Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo for Mardi Gras

Smoked Duck and Andouille GumboFat Tuesday
I got a call from my sister over the weekend to see if I had her cookbook. I did, in fact, have it. I have been holding it for ransom for quite some time.

It is not surprising that she would be looking for this particular cookbook this time of year, because next Tuesday happens to be Mardi Gras. And this cookbook, in my opinion, happens to be one of the best New Orleans cookbooks available. Susan Spicer’s Crescent City Cooking is filled with wonderful things.

New Orleans is one of those bucket list places for me. I have never been, and I have absolutely no desire to visit during Mardi Gras or the heat of the Summer. But I do have a desire to go and eat my way through the city. There is just so much history, not only in the streets but in the music and food. It makes my mouth water to think about it. Just not sure when I am going to get there…

In the meantime, cookbooks like this one give us a taste of the city, and whet our appetites for more. I have written about recipes from Spicer’s book, and I now bring them to your attention in advance of Mardi Gras. Her Autumn Salad with Apples, Comté, and Hazelnuts and Cornmeal-Crusted Crayfish Pies are good, But without question, the best of the best is the Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo.

And for something a little sweet to go with your Mardi Gras feast, there’s Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce from Emeril Lagasse.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo
Adapted from Crescent City Cooking by Susan Spicer
Yields 8 Servings
You can substitute an equal amount of roasted chicken for the duck. But if you get a chance to use duck, give it a try. It’s delicious!

4 duck legs, or 1 whole duck
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil or rendered duck fat, plus extra for cooking okra
1/2 cup flour
2 medium onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 pound andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups rich Chicken Stock
2 cups sliced okra, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon file powder, optional
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Bouquet Garni herb bundle
Hot sauce
Cooked white rice, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the duck in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Roast the duck until tender (legs for about one hour and the whole duck for about two hours). Save the rendered fat to make the roux. Let the duck cool and pick the meat off the bones.

Heat the 1/2 cup or duck fat in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or cast-iron pot* over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the roux turns a deep brown resembling the color of peanut butter—or even a little darker, for a richer flavor, (about 10- 12 minutes)

Add the onions, peppers, and celery, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, for five minutes. Stir in the sausage and cook three more minutes. Then add the garlic and whisk in the stock, one cup at a time. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, sear the okra and add to the pot, along with 1/2 cup scallions. Add the thyme, optional file powder, Worcestershire sauce, Bouquet Garni, hot sauce to taste, the reserved duck meat, and a little salt. Simmer over low heat, stirring from time to time, for at least one hour.

Skim off any fat from the top. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce and serve hot, with or without rice. Garnish with the reserved scallions.

To enrich your chicken broth or intensify a store-bought one, pour it into a pot, add the picked duck or chicken bones, and simmer for 15 minutes. You may need to add a little water to make sure you end up with 6 cups.

*Note: Using the right cookware is essential for gumbo—don’t even think about a thin, flimsy pot.

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