … did the recipe work?

For the most part, yes. I needed a bit more oil to keep the roux going enough to get the vegetables to the right point, and after taste-testing it at the end, I felt it was missing something. To me, the recipe just seemed to lack an overall oomph of flavor. I added in a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes, which seemed to help. I meant to add a dash or four of hot sauce at the end, but forgot. Did the tomatoes help enough to make this a wow recipe? No. But they definitely added a little more flavor, and enough that The Husband polished off our entire portion of the gumbo. And hey, it made for an easy dinner, and some days, that just has to be enough.

Half-Hour Chicken Gumbo
Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food
Rely on rotisserie chicken, smoked spicy sausage, and frozen okra from the store to stack up flavors in our quick rendition of a classic Cajun stew.

Total: 30 mintues (this was spot-on)
Serves 4

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower (I needed a bit more oil)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen cut okra
8 ounces smoked (precooked) andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1 inch thick
1 rotisserie chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin and bones removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)
Store-bought or homemade cornbread, for serving (optional)
I added one can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium. Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, onion, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 4 cups water; stir in okra and sausage. Bring to a boil. Stir in shredded chicken, and warm through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; if desired, serve with cornbread.


Lela Davidson said...

That's funny, I re-named this recipe 1 Hour Gumbo, because if you count the time to take the meat off the chicken and cook the sausage.... However, my kids LOVED it (probably because it was a little on the bland side). It's a keeper and sitting in a sheet protecter in my recipe notebook. Who knew kids would eat okra? Amazing!

Abbey said...

It's strange that the gumbo was lacking flavor...when I think of gumbo I only think FLAVOR!!