Chicago’s winter is a long one, but to bring you some comfort in these chilly times, Morning Shift is spending this season bringing you conversations about one of our favorite topics: food.
From a steaming hot bowl of matzo ball soup from Manny’s Deli to the Mexican holiday tradition of the tamalada, we’ve been talking about and indulging in some of our favorite comfort foods and the stories behind the dishes with Chicagoans from different backgrounds.
Earlier this week saw Mardi Gras celebrations, and in that spirit, we talk to — and share a bite with — Cajun food expert Chef Jimmy Bannos. Here’s one of the recipes we tried:
Heaven on Seven’s Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 teaspoons plus ½ teaspoon Angel Dust Cajun Seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound andouille, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts
½ cups diced red onion
2 cups seeded, diced green bell pepper
1 ½ cups diced celery
1 tablespoon seeded, minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon Roasted-Garlic Puree (see below)
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 small bay leaf
6 1/3 cups chicken stock
1 cup Dark Roux (see below)
¼ teaspoon filé powder (see note)
Makes 1 cup
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 cup extra virgin or regular olive oil
Preheat the oven toe 300° F.
Place the garlic in a small ovenproof container and pour in the oil. Use additional oil if needed to completely immerse all the garlic cloves. Cover the container with aluminum foil and roast for 1 hour, until garlic is soft and light golden brown.
Strain the garlic and place in a blender along with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Puree to a smooth consistency, adding a small amount of oil if necessary. Pour into a container and cover the top of the puree with a thin layer of the oil. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
Reserve the remaining garlic-infused oil in another container and refrigerate.
Makes 2 cups
2 cups canola oil
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Heat oil in a 4-quart dutch oven over high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Carefully whisk in the flour a little at a time until all the flour is incorporated. (The mixture will foam up as you add the flour, so add a small amount at a time.) Reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously, preferably with a flat-edged wooded spoon, for 22 to 25 minutes, until the roux is a dark brown. To prevent the roux from cooking any further, carefully pour it into a heat-proof bowl and cool for 45 minutes. Drain of any oil that separates from the roux.
Store the roux in a covered container and refrigerate.
Toss the chicken and 4 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning together in a medium-seized bowl and set aside.
In a large (7-quart) heavy Dutch oven, preferable enameled cast iron, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the andouille and brown for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned chicken and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in the bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, and garlic puree, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, ground black and white peppers, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and remaining ½ teaspoon of Cajun seasoning; cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the roux a little at a time and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the filé powder. Do not let the mixture boil once you have added the filé powder. Remove the bay leaf.
Serve (for 6 people) with cooked white rice.
Jimmy Bannos, third-generation restaurateur at Heaven on Seven, a restaurant serving up authentic New Orleans-style cuisine in the Loop.