An annual ritual of decadence and depravity looms large for millions of our fellow citizens. Tomorrow 75% of the adult male population will be shit faced by 4 PM MST. The Super Bowl begins about 20 minutes later. The four hour human demolition derby grants we men permission to make fools of ourselves without penalty. This year we are fortunate in that 48 hours after this Manly Festival–its Fat Tuesday, and if you happen to be in New Orleans, or anywhere else that celebrates Mardi Gras you can watch pie-eyed lassies expose their breasts. If drunk college kids aren’t you’re thing then the Super Tuesday Presidential primaries should be all the excuse needed (what, with the war and economy going so well) to imbibe copious amounts of alcohol, excellent gumbo, dirty rice and cornbread. Choose alcoholic beverages to suit your crowd of friends.
If you don’t drink it’s a violation of Man Law Numero Uno for you to participate in any Super Bowl related activities. (OK minors and diabetics get a special dispensation!) My posse is a nefarious lot: old hippies, gun-toting rednecks, mathematicians, reformed Republicans, and a few closeted Liberals not likely to be restrained by politically correct social mores banning behavior like public urination and farting. However, we do love good food, plenty of tequila and beer, and shower once a month whether we need it or not. Track down your beer and tequila at the gas station, supermarket or liquor store. Go forth and purchase my fellow travelers, go forth. (And the anthropologists think hunter-gatherers are disappearing! They are obviously not Super Bowl and Mardi Gras fans.)
With all that and you still want to cook, you say? Welcome to my den of good eats! First the gumbo. Making gumbo is like making love. Long and slow, baby. Long and slow. Because I live in New Mexico I developed this recipe for gumbo with no seafood in it for the landlocked crowd here.
(LOGISTICS NOTE: Gather all your ingredients first! Prep everything next. Then start by making the cornbread. Once you have the cornbread in the oven, start the gumbo. When the gumbo is down to the final stage of cooking go ahead and get your rice going. All of these items can be reheated in the microwave. They will also do well if packaged and frozen for later.)
- 1 whole large chicken (cut into 8 pieces)
- 1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage (or linguisa sausage)
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 5 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 medium or large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup celery, large dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock (water is OK, but you will not lose some depth of flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoons thyme, ground
- 3 bay leaf
- 1/8 teaspoons cloves, ground
- 1/8 teaspoons allspice
- 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoons sweet basil, dried
- 1 tablespoon creole spice (i.e. Tony Chacheres Brand)
- 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
- Fry chicken in oil until brown. Remove and add sausage. Fry sausage 4-5 minutes and remove. To the oil that is left in the pan, make a dark roux by adding the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 15-20 minutes. To the roux, add the onions, bell peppers, celery and the garlic and cook until the vegetables are limp.
- Add the chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, ground cloves, allspice, cayenne, basil, and Creole spice. Slowly simmer at least 40 minutes, then add the chicken and sausage. Cook until the chicken is tender (about 45 minutes). Remove from heat. Add the green onions. Serve in a bowl with steamed white rice (or dirty rice! Because it rocks with dirty rice.)
NOTE: Add more cayenne pepper to your gumbo for more heat. This recipe is equivalent to the heat of a very mild green chile.
Next up: Dirty Rice. Gumbo is traditionally served with steamed white rice. But I say to hell with tradition. I love dirty rice! So let’s get to work and make that dirty rice.
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, (or chicken fat, for you intrepid few)
- 1/2 pound chopped chicken gizzards
- 1/4 pound ground pork
- 2 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup onion, small dice
- 1/2 cup celery, small dice
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, small dice
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/3 pound chicken livers, chopped fine
- 3/4 cups rice
- Seasoning: Combine cayenne, salt, pepper, mustard, cumin, thyme, and oregano. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over high heat, add oil (or chicken fat if desired), gizzards, ground pork and cook until meat is browned, stirring occasionally (approximately 6 minutes).
- Add the seasoning, then the onions, celery, bell pepper, along with the garlic. Stir, scraping the bottom well. Add the butter and stir to melt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook 8 minutes, stirring constantly (or the mixture will stick).
- Add the chicken broth, increasing the heat back to high. Cook 8 minutes, continuing to stir.
- Stir in the chicken livers and cook 2 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir thoroughly. Cover and cook until the rice is tender (20 minutes). Remove from heat. Allow to stand covered for additional 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve!
Next up is the cornbread to sop up that last of that gravy from the gumbo. But its cornbread with an attitude. Traditional cornbread with corn, jalapenos and cheddar cheese for New Mexicans, or those who wished they still lived here.
- 1-8 oz. can corn, cream-style
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 medium jalapeno peppers, minced
- 1 tablespoon butter (if baking in loaf size)
Adjust oven rack to center position; heat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt Make sure dry ingredients are combined then make a well in the middle.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream-style corn, eggs, buttermilk, oil, 1/2-cup grated cheese, and jalapeno peppers. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients then stir until just combined.
- Portion cornbread mixture into a 24 hole mini-muffin pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
- Alternatively you can bake as a single loaf. Place loaf pan with butter in oven until pan is and butter is melted. Remove loaf pan from oven and pour cornbread mix into loaf pan. Bake approximately 45 minutes.
- Cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove to wire cooling rack.
You are now ready for your day of festivities. Have at it you wild and crazy people! After you sober up from your lost night and your head returns to a steady-state send me a note and thank me for making the best meal you’ve had in a while.
(WARNING: If you wake up with an odd taste in your mouth and a rubber hanging out of your ass you probably had more fun than a lot of us will. So have another shot of tequila and try to remember that it’s all good clean fun.)