I like to think of myself as a competent cook, someone who knows their way round a kitchen and can get to grips with a variety of foods and techniques. But, this does not mean that foolish errors won’t still be made. In fact, perhaps the confidence you gain with becoming a good cook means you’re more likely to get complacent and forget the basics. Such as reading the instructions BEFORE starting to cook instead of halfway through. Basic yes but very easily forgotten! So this was the mistake I made yesterday, with yesterdays recipe being chicken and smoked sausage gumbo from Louisiana Real and Rustic by Emeril Lagasse. Emeril is apparently a big deal in America but I’ve never heard of him, I only picked this book up because I wanted a book on New Orleans food and this happened to be in a second hand book store. Never used it since. Anyway, after spending most of yesterday either asleep or watching TV (a productive day), I finally decided to get off my arse and cook dinner at 7pm. Halfway through chopping peppers, celery and onions I looked halfway down the instructions and saw I needed to simmer it for one hour before adding the meat. Alright, I thought, thats fine, dinner will be a little later than normal but I can live with that. Reading further down I then saw that once the meat is in, it needs another 2 hours simmering. What the?! So this gumbo would not be ready until 10pm? I’m in bed at 10 on a Sunday night, I’m that lame. Nothing could be done about this unfortunate turn of events though, the meat was defrosted (I’d swapped the chicken for duck randomly, so definitely wouldn’t be throwing away the more expensive meat), vegetables chopped and the base sauce of the dish already bubbling away. Too far gone to give up now! Like a trooper I laboured on, and in the time needed to cook everything I managed to dye my hair and clean the fridge, so it ended up being very productive. It’s a shame the dish wasn’t worth the amount of time I had to spend on it. I’ve never had an authentic gumbo, having never been to Louisiana thats not exactly difficult, but I made one before from Jamies’ America cookbook and I have to say that was a lot better. The chef from Essex cooks a better Louisiana gumbo than the chef from Louisiana, what a pity. If you don’t know what gumbo is, it’s a traditional Cajun stew which can include pretty much any meat or seafood, depending what you have on you, as well as a variety of vegetables, but always with a base of celery, peppers and onions. That parts non-negotiable. It’s a really thick dish and can be spicy, but this recipe wasn’t and I think it really should be as good Cajun food tends to have a lot of spice in it. I have absolutely loads of this leftover, and I halved the recipe to serve 2 instead of 4, so it looks like I’ll be having mediocre gumbo for lunch all week. Lucky me. This recipe just makes me want to fly out to New Orleans to experience authentic gumbo rather than go to the effort of cooking it again, so far not too impressed with this cookbook. As you can see, it doesn’t look very appetising either:
Still, cooking it kept me from tearing my hair out from excessive boredom. I know I spent the last blog entry raving about having some time to myself, but by 3pm Sunday I’d had enough of me, so won’t be doing that again in a hurry if I can help it.