Catfish and Crab Creole Gumbo

catfish crab gumbo

Some version of gumbo is always on the menu at any given restaurant in New Orleans. This classic seafood version, which is chock-full chicken, Jonah crab claws and vegetables swimming in a broth richly flavored, is always a hit with a crowd. You can also make it the centerpiece of a Mardi Gras meal.

Yields: 3 quarts, 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 to 5 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
6 cups fish stock
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 chicken drumsticks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon file pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound catfish, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons dry Creole seasoning*
1 dozen Jonah crab legs
1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over
1 10-ounce package of frozen okra
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped tender green onion tops
White Rice, for serving

Directions:
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil allowing it to heat for about 5 minutes until it begins to shimmer, then add the flour to the skillet. With a wooden spoon, stir the oil and flour together to form a roux. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to stir the roux for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the color of dark chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the the stock to the pot.

Heat an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, add the roux to the pot and season with with the thyme, bay leaves, salt,pepper, and file powder. Add the chicken stock. Add the chicken. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.

Season the catfish with creole seasoning. Stir in the crab legs and the catfish into the gumbo and cook for 10 minutes. Add the okra to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and chicken bones and discard.

To serve, garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.

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Snoop Dogg’s Potato Chip Fried Chicken

snopp

The batter for this crispy, golden fried chicken wings from rapper and culinary star (have you seen the tv cooking show “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” ?), Snoop Dogg, has a secret ingredient: potato chips. Use any type of  potato chips you like—sour cream and onion, jalapeño, or salt and vinegar would all work well.  Snoop was partial to using BBQ chips in the show with Martha. To really get that BBQ chip flavor in the final result, though, don’t be afraid to add a bit more chips to the coating than the recipe calls for. The recipe also called for the use of cornmeal in the batter. Personally, I would leave out the cornmeal because it makes the batter to grainy. A few other adjustments were made as well, like using a cut up whole fryer chicken instead of wings. I also used plain potato chips. To be perfectly honest. I prefer my Grand’s recipe for fried chicken, where she would brine the bird in buttermilk over night in the refrigerator, making for a juicer and more tender chicken.

I would give this recipe a B- overall. The corn meal, as I mentioned before, really doesn’t work in this recipe. The chicken was tasty, by the coating doesn’t adhere very will to the chicken, even after air drying 30 minutes prior to frying.

The recipe below is featured in: “Snoop Dogg’s Fried Chicken Is Game-Changing & You Should Make it Right Now.” From the book, From Crook to Cook by Snoop Dogg, Chronicle Books, 2018.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
For the brine:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Peel of 1 orange

For the chicken:
4 pounds chicken wings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup crushed potato chips
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning
2 cups buttermilk
1 quart canola oil

Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Directions:
For the brine:
Fill a large pot with 5 cups of water. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and orange peel. Cook, stirring, until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Place the chicken in a large bowl and cover completely with the cooled brine. Cover and refrigerate for 10 to 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.
3. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Set the chicken aside and discard the brine.

For the chicken:
To batter the chicken: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, crushed potato chips, garlic powder, cayenne, baking powder, black pepper, and salt until combined. Transfer to a large shallow dish. Place another large shallow dish next to the flour mixture and add the buttermilk to it. Place a wire rack or pan next to the two dishes; this will be where you set your battered chicken.

Take one wing and submerge it in the buttermilk. Lift and let any excess drip back into the dish. Roll the wing in the flour mixture, coating it completely. Place the battered chicken wing on the wire rack or pan and repeat with the remaining wings.

Let the wings dry for 20 to 30 minutes before frying.

To fry the chicken: In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the canola oil to 350°F. Place a wire rack over a plate or line a pan with brown paper and set aside.

Working in batches, carefully add the chicken wings to the hot oil, careful not to crowd, otherwise they’ll become greasy. Once the chicken is added, the oil’s temperature will drop to between 300°F to 320°F. Watch and adjust the heat to maintain a consistent 350°F temperature.

Fry the wings for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden. If the chicken is getting too dark, lower the heat. Once the chicken is done, remove each piece with tongs and transfer to the prepared rack or pan to drain. Sprinkle generously with salt.

Let the oil come back to temperature before adding the next batch; repeat with the remaining chicken.

Serve the wings with plenty of hot sauce (if using) or over buttermilk waffles, hot or cold, however you like them.

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How to Stretch a Chicken on a Budget

stretch a chicken
Photo by Bailey Weaver, Edibles, 2016.

Birding for Beginners

Some tips from the pros for cooking a better bird:
Don’t rinse the chicken. It spreads germs and is unnecessary.

•Try spatchcocking the chicken to flatten it for even roasting. (Or have the butcher do the hatchet work.)

•Ask your farmer or butcher for chicken feet, too, which can make excellent broth.

•Let the roasted chicken rest, and leave time for breaking it down. Don’t start your Sunday roast so late that you don’t have the energy to follow through on your grand plans for chicken several different ways in using the left overs.

•Don’t toss the fat. Make schmaltz!

You can serve a roasted chicken whole as an impressive entrée or deploy its disparate parts throughout the menu—with grilled wings and cracklin’s starring as bar snacks and liver being transformed into a mousse.

But for those that may be less inclined, you can master of putting a whole bird to work for several weeknight dishes. Together they’ll break down the remnants of a roast chicken to make stock, saving any leftover meat for tacos or potpie and the fat and skin for any number of dishes.

Here are some go-to recipes on how to make a chicken stretch for more meals in a home kitchen, especially if you are on a budget. Click on the recipes below:

Roasted Garlic Chicken (Sunday Dinner)

Chicken Croquettes (Monday)

Chicken Tacos (Tuesday)

Deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie Galette (Wednesday)

Chicken and Arugula Pasta Salad (Thursday)

Stracciatella (Friday)

Chicken Liver Mousse (Saturday)