Sunday, May 6, 2007
Sunday Supper: Gumbo Over Rice with Corn on the Cob
Little known fact about me: I love sauces. Well, actually, that's probably pretty well known. I did read, though, that when you quit smoking, you're more prone to crave heavy sauces with your food because smoking (along with giving you lung cancer, heart disease and that delightful wheeze when you haul your cookies up even a small flight of stairs) goes bat-crap crazy on your olfactory senses -- the nose no longer knows, in other words. You bust up your sense of taste and smell so bad, even when you quit (as I did in January of 2005), you still need stronger, more flavorful foods to satisfy you because you're physically not smelling or tasting like you once could. No wonder I ate my own body weight in not only chex mix, but also in Alfredo sauce. Mmm. Sweet, sweet creamy sauces... but I digress.
So this gumbo* satisfies my basic craving for a richly flavored, textured sauce, but does not indulge in calorie-crazy ingredients. Because it's so rich and hearty, I like to serve this with a crusty bread, nice to sop up the extras with. And who doesn't prefer gumbo over rice? Crazy people, that's who. By using brown rice, a white-wheat sourdough loaf, and serving it with luscious fresh corn-on-the-cob, you get a huge meal for very little calories (Gumbo = 260 calories, or 6 WW points; 1/2 C. brown rice = 100 calories, or 2 WW points; corn on the cob, using calorie-free butter spray and just salt and pepper = 65 calories, or 1 WW point). The gumbo is so low cal and tasty, I think, because it uses only half fatty sausage, and half chicken. I plan on making this with 6 oz. of shrimp next time -- an excellent substitution with many Cajun dishes.
Sausage and Chicken Gumbo
First, get your rice going, so it's nice and cooked by the time the gumbo is ready to be served.
1 package of no-drain chicken breast chunks
6 oz. Cajun sausage (you can use sweet or spicy, however you like it), cut into 1" rounds
10 oz. frozen veggies, either gumbo style (corn, pepper, okra, onion) or summer style (squash, beans, carrots, tomatoes)
1 medium minced garlic clove
4 --5 chopped basil leaves**
Fresh chopped parsley (if on hand)
3 medium scallions, chopped, divided into "green parts" and "white parts"
1 T. flour
1/2 C. chicken stock
1/2 C. dry white wine
1 C. crushed canned tomatoes (not the whole can, usually, just a cup)
1 piece bay leaf
1/4 t. dry thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (here's also where, if you like spicy gumbo, you can turn up the heat and sprinkle in some Cajun seasoning, some cayenne and some red pepper flakes)
If you have a Dutch oven, use that. If not, this recipe works perfectly well in any large oven-proof casserole dish with a decent lid. Spray your vessel with cook spray, liberally. Set it over medium high heat and brown the meats, stirring, about 2 minutes. Then stir in the frozen veggies, the garlic, basil, parsley and white scallion parts, sauteing until thawed, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the mixture with flour and cook another minute or two. Slowly stir in broth and wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper (any any spices you might want to use). Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, still covered, and let simmer about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Sprinkle with green parts of scallions and pour over 1/2 C. brown rice. Makes 4 servings (about 1 1/4 C. gumbo per serving). Laissez les bon temps rouler!! [Let the Good Times Roll!]
Corn on the Cob
Here's the quick and easy way to do corn on the cob, albeit sans grill. Boil a big pot of salted water (I throw in a taste of Old Bay, also). Once it's boiling, you want to toss freshly cleaned, stripped ears of corn in. You want to strip the corn as soon to the boiling time as possible. Then boil them for no more than 5 minutes, at a nice rollicking boil. Remove with tongs, coat with calorie-free butter spray, salt, pepper and a little paprika, then either serve immediately or put into a shallow dish, covered with foil to keep the heat in.
My husband takes all the fun out of corn on the cob by slicing the kernels off with a knife instead of eating it typewriter fashion, like a normal person. Ah well. I guess no one is perfect.
Cajun Two-Stepping Towards Dinner:
"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" by either Hank Williams (the original) or Dolly Parton (because I love her)
"Johnny Be Good" by Chuck Berry
* For once I have a source for you -- it comes from the Weight Watcher's online recipe box; I've added a few things, but mostly stayed faithful.
** I just watched the Barefoot Contessa cut up basil into those perfect little strips: you take the leaves, stacking them neatly one on top of the other, then roll them up like a cigarette (wistful sigh). Then you chop them, making those sweet little rings of peppery flavor. Mmm.