Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Tore My Rotator Cuff Making Roux

I tore my rotator cuff making roux
The whisks were more than a few
It cooked for an hour
I required a shower
To clean my sausage for the stew.

I’ve attempted, successfully I might add, to make a gumbo on only three occasions. The first two were magnificent. The third (last week), was acceptable, but not up to my expectations. The first two were for tailgating at Georgia games, and included some interesting ingredients. The last was during the family mountain trip on the night assigned to Laura and me for dinner. I got no complaints from the adults, but I was completely disappointed with the final product.

The History
Round 1, I made a stock with chicken, whole crawfish, and shrimp shells, along with the customary root vegetables (onion, leeks, carrots), peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme. It was a 4-hour stock, and was delicious. For the gumbo, I included chicken, andouille sausage, and some quail that my good buddy Danny Newman shot. Quite good.

Round 2 involved making a brown chicken stock (chicken browned in the oven and then simmered on the range with leeks, carrots, onions, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns) and a seafood stock (shrimp shells and crab leg shells). The gumbo included chicken, andouille sausage, crawfish tails (meat only), and alligator sausage. Again, this was good.

Round 3 involved the same brown chicken stock above, no seafood stock was used. The gumbo included chicken and andouille, both of which were browned in the oven. Here’s where I made the mistake. In round one and two, the chicken was brown, but the sausage was not. I was using an unfamiliar stove, and left the sausage to brown while I had a glass of wine and walked to the nearby raging river (this was in the TN mountains) to relax. We came back early to check the sausage only to realize it was overcooked. I knew better than to leave it, but needed to relax for a while. Lesson Learned: Never leave your sausage unattended (I know – “that’s what she said!”).

Now, about that roux. I make roux scared. Not that I scare the roux. It scares me, cause I’ve read too many gumbo recipes that say “if ya see black specks while makin’ yer roux, throw that mess out – iss dun burnt up.” Since I like the dark variety, it takes quite a while on low(er) heat. I could crank it up and get it done in about 25 minutes. On low(er) it takes close to an hour. Hence the rotator cuff incident. When “they” say stir constantly, “they” ain’t kiddin’. You never put your whisk down. Or your roux paddle. Yeah, I never heard of one either. There's a crawfish paddle and a gumbo paddle too. BS if you ask me, but here's a link if you are interested - http://www.cajunbrands.com/proddetail.asp?prod=KMays%2DPaddles&cat=103.
My roux has a wonderful nutty aroma and flavor, and has the color of the bottom of the Guinness foam layer, just before it hits the liquid layer. It has lost most of its thickening power at this point, but it adds a wonderful flavor to the gumbo. Without it, Round 3 would have been hassenpfeffer without the rabbit.



OG said...

I've got some pictures of a gumbo that I made recently. It's a challenge to not overcook your meat products, and I haven't been the best at that. One thing I do have figured out, though, is the roux. I'll post some pictures showing the progression from white to blonde to red to brown to scary goodness. The other option is to put your dutch oven in the stove and set over medium low heat, you wont have to stir as much. Emeril says roux is done when you finish two beers, but you've seen me drink beer, I'm thinking more like 5 or 6.

JW said...

I broke my gumbo paddle one Thanksgiving making Turkey gumbo Ya Ya with the left overs. In addition to the problem with burning the roux, if you cook to fast the roux sometimes will separate which renders the final dish basically inedible. I have found that if you are making a simple chicken and sausage gumbo, no seafood, it is best to use lard. You simply can't beat the depth of flavor...but perhaps you can. I still have quite a bit of duck fat in the fridge...I think a duck gumbo is in the near future. Perhaps I'll invite MAB over and we can cook up some boudin. This idea may be good enough for OG to leave NashVegas for a weekend?