Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Orleans- Gluten Free Gumbo

I love making soup, winter, spring, summer or fall are all totally acceptable soup making seasons.  Now that I had learned how to make my own chicken stock soup making has become even more part of Everyday Nutrition!

This past January I went to New Orleans for a girls weekend with a few friends.

 In between the normal Bourbon St. shenanigans we managed to find time for a historic trolley tour,

rode on a movable landmark,

got scared silly on a ghost hunt

Went on a plantation tour,

Ate and drank some New Orleans staples

and the most impressive activity of all,

spent an afternoon at the New Orleans School of Cooking

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans, are the least bit interested in cooking and have the ability to set aside whatever liter of adult beverage you are working on for a few hours you will not be disappointed.

The class can be scheduled ahead or they also allow walk-ins if there is room.  Be sure to check out the local guidebooks at your hotel, we found a $2 off coupon. 

My friends and I attended the afternoon version of their "Demonstration Cooking Class and Lunch".  Each day the menu is a little different, so be sure to take a look and choose one that seems most interesting to you.  The class that we chose included Gumbo, Jambalaya and Pralines, mainly because the day and time worked with the rest of our schedule.

The class is set up much like a cooking show.  We were seated at round tables that looked up at a kitchen area where the chef did the demonstration.  We did not do any actual cooking but instead were given local beer to drink and instructed to watch the professionals demonstrate step by step.  We had Kevin Belton, he was HILARIOUS!

The two hours flew by as we watched him make recipe after recipe.  At the end of the class we ate, and ate and ate and then ate again. 

Whenever I travel I like to eat mainly of foods that are native to the region so by the time we made it to the cooking class I had already eaten my share of gumbo, jambalaya and pralines but I have to say none compared to what Chef Kevin made, it was so good!

Out of everything that we did while visiting the crescent city this event was by far my favorite.  For $22 we got 2 hours of entertainment, a cooking lesson, beer, lunch, recipes and left full and happy with a few pralines for the plane ride home, amazing!

Upon returning home I almost immediately went to the grocery store to get ingredients to make my new found favorite recipes.  The first recipe that I made was gumbo, however I added one slight change, I made it gluten free.

Why?  Well you see one of my friends on the trip eats a gluten free diet and while she was able to indulge in the jambalaya and pralines the flour laden roux of the gumbo made it off limits.  I was eager to make something similar so that she too could enjoy the delicious recipe and I always love a challenge.

I started the recipe the same way that we did in class, by dicing up the trinity (peppers, onions and celery)

            • 4 C chopped onions
            • 2 C chopped celery
            • 2 C chopped green pepper

Next came the Roux, only instead of flour I used potato flakes.  Basically a roux is flour and oil that is cooked to give a toasty flavor but also thickens the soup.  In my thought process I decided that potato flakes would also thicken the soup and could brown similar to flour, which it did.

          • 1 C Fat (oil / lard / bacon drippings)
          • 1 C flour
Combine in a sauce pan and cook until brown.

Add the chopped up trinity and garlic to the roux and stir.

            • 2 T minced garlic

Cook about 7-8 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

While these are cooking chop up your meat of choice, I used turkey andouille sausage (gluten free) and chicken.  (you can add shrimp or seafood, but at the end to avoid over cooking).  Chop the pre-cooked meat and then add to the pot.

Cook for 10 minutes and then add stock.

            • 8 C stock or well flavored water
Reduce heat and simmer covered for one hour.  At this time you can add whatever seasonings or spices you desire.  If you wanted to add shrimp or seafood simply add it now and cover the pot for a few minutes to allow it to heat through.

And there you have it, Gluten Free Gumbo!

Gumbo may be served over rice or be served without rice.

The addition of sherry and/or Filé is optional, per diner, at the table

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