Meet Michelle from Ms. enPlace | Love Bakes Good Cakes
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Meet Michelle from Ms. enPlace

Hi y'all! While I'm moving and getting adjusted, some of my bloggy friends have written posts for me! I hope you enjoy this series and find some wonderful new blogs to follow! A big hug and thank you to the bloggers who have stepped in for me during my absence. :) Today, let me introduce you to Michelle from Ms. enPlace:

Hi.  I'm Michelle from Ms. enPlace.  I've been blogging for 4 years, but this is my first guest post.  Thank you, Jamie for having me on your lovely blog!

I grew up in New Orleans and also lived in Lafayette, LA (Cajun country) for a time.  Now I live west of Lafayette--even deeper in Cajun country.  This time of year means one thing: getting ready for Mardi Gras.  Below is a post from the start of carnival season 2011 (minus dates and schedules that weren't applicable).  Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!

Just the first few opening notes of Al Johnson's classic gets any New Orleanian in the carnival spirit!

Did you know that Carnival season (as it's often called in New Orleans) starts January 6?  This is Twelfth Night, 12 days after Christmas.  It's also the day bakeries have King Cakes ready.  (Although, like everything else--from Easter baskets to Christmas decorations--King Cakes are now available well before Carnival season starts.)

Here in Cajun country, Mardi Gras is just that...Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.  There may be a few street dances on Lundi Gras (Shrove Monday).  And my town holds a boucherie on the Sunday before Mardi Gras.  But this is definitely not a season* of parades and parties like in New Orleans.  *While kick-off is a set date of Jan 6, the length varies from year to year

Sometimes I miss the non-stop action.  Sometimes, when I choose to acknowledge reality, I know it would just exhaust me.

So I'm aiming for a happy medium.  Yes, January 6th is the official start.  But I don't start making plans until we're about a month away.

In New Orleans, everybody knows somebody who lives along a parade route.  Friends and family gather early ("buhfore da parade traffic, dawlin'"), share food & fun, watch the parade together, linger a while after ("tuh wait out da traffic").  A parade is an all day/night event!

Today, it's a dish that's good for feeding such crowds:

Red Bean Gumbo

Mise en place for Red Bean Gumbo
the usual suspects: onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic
smoked sausage, pickle meat,
vegetable oil & flour for the roux
chicken stock, kidney beans,
salt, black pepper, red pepper, Tony's, bay leaves,
parsley, green onion, cooked rice

Standard gumbo procedure:
make sure everything is chopped before starting your roux
and don't use a non-stick pot!

Go here for step-by step roux making.
One thing I've never addressed about making a roux is this...
part way through making a dark roux,
it may get clumpy and grainy (bottom left).
Just keep on truckin', stirring away, and it will smooth out in no time
(bottom right)

I'll say it again because it's important: have everything chopped and ready.
Roux waits for no man (or woman)! 
The best way to burn it is to be caught with your pants down.
Yep...that would most definitely burn.

After cooking the veg down in your roux, add the meats.
I used hot smoked sausage and leftover pickle meat from the freezer (from the white beans I recently made).
If pickle meat is unavailable, use salt pork, ham hocks, smoked turkey legs, or pork neck bones for seasoning.  Or just throw in some extra sausage.

The beans...
I decided to puree half and leave the other half whole.
It's a texture thing.  I like texture.
The pureed beans added a nice creamy, velvety feel,
while the whole beans added a different dimension.

I had a little trouble getting the pureed beans to blend in.  I'd suggest whisking them into the chicken stock, then adding everything, including your spices to the pot.  Simmer about 2 hours to all day.

About the rice to gumbo ratio...
Gumbo is not gravy!
There should be much 
more liquid than rice in your bowl.
Add a small mound of rice, ladle the gumbo over, and enjoy!

Printer friendly recipe
Red Bean Gumbo
from Ms. enPlace

1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut in half moons
1/2 lb pickled pork ("pickle meat"), chopped in bite size pieces
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c flour
2 quarts chicken stock
3 cans dark red kidney beans, puree half, leave the other half intact
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Tony's Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup each chopped parsley and green onion
cooked rice

Chop all vegetables before starting the roux.

In a large cast iron or stainless steel pot (don't use non-stick), heat vegetable oil.  When oil is hot, sprinkle in the flour.  Stir constantly but carefully.  Roux can easily burn and burn your skin.  Continue cooking and stirring until the roux is a coppery brown color.  If pools of oil form, sprinkle in more flour and incorporate.

When your roux is the color you'd like (darker = more flavor but less thickening power), quickly add the chopped vegetables.  Sauté until tender, adding a small amount of water or stock if needed.  Add the sausage and pickle meat and sauté for 5-8 minutes.

Stir or whisk the pureed beans into the stock to help blend the mixture.  Pour into the pot along with seasonings and the whole red beans.  Simmer for about 2 hours to all day.

Just before serving, add the parsley and green onion.  Serve over rice.  Pass hot sauce at the table.

Thank you for stopping by, Michelle! :) You can find her on Pinterest, Google+ or follow her blog, HERE.

I hope you enjoy! Shared at these fun parties!

Don't forget to share and comment ♥


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1 comment:

  1. Love following Michelle's Blog posts; great Guest Post. Head up on the nastiness of moving, Jamie! hope it is all going well.


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