Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Little Bit of the South

Our little household is still suffering from some boring eats. Don't get me wrong, we are still eating the stuff we love- tacos, pizza, veggie burgers- but not many new and exciting dishes. I will fully admit that now that I have time to cook, I have been a little lazy. Well, lazy is harsh. I've been rejuvenating.

A recently went on a work trip to New Orleans and came back raving about the wonderful food he had. I am a bit jealous since I've always wanted to visit just for the food alone. One of my favorite things about the South is the food. From the deep south to the low country, the food is delicious. A and I had a chance to visit Charleston last year and just fell in love with the area. Since our vacation has now been cut down to a workcation (where we will stay home and fix our house), we have been playing with the idea of returning to Charleston for a weekend trip.

This recipe started with the idea of making gumbo and developed into a mish mash. Think gumbo meets shrimp and grits (one of my all-time favorite southern dishes) meets Italy!We ended up with polenta since we didn't have rice or grits, but it was perfect for the gumbo.

New Orleans Style Gumbo with Polenta

For gumbo:
3 link andouille sausage, cut into bit size pieces
1-1 1/2 cup of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 medium size onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1-1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp thyme or herbs de Provence
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a large, deep sauce pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted and a little bubbly add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Add a bit of salt and pepper since it's always better to salt and pepper as you go. Cook until softened. Put in a bowl and set aside.

Add andouille sausage to the pan and cook through. The sausages I used were precooked, so I it didn't take very long. Once cooked through, add in the cooked veggies (that were set aside), garlic, and sprinkle in flour. Cook until garlic and flour are browned. Add in chicken broth and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the bits from the bottom. Add can of tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, paprika, red pepper, worcestershire sauce, and a bit more salt and pepper.

Let it cook all together for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavors stew. Add the shrimp about 5-8 minutes before serving so shrimp isn't over cooked. Shrimp are ready once they are pink and curled.

For the polenta:

Follow the instructions on the packaging. However, I make it like oatmeal by just adding a little at a time while stirring it continuously. For more flavor, use broth instead of water, and toward the end add heavy cream and a pad or two of butter. Rice and grits can always be substituted.

Serve gumbo over polenta and enjoy!

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