You’ve got your wings, your nachos, your 6-foot sub — all of those fan-favorite, tried-and-true Super Bowl party foods. But what if you want to think — and cook — out of the box for Sunday’s big game? Here’s an idea: gumbo. The signature stew of New Orleans — which, as you surely know, is Giants quarterback Eli Manning’s hometown — is as easy to make and versatile as a pot of chili.
Chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis grew up on gumbo. A native of Georgia who spent her childhood in Louisiana and got her formal culinary training in France, Willis draws on both Southern and French influences in her cooking. Her latest book, “Basic to Brilliant Y’All,” includes dishes like Southern ratatouille, pork belly with French market red-eye gravy, and Creole country bouillabaisse — in addition to recipes that are either classically French or purely Southern. The “brilliant” piece is the tip at the end of each recipe that elevates it from a weeknight “basic” to make it worthy of a special occasion.
For her gumbo recipe, Willis uses duck; when she was a child, that was a wild bird, hunted by her father. Now, of course, we can find duck in the supermarket, but you can substitute chicken if you prefer. Either way, putting gumbo on your Super Bowl menu may just take it from basic to brilliant.
LOUISIANA DUCK GUMBO
From “Basic to Brilliant Y’All”: “This flavorful stew can feature any number of main ingredients, most commonly shrimp, crab, chicken, duck and sausage. Many of the ingredients are harvested from the Gulf, local lakes and rivers, or produced on the farm.”
½ cup canola oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 onions, preferably Vidalia, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 poblano or green bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ teaspoon Creole seasoning blend
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
4 cups homemade chicken stock, or reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
1 (4-to-5 pound) duck, cut into 8 pieces, excess skin removed and reserved for cracklings if desired
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Hot cooked rice
1 tablespoon filé powder
½ cup green onions, chopped
Heat the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook to create the roux, stirring occasionally, until it is deep chocolate in color, 30 to 45 minutes.
Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Add half of the mixed vegetables to the roux. Cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the Creole seasoning, hot sauce, Worcestershire and andouille. Stir to combine. Add the stock and stir until the sauce is smooth.
Add the duck pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
Add the remaining vegetables and simmer until the meat is falling off the bone, about 1 hour.
For duck skin cracklings: Slice the reserved duck skin into slivers. Cook the skin in a skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered, turning the pieces over several times until skin is crisp. Drain cracklings on paper towels.
Remove the duck pieces from the pot. Discard the skin and pull the meat from the bones. Return the meat to the pot. Taste the gumbo and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
To serve: Ladle the gumbo over rice in bowls. Top each serving with the filé powder, green onions and cracklings.
Nutrition information per serving (gumbo only, without cracklings): 915 calories (61 percent from fat), 61 grams fat (9 grams saturated, 17 grams monounsaturated), 233 milligrams cholesterol, 73 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 341 milligrams sodium.
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- This recipe is easily doubled or even tripled to serve a crowd.
- My roux did not turn “deep chocolate brown” – after 45 minutes it was more of a dark amber, but I went ahead with the rest of the recipe.
- Most gumbo recipes include some sort of seafood along with poultry and sausage. Feel free to add a pound of medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, at the last minute – they will need only about a minute to cook in the hot gumbo.
- Chicken can be substituted for the duck, but don’t try to make the cracklings out of chicken skin – the fat content isn’t high enough.
- I cut the whole duck up myself, but the butcher department at your supermarket should be willing to do it for you.
- The gumbo is even tastier if made the day before you plan to serve it; it gives the flavors a chance to mellow. If you do this, leave the duck pieces in and pull the meat from the bones before you reheat it. Making it in advance also allows the fat to come to the surface, which can then be skimmed off easily.