I hope you all had a happy holiday break, whatever (and however) you celebrated. There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s get to it.
The first dish up is a huge, hardy gumbo, made once again from a recipe appearing in Bon Appetit. I don’t remember exactly how I arrived at this Cajun stew for a Christmas potluck party, but, then again, there were a lot of drinks that night.
Gumbo is a dish of huge proportions in every aspect: volume, prep time, expense and taste. Be prepared to spend upwards of $40 or more to put together all the ingredients (including some not-so-easy-to-get items like clam juice and frozen okra). You’ll be in the kitchen at least an hour (including a huge amount of chopping time) and will be doing a load of stirring.
For a party of upwards of 20, I halved the recipe and still took almost half home at the end of the night. I made six cups of cooked rice to accompany it; I would suggest more like 10 cups for the halved recipe.
It may be a lot of effort, but you’ll eat like a king for days. The stew has amazing resiliency and really does taste better in the days subsequent to its marathon preparation.
As for substitutions, I did use some pre-cooked chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s instead of the andouille (in order to appease my favorite vegetarians). Just remember that since they are pre-cooked, you should only add this kind of sausage at the very end to warm it up. The same rule applies if you’re using already-cooked shrimp, as I did.