One Pot Dishes

Easy crowd pleasers like chili, gumbo and soup are the way to go for Mardi Gras

Kitchengourmet Chili

Mardi Gras is early this year, which is unfortunate for bakeries since they will have a short king cake season. For celebrants, the Feb. 21 date virtually guarantees the weather will be damp and cold. In addition to booze, parade-goers will need plenty of substantial hot food to help carry them through the day.

Fried chicken is a popular parade food, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to get up early to fry your own when you can buy boxes of it from “you know where.” With family and guests coming and going between parades, one-pot dishes are ideal party food. They can be prepared a day or two in advance and reheated on the big day. They are warming and filling, and they’re better after a day or two in the refrigerator. Gumbos, chili and soups fit the bill nicely. Rice and cornbread or biscuits are welcome accompaniments.

If you don’t have a favorite recipe, this chicken and sausage gumbo is simple to make and yields a tasty end result. I like chicken thighs for their flavor. Using chicken stock or broth in place of water is a great flavor enhancer, and prepared roux is a great time saver. Some cooks omit filé, but I think it adds another layer of flavor.

When making chili, choose ground beef that doesn’t have a high percentage of fat. If there’s a lot of fat, you’ll have to skim it a lot, and when you do, you’ll be discarding flavorful seasonings along with the fat. I like to use chipotle chili powder and smoked paprika for the smokey flavor they impart. You can thicken chili with cornmeal or masa, but I prefer cracker meal, which is virtually impossible to find at retail. To substitute, place saltines in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

The kale soup is one of my favorites. It’s a very flavorful (and healthful) combination of white beans, smoked sausage, kale and potatoes, and it’s a cinch to make.

When the weather is cold and damp, my thoughts turn to navy bean soup, which is just the right tonic for a blustery day. The soup is often made with a ham bone or ham stock, and if you have either, feel free to substitute for the andouille and chicken stock. Either way, you’ll have a delicious soup.

 

Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
3 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons crushed saltines
coarse salt to taste

In a heavy casserole, cook onions in oil, stirring until browned. Add ground beef and cook, stirring frequently until browned. Puree tomatoes and their juice in blender; add to pot, along with water, garlic, chipotle chili pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano and black pepper.

Simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crushed saltines and stir to thicken chili. Season to taste with salt.
Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Kitchengourmet Kale

Kale Soup

1 cup great northern beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound smoked sausage, sliced
6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 bunch kale
2 medium potatoes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
cayenne pepper

Sort beans and rinse. Place beans in bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a heavy pot, cook onion and garlic in oil until softened. Add sausage, chicken stock and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Strip kale from stems. Discard stems, wash kale and chop coarsely. Add to pot. Peel potatoes and cut into bite-size pieces. Add potatoes to pot and simmer until potatoes and kale are tender. Season to taste with salt and peppers.
Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Navy Bean

And Andouille Soup
1 cup navy beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
¹/³ pound andouille sausage, diced
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 bay leaf
¹/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped scallions, green part only

Cover beans with water and soak overnight. Drain.

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine oil, onion, garlic, pepper, celery and andouille, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beans, chicken stock or broth, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are softened, about 40 minutes. Using the back of a large spoon, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken soup. Cook until soup is creamy, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add parsley and scallions. If soup is too thick, thin with additional broth or water.
Makes 4-6 servings.

 

Chicken And Sausage Filé Gumbo

10 cups chicken stock or broth
5 pounds chicken thighs
1 pound smoked sausage
¼ cup dark roux
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper
¼ cup chopped green onion tops
¼ cup chopped parsley
filé
hot sauce

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large pot, bring chicken stock or broth and chicken to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 30-45 minutes. Slice sausage and place on a rimmed sheet pan. Bake in preheated oven until sausage is browned, about 10-15 minutes. Drain cooked sausage on absorbent paper and set aside.

Remove chicken to a platter or pan to cool. Bring stock back to a boil. Add roux and whisk to dissolve. Reduce heat and skim fat from surface. Add garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, separate chicken meat from skin and bones. Tear or cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Add chicken and sausage to pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Skim fat from surface. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Add green onions and parsley. Serve in large, shallow bowls with steamed rice. Let each guest add filé and hot sauce to taste.
Makes about 8 servings.