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Big Graham - Graham's Glorious Gumbo

My original attempts at a gumbo were based on a recipe from Paul Prudhomme, who wrote a book about Cajun cooking at the height of Cajun music popularity in the eighties. He has since turned his spice/herb mixtures into quite a successful business. Much research, trial and error and a visit to Louisiana enabled me to discover some of his and other Cajun chef’s secrets. The recipe below should produce about 30 portions.

My days with The Ragin’ Cajuns and Manchester Cajun Club back in the nineties meant that I used to cook this in ever increasing quantities for the once a month sessions. I have also cooked it since on numerous occasions for anything from a Cajun music night at the local pub, for birthday parties and even the annual Christmas meal of the local quiz league.

I’m not prepared to give away the secrets of the spices, but providing I’m not inundated with requests, would be quite happy to give a packet of the mixture away, to anyone who comes to see Biggles and buys a CD. If there are lots of requests though, will have to cover my costs.

Even Pere Verte managed to cook this for his local dance troop.

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 large chickens (we need about 4lbs of meat off them)
  • 4lb diced pork
  • upto 3lb kabanas or similar spicy sausage
  • 16 medium sized peppers (mixed colours makes it look good)
  • 4 bunches celery, though maybe 6 if the bunches are a bit thin
  • 8 large onions
  • lots of garlic to taste, probably about 4 bulbs
  • olive oil
Method:

Skin and bone the chickens using the skin, bone etc to make a stock the day before, so that you can put through a sieve. The next day you can remove the fat from the top. I make stock and freeze it. I use various spices and herbs when making stock, and every chef has his secrets!

Dice the meat off the chicken.

Peel the garlic and use a crusher to put it in the pan. Mix a good dollup of olive oil with the garlic and add the diced onions. Gentle heat to soften the onions then add the meat and Grahams Mixture of herbs and spices. Stir in well but don’t allow it to burn. Add chicken and pork stirring it in well so that it gets a good covering of the garlic, onions and Grahams mixture, but don’t allow it to burn. Add some of the chicken stock to avoid burning. De-seed and cut into smallish pieces the peppers (probably as well to have done this beforehand). Similarly the celery (don’t throw the flowery bits away, put them in as well…make sure it’s washed well).

Add enough chicken stock to cover everything and allow it to simmer until the pork is cooked (pork takes longer than chicken) Then add the diced sausage and give it another 15 mins or so.

You then need to taste it. With luck, it’s ok, but the amount of vegetables can very enormously depending on size and quality. Peppers can vary from skinny limp old things to very fat walled wonders. Celery also varies, and because of this, you may need to increase certain of the tastes. This is the difficult bit, because herbs and spices don’t develop immediately like salt does, and it is easy to overdo.

Once happy with the taste, use cornflour or preferably arrowroot (this is tasteless) to thicken it up (Not too thick though).

Generally, it is served with boiled long grain rice

It’s taken me years to develop the above, which is based on Paul Prudhommes gumbo recipe (He was and maybe still is regarded as the top Cajun chef www.chefpaul.com though I have his book which came before all this web stuff).

I will provide the secret mix for a small sum of money (3 pounds), but if you don’t fancy going to all the trouble (and it takes me 3-4 hours to cook and another hour or so to shop), I’ll do the shopping and cook it for a fee of 40 pounds. The ingredients cost varies between 30-45 pounds. Rice is extra, cooked and cooled ready for the microwave.

Laissez les bons temps roulez!!

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