Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bertrand's Chicken Gumbo

My Aunt Dot Pourteau recently published her second cookbook titled All the Foods We’ve Loved Before and I was happy to see recipes from my uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmother, and yes, even my own mother. Dot is a wonderful person as well as a wonderful cook. She was married to my Uncle Bertrand for many years before his untimely passing. Bertrand grew up in Oil City, Louisiana. He was of French extraction and his parents owned a cafe in the fabled oil town of Oil City.

To say that the Pourteau’s could cook is like saying the sky is blue. Here is a recipe from Aunt Dot’s wonderful cookbook. This is a very rare recipe that I don’t believe you will find anywhere else. It was perfected by a family of French descent that catered to the ravenous appetites of the oil patch. Try it if you get a chance and I’ll give you my Oklahoma guaranty that you won’t be disappointed.

1 large fryer (or equivalent in breast and thighs), cut up
1 1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
4 cubes chicken bouillon
3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 tablespoons cornstarch
olive or canola oil

Clean chicken and remove skin. I use a Dutch oven to cook this dish in, spray bottom of pan with Pam to avoid sticking, put in the chicken skin and cook the fat out until skin is crisp. (This fat that is rendered out of the skin helps give it a little bit mor chicken flavor). Besides, Penny, our son Steven’s dog that is making a home with us at the time, loves chicken cracklings.

Salt and pepper chicken pieces. Fry chicken pieces until they are light brown. Take out the chicken and set aside. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Add olive oil, if needed, to saute vegetables until they are limp. Sprinkle vegetables with a small amount of salt and pepper. They will smell soooo good. Add 1/32 cup flour and make a roux. Do not let the flour get very brown, just a light tan color. Add approximately 2 1/2 quarts boiling water slowly to roux and four cubes of chicken bouillion. Taste broth, as it may need to be reseasoned at this time.

Return browned chicken to broth, cook on low heat until tender (DO NOT OVERCOOK CHICKEN!). Remove chicken from broth. When ready to serve thicken the broth with about 3 tablespoons cornstarch in about 1/3 cup cold water. Slowly stir the slurry of cornstarch into broth. Let broth come back to a slight boil, then you can tell if the broth is as thick as you wish, if so return chicken to liquid and cook, very slowly to avoid scorching, about ten minutes.

TO SERVE: Put steamed rice in individual serving bowl and sprinkle with file, as desired. DO NOT put file in gumbo while cooking. Put chicken pieces over rice and ladle gumbo over all. May serve with a side order of salad. Lettuce, tomatoes, celery, carrots, and anything else you like. Garlic bread is also good with this meal.


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