I made duck and sausage gumbo for a reception my staff hosted today. It totally rocked!
I love duck. I order it almost every time it's available to me on a menu. I almost never cook it at home. Why is that? I'm not sure. Too complicated? Maybe. Too much fat? Probably. Or maybe I'm just picky. I only like the breast, the legs and thighs. Nowadays you can buy just those parts. How sweet is that? So I decided to make duck and sausage gumbo for only the third or fourth time in 30 years of making gumbo.
It took only three phone calls to find duck legs. Whole Foods in Berkeley had them at $5.99 a lb. What they were selling as legs was actually the leg and the thigh which was perfect. They were packaged by the pair, so I bought four pair, which weighed just over four pounds.
This is what the meat off of eight legs and thighs looks like.
They also had andouille sausage, so I bought some of it as well. Sausage adds quite a bit of spiciness to the gumbo. Before adding it to the gumbo, I like to brown it separately in a skillet. Like this:
But I've gotten ahead of myself. The first thing to making a gumbo is to make "da roux." Back twenty years or so ago, when my cousin Sue was still alive, I'd get everything ready to go, make myself a drink, get the roux started and then call her so she could talk me through to getting the roux dark enough.
This is Sue Baby at about 7. We'd laugh and tell stories remembered from growing up together. I'd say "well, it's about done now," and she'd say "no, it ain't near ready. Keep stirring that roux." Sometimes it would take two drinks and as long as 45 minutes to get the roux dark enough for Sue-Baby--that's what I called her, my Sue-Baby.
Is this roux dark enough sugah?
When it is right, you add the "holy trinity" of Louisiana cooking: a mirepoix of onion, celery and bell pepper. I always use half green and half red bell pepper--for the color. It's prettier. See for yourself.
Thank god I'm a better cook than a photographer. Cook this mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes and then add to your stock which you'll have been heating in your soup pot. For this recipe, after I boned the duck, I cooked the legs and skin and such in a good quality chicken stock, just to leach out any duck flavor that might be lingering in those bones and skin. After straining that, I put it back on the fire and get it hot. I used three quarts of stock for this soup.
Now it's gumbo.
This was one of the best gumbos I have ever made, and I've made a few pots of gumbo, I gar-aun-tee. I sure wish this were scratch and sniff, but y'know if it were we'd get out of control in a minute.
Oh, and I looked too damned cute. Sometimes I just can't believe I was born in the first half of the last century.
I hope I feel this cute tomorrow. I'm heading out after work looking for other Louisiana emigres with whom to share a drink, maybe a laugh or two, and memories of New Orleans. You know it ain't there anymore, and what is there isn't what we remember.
Happy Mardi Gras.