Fried Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

When Mardi Gras rolls around, I think of three dishes: King Cake, Jambalaya, and today’s meal: gumbo. If you’ve never had a good gumbo, you’re missing out–it is one of those quintessential Cajun/Creole stews that every chef can put their own personal touch on. The one commonality across them all is that it will keep you going during the winter months being so rich and hearty.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

In this particular rendition, I chose a classic combo: chicken and andouille sausage (compared to a lighter, butternut squash-centric version I did in the past).

A whole chicken is poached to make a fresh batch of stock, then shredded, strongly spiced, fried, and combined with fried, smoky andouille sausage. The stew is thickened with both okra and a nutty, smoky, milk chocolate colored roux. Simmered with a mix of some classic Creole vegetables and spices yields an incredibly intense stew that tastes incredible. The gumbo takes… click to read more…

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Indian Spiced Pear & Butternut Squash Soup

Every time of year brings memories of a few dishes with it that we all quietly pine for. Autumn and butternut squash is that mystical combo for my wife and I. In general, butternut squash soup is a pretty simple and straightforward thing, but to keep this from becoming something we grow tired of, I like to change it up every time I make it. In this case, I wanted a light starter as a prelude to a bigger dinner, but still something big and bold on flavor.

Indian Spiced Pear & Butternut Squash Soup

This soup was a delicious way to start a meal. It looks deceptively simple (like any other butternut squash soup), but has a surprisingly complex flavor. The pear added an almost unnameable but distinct tangy sweetness while the peppers and assortment of spices lent an incredibly full flavored back drop to the whole experience. I didn’t want to stick with the usual assortment of “pumpkin pie spices”… click to read more…

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Bean and Quinoa Chili

After having finally tried my hands at making beans the real way rather than from a can, I’ve been meaning to do it again because man oh man were those good. I wanted to do something more than just feature beans as a side dish though, so I decided to try to make them the star of one of my favorite meals: chili. Since this wasn’t going to be loaded up with beef like I’m used to though, I thought I needed to ensure there was still a good amount of protein, so in addition to the beans, I also added some quinoa after seeing the two together.

Bean and Quinoa Chili

Now I realize this meal could have gone all vegetarian, but I couldn’t help myself–I live in swine country, so I used a bit of pork for seasoning (some chorizo and fatback) to enrich the flavor of the dish. The result… click to read more…

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Chipotle, Cheddar, and Chorizo Corn Chowder

I love when corn is in season. I tend not to cook with it all that much–I usually just grill it by the day and eat it straight off the cob. But after seeing this chipotle corn chowder, I knew I had to do something similar. I originally planned to replicate the recipe as is, but as I started making changes, I found I was tending to add a bit of a South American flare to it, so I ran with it.

Chipotle, Cheddar, and Chorizo Corn Chowder

Now I had no interest in making a soup–I wanted a chowder, and a chowder needs a bit more body to it. So to add a thick, starchy base, I opted for green plantains instead of the usual suspects like roux or potatoes (although I did add a bit of corn meal, but hey, its a corn chowder, so that’s different, right?). Melting cheddar into the soup towards the end also added a bit… click to read more…

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Sweet Potato Beef & Peanut Soup

I was intrigued when I first read of an African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup. Firstly, I know close to nothing of African cuisine, secondly, I love peanuts, and thirdly, I hardly ever use peanuts outside of breakfast/dessert applications (usually as peanut butter, yum!), so really, there was a lot to this that caught my eye. Of course, tinkering with the soup a bit here and there, I’m not sure if its quite the same African peanut soup any more, but its definitely a keeper.

Sweet Potato Beef & Peanut Soup

Somewhat to my surprise, this soup reminded me of red Thai curries I’ve had before. The sweet potato base of the soup gave a great heartiness while the mix of ginger, peppers, peanut, and coconut added that creamy/tangy/spicy blend of flavors that so strongly evoked thoughts of Thai for me. Was it precisely what I intended? No. Was I disappointed? Definitely not. I would describe this as a sweet potato version of… click to read more…

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Seco de Carne con Tamarindo (South American Tamarind Beef Stew)

During the later parts of pregnancy, my wife has had a thing for beef. Being the spectacular husband that I am, I happily catered to this craving. I kept getting stuck on stewy/braise kind of dishes, so in looking for something new and interesting to try, I came across something that fed my stew craze while bringing something new and interesting to the party. In this case, this beef stew (called a “seco”) has Ecuadorian/South American roots, flavored in a big way with tamarind.

Seco de Carne con Tamarindo

My initial concern was that this would just greatly resemble chili and be nothing super exciting (and don’t me wrong–I am nuts about chili…its just not what I was aiming for this go around). Not so. This was very distinct and simply awesome. I am a lover of all beef stews, and this one really stood out for me. Why? The tamarind! I love the stuff–it has this sweet/sour/citrusy taste… click to read more…

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