Some will lead you to believe that when it is time to meet my maker, I will be seated First Class on Lucifer Airlines, headed due south. And although I will admit to not walking the straight and narrow, I am a God fearing individual and I understand the importance of spiritual beliefs and guidance. However, as with most journeys in my life, I tend to question my faith from time to time. Currently that question involves the understanding of reincarnation.
Growing up, I truly believed that I was born in the wrong era. I should have been riding the open plains, driving cattle north and fighting Comanche along the way. I should have been playing poker and drinking whiskey with Gus McCrae. I was born to brave the elements and sleep under the stars. In my former life, I must have been a cowboy? But as time passed and I realized that sleeping among the elements isn’t quite so appealing, so went my belief of reincarnation. Or did it?
Recently, my brother (to be known hence forth as the Syndicate) sent me his recipe for Midnight Gumbo, the coup de gras of Coon Ass cooking. See in bayou country there are two truisms, if it is worth cooking, it is likely to take all day and if you are going to cook all day, you might as well get your drunk on while doing it. Wait…..back up and read that again……..I am beginning to see the light. I wasn’t born in the wrong era; I was born in the wrong area. In my previous life, I wasn’t a cowboy, I was a freak’n Cajun. I wasn’t meant to ride the plains and drive cattle, I was born to ride air boats, hunt ducks, get liquored up and shoot gators. I my friends, am a Coon Ass and hope this recipe will inspire you to become a want-to-be Coon Ass too.
The Syndicate’s Midnight Gumbo*
1 c vegetable oil
1 c flour
½ c Hell Bitch Cajun Seasoning
2 lbs duck breast, cubed
1 lbs Andouille Sausage, chopped
1 each yellow onion, chopped
1 c celery, diced
1 each green bell pepper, diced
3 Qtrs duck or chicken stock
2-4 bay leaves
1 c green onion tops, chopped
2 c white rice
Tabasco & Gumbo Filet, to taste
French Bread Ingredients
1 each French bread loaf
2 T butter
1 T garlic, minced
A Word about Gumbo
There are only two secrets to good gumbo. First, use good, homemade stock. Second, take the time to make a good roux – it’s the best part of making gumbo as you will soon see.
Now many people fret over making the roux. But making a roux is nothing more than cooking flour in oil, in a HOT CAST IRON skillet. The only real rule in making roux is to “stir the mutha”. And when I say stir, I mean stir – constantly. You can raise or lower the heat if you feel like the roux is getting away from you, but never quit stirring! A wooden spoon or spatula is the best roux-stirrer.
There are many different kinds of roux. Some are cooked in butter, some are cooked in lard and some are cooked in oil. My experience has been that oil works best. However, when it boils down to it, roux’s are generally judged by their color. There is dirty blonde, milk chocolate, Indian red, dark chocolate and the ever elusive black roux. The longer you cook the roux, the darker it gets. Just remember, the darker it gets, the faster it cooks. You can go from Indian red to dark chocolate in a matter of seconds. And remember, coon-asses call roux “Cajun Napalm”. It gets VERY hot and will burn if you are sloppy in your stirring.
While most folks judge their roux by color, the Syndicate has a better unit of measurement……the number of glasses (or bottles) of red wine necessary to obtain the desired color. For Midnight Gumbo, you should count on at least a one bottle roux. However, gumbo is a labor of love and requires patience. Since you will be stirring constantly, you should open two bottles (just in case) and place them both within reach.
Finally, be sure to prep all ingredients prior to starting your roux, because once the roux is done, you will “cool it down” by stirring in the vegetables. Note, the roux will immediately darken more once you add the vegetables.
Bring on the Gumbo
Season duck liberally with Hell Bitch Cajun Seasoning and brown in cast iron Dutch oven. Once browning is complete, remove from Dutch oven and set aside. To make roux, combine oil and flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once roux has reached desired color (see above) add onion, celery and bell pepper (The Holy Trinity), seasoning liberally with Hell Bitch and sauté for 10 minutes, still stirring that mutha constantly. Add Andouille sausage, bay leaves and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Next, add enough stock to cover entire mixture by about one inch, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Approximately 5 minutes before serving gumbo, add cubed duck and allow re-heating.
While simmering gumbo, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté garlic and butter for about 3 minutes. Cut trough in French bread, pour in garlic butter, wrap in foil and heat for approximately 10 – 15 minutes or until toasty.
Serve in deep bowl over rice and top with your desired amount of green onions, filet and Tabasco.
* Midnight Gumbo you may ask? Odd name for a gumbo recipe. As I have said previously, Cajun’s love to cook, and cooking great coon ass food takes all day……. and sometimes all night. Legend has it that this recipe was scribed sometime around midnight, after what was likely a “two bottle” roux night. As much as I would like to have retained its original form, many of you, including me, may have had a hard time ciphering through it if sober. Although I do not recommend sobriety when cooking gumbo, I have taken the liberty to provide you with a “translated” form, while trying to maintain its original colorfulness. The Syndicate and I hope you enjoy!