Chef Michelle Meyers of LA's popular Sona restaurant and Boule pastry shop has spent the last two weeks in Houston, Texas, feeding Hurricane Katrina evacuees. She went to offer her cooking services to the Red Cross but was not immediately needed. In the face of the ongoing crucial need for food, a local church donated space. She and two former caterers rented stoves and walk-in refrigerators, and hired plumbers and electricians. The Red Cross referred truck drivers to her small team and the giant food purveyor Sysco opened a small account for them. Now they feed 1000 dinners a day to those stuck in hotels, motels and community centers. The volunteer truck drivers deliver the food to the evacuees, most of whom have no vehicles. Michelle would like to begin serving lunch, satisfy the growing demand for prepared meals and to be able to feed evacuees as long as they are in need. The church is covering the cost of housing the volunteer chefs plus overhead, but needs help paying the costs of the food. Michelle personally guarantees that 100% of donations go directly to this rapidly established food bank. If you-d like to help, send a check to: Gulfhaven SDA Church, 10716 Sabo Road, Houston, Texas 10716 Attn. Katrina Relief Food Bank.
In her Market Report, Laura Avery spoke with Edgar Jaime of Jaime Farm about his gorgeous red okra. If you are interested in making gumbo, try making this recipe and serve it up with Abita Amber or Dixie beer.
Chicken and Okra Gumbo
Eli and Sue-s Recipe from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook by Paul Prudhomme.
Serves 6 as a main dish
- 1 (5-6 lb) stewing chicken, cut up (use the giblets too)
- Seasoning Mix (see below)
- About 1 1/2 cups pork lard, chicken fat, or vegetable oil, in all
- 1 1/2 lbs slice okra, about 2 quarts sliced
- 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- About 3 quarts chicken stock
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 pound Andouille smoked sausage or any other good smoked pure-pork sausage, such as Kielbasa, cut into 1/2- inch slices
- 3 ozs chopped Tasso or other smoked ham, 3/4 cup chopped
- 1 1/2 tsps minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 hard boiled eggs
- 3/4 cup chopped green onions (tops only)
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
- Gumbo file powder, optional
1 Tablespoon plus 1 3/4 tsps salt 1 3/4 tsps garlic powder 1 3/4 tsps ground red pepper (preferably cayenne) 1 3/4 tsps black pepper
- Remove excess fat from the chicken pieces and excess skin from around the neck area. Set aside fat and skin trimmings. Place chicken pieces and giblets in a very large bowl.
- Combine ingredients for seasoning mix in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces and giblets with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of the mix, working it in with your hands. (Reserve remaining mix to finish the dish.) Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Slice the reserved chicken fat and skin trimmings into 1/2 inch pieces to yield about 1 cup. (If necessary, make up the balance with chicken fat, lard or vegetable oil. ) Place fat and skin in a 4-quart saucepan. Cook covered over hight heat until half the mixture is rendered into fat, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If half the mixture is lard or oil, heat mixture until hot.) Add half the okra to the pan, stirring well.
- Cover tightly, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom well. Remove lid and stir well. Increase heat to high and cook uncovered until most of the okra is well browned but some is still green, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom well. (Stir more frequently toward end of cooking time.) Remove from heat and stir in the tomato sauce. Cover pan and set aside while frying the chicken.
- Heat fat or oil 5/8 inch deep in a large skillet over high heat until it starts to smoke, 4 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix with the flour in a paper or plastic bag, mixing well. Just before frying each batch of chicken pieces and giblets, add them to the flour and shake until well coated. Fry the chickenmeaty pieces first with skin side down, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Reserve 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour to make the roux.
- Remove the skillet from heat and let cook about 5 minutes. Spoon out 2 tablespoons of the fat (but not any browned sediment) and heat over high in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet just until it begins to smoke, about 3 minutes. (Discard remaining fat.) With a long-handled metal whisk, whisk in the reserved 1/4 cup seasoned flour; and cook until roux is medium red-brown, about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Be careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until roux is dark red-brown, about 1 minute more, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and continue stirring until roux stops getting darker, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in an 8-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven, bring 1 quart of the stock to a boil over high heat. Add the hot roux by spoonfuls, stirring until well blended before adding more. Add 1 quart more stock and the reserved okra-tomato sauce mixture, stirring well. Add the chicken pieces and giblets. Cover pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to make sure mixture doesn-t scorch. Remove cover and continue boiling about 15 minutes, stirring and scraping occasionally and being careful not to let it scorch.
- Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, Aandouille, Tasso, garlic, and bay leaf, stirring well. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping well each time. Skim fat from surface as it develops. Add the remaining okra and 2 cups more stock and return mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring and scraping frequently.
- Add the hard-boiled eggs, green onions, parsley, and the remaining 1 tablespoon seasoning mix. Cook until chicken is done and tender, about 20 minutes more, stirring and scraping frequently. Note: If your gumbo is very, very thick, thin it with about 2 cups more stock or water; but, remember Sue-s Gumbo is unusually thick-and it-s quite a nice variation! Remove from heat and serve immediately.
- To serve, mound 1/4 cup rice in the middle of each large serving bowl. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups gumbo around the rice and arrange a piece of chicken and half an egg on top. Sprinkle gumbo fil- on top, if desired.
Taras Grescoe, author of The Devil's Picnic : Around the World in Pursuit of Forbidden Fruit, tells Evan about forbidden foods around the world. Taras has also written articles on travel for Cond- Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler and the LA.com: Your City. Your Guide. Insiders Guide to Los Angeles, California, and the New York Times. His first book, Sacr- Blues: An Unsentimental Journey Through Quebec won numerous awards in Canada. He lives in Montreal.
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