Today about half of the cousins go up the Estes aerial tram while most of the rest go horseback riding. Initially I’m worried that it’s a tourist trap, but it turns out to be a great place: rocks to climb, a breathtaking view, even a trail we don’t end up having time for. Then we head down to the Alluvial Fan for our last excursion in the Rockies, and spend the evening laughing, chatting and playing corn hole (bean bag toss) and Nerts (um, that one defies definition).
Today’s featured recipe: Agatha’s Gumbo, provided by her grandchildren Russ and Eric.
(with variations and comments from the boys, who grew up in Louisiana, to
confuse clarify the matter.)
- 4 large onions, white or yellow, chopped
- 1-2 bulbs of garlic, minced
- 4 bunches green onion, chopped
- 4 bell peppers, any color, chopped
- 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 sticks margarine (Imperial, Rusty says)
- 2 c. flour (non-rising)–sift so it’s super-fine. “You don’t want lumpy roux,” says Eric. “It goes faster,” says Russ.
- 3-4 bunches flat-leaf parsley. (Eric likes cilantro, but only 1/2-1 bunch. He also puts cinnamon sticks in his. “Dear God! says Rusty. “You’re messed up!”)
Instructions to make the roux:
Rusty: The parsley, you chop up fine and put it in a bowl off to the side. The garlic you chop up and put in a bowl as well.
All the other vegetables, you put them in one big-ass bowl by themselves, and you melt the margarine down over high heat and slowly add the flour while stirring swiftly with a whisk. You have to stir and stir and stir for about 45 minutes. As it gets hot enough it turns to a liquid. When it gets to the layer of darkness you want, you dump all the vegetables in and turn it down to simmer. (Eric: it’s close to the color of chocolate syrup. Rusty: careful, you go too damned dark, it’s too damned dark! Eric: It starts turning very, very quickly.)
Russ: Dump the vegetables in about a third at a time and stir it up. After you’ve stirred all that, then you add your garlic, let that simmer down until they all release their liquid, and then in the last 5 minutes of cooking, you add the parsley and garlic. Then you use as much as you want. It’s a thickener, a base, with the vegetable seasoning.
Eric: Simultaneously, you want to be starting your stock. You boil your chicken, one bouillon cube to every two pieces of chicken. (For our group of around twenty-five, they used 10 chicken thighs, 6 bouillon cubes, and enough water to submerge it, plus 4 pounds of Andouille sausage.)
Rusty: I cut up half the Andouille into slices and cook it with the chicken. The other half I kept chopped up to add later. You can’t have too much water. Once the chicken’s tender, I fish them out, strip the skin, and the grease comes to the top and you skim it off. What you can’t skim, put paper towels down to soak up the oil. Put in the second half of the Andouille then.
Then you put it all together: meat, broth, roux. We used about 2/3 of the roux. You salt and pepper to taste. Use Cajun seasoning if you can find it. (They used both black and red pepper.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and let it cook for 5 hours. If you want you can throw eggs in, too. Eric: “I wouldn’t do that.” Russ: “Well, I wouldn’t put cinnamon in it!”
Kate’s comments: In the end, it makes a stew in which you remove the bones. The chicken should pull apart. You can serve it with rice–Rusty pulled some of the broth to cook the rice in–and with crackers.