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Mardi Gras jambalaya or Cajun gumbo?

Their differences are slight, both are perfect for celebrating Mardi Gras Lousiana-style. This duck and andouille sausage gumbo is comfort food with a Creole/Cajun kick.

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When the roux reaches a satisfying brownness, add the onion. Toss to coat with the roux and stir frequently (you can switch to a wooden spoon or pair of wooden spatulas – I like the latter because as you add more stuff to the pot, it’s easier to mix it all together). Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, then stir in the celery, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes.

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Blue Kitchen

Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.

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Add the chicken broth, water and diced tomatoes with their liquids to the pot. Add the cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, paprika and a generous grind of black pepper and stir to combine. Return the duck legs and sausage to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Tuck the bay leaves into the liquid and bring gumbo to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Transfer the duck legs to a plate and allow them to cool enough to handle. Cover the pot and let the gumbo continue to simmer. Meanwhile rinse the okra, trim off the tops and slice into half-inch or so pieces. After 10 or 15 minutes, remove the skin from the duck legs and cut/tear the meat from the bones. It will still be pretty warm, so be careful, but don’t be a baby about it, either. Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks and add the duck and the okra to the pot.

Cover and simmer for another 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. I know that 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne sounds tame, but the andouille sausage will add some heat. Add more cayenne if you like or some hot sauce. As the gumbo nears doneness, cook the rice. Remove the gumbo from the heat, discard bay leaves and stir in the filé powder, if you’re using it.

Serve the gumbo in shallow soup bowls. Top with a generous mound of rice and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Pass the hot sauce around the table for those who want more heat and a vinegary zip.

Kitchen Notes

Don’t skip the okra. Okra is a classic southern vegetable that found its way here from Africa. We love it steamed, fried or however. Some people object to its “sliminess,” but that viscous liquid cooks into the broth and helps thicken it. When shopping, avoid overly large okra, as it can be woody. If you can’t find acceptable fresh okra, frozen will do just fine.

Filé powder. This is another staple of Creole and Cajun cooking. Also known as gumbo filé, it is the powdered leaves of sassafras trees. It is used sparingly as a thickening agent and should be stirred into gumbo after it’s removed from the heat; otherwise, it can make the broth stringy. Besides thickening the broth, it adds a kind of root beer flavor. As you see, my recipe calls for all three thickening agents, roux, okra and filé powder. Feel free to omit the filé powder. If you’re looking for a source, we got ours at the The Spice House.

Related post: Braised/Roasted Duck Legs with Vegetables

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