Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2010 Challenge: Kanno Gumbo

Gumbo has been on the brain. Why shouldn't it be? The temperature is down right frigid and that North wind is already howling across the lake. Last week we woke up to brisk weather and before we had even made it out of the house, Lindsay asked, "Can you make gumbo this weekend?"

Why yes, yes I can. But first we swung by Kanno where we ran into among other plebians, Dread Pirate Robert. It is really cute how the proprietor, Hide, sets out a "Reserved" sign on the corner of the bar for him. Color us impressed with his clout. First course was a dark, fragrant bowl of soft shell crab miso soup. The color and flavor of the soup had more in common with gumbo than the austere soups most often showcased by Japanese restaurants. It was heady and rich with a high level of spice. Just what we needed to get over the draft that the Pirate brought in with him.

Couple this experience with an ongoing Twitter conversation with Chef Mary Sonnier about gumbos and, in particular, her husband's duck and kale gumbo. Shoot we just had to make a roux and do something with it. 

Heat Seeking Duck and Kale Gumbo

Begin with a whole duck that you have washed and dried thoroughly. Take a paring knife and prick the skin all over - just the tip, just for a second. This will help the fat render out, resulting in a cleaner stock, and bonus DUCK FAT. My advice to you is to begin salting this duck...heavily. Little pepper as well. Then into a roasting pan or cast iron skillet and a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Drop temp to 350 for another 15 minutes. You may or may not want to baste this bird with the rendered fat.

Take duck out of oven, let cool, and pull meat from carcass. Reserve the skin and use as a snack. Strain the fat from the roasting pan into a bowl and use for anything you want. Place carcass into a stock pot with some mire poix, white wine, 4 whole peppercorns, 2 bay leafs, and the stems from the kale that you cut and washed while the bird roasted. Cover with cold water. Simmer this for about 3 hours, skimming fat and foam as it rises from surface. Strain, place stock into a clean pot, and keep warm.

Make a roux (equal parts flour and fat, use all purpose and canola for gumbo). I want it to be the color of an old mahogany bookshelf in your grandfather's office so pull up a stool and relax. After the roux is made, add to it the Trinity, finely diced. Saute for about 10 minutes. Then add at least a half tablespoon of cayenne, 4 garlic cloves (minced), a sprig of green onion (chopped), salt, and pepper. Throwing in a bay leaf here would also not be a bad idea. Stir this around and breathe in the aroma of success. Now whisk in your hot stock. I like to start with a small amount. This helps meld the roux and stock together. I used about 6 cups of stock, it made plenty. Bring this to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Toss in your duck meat and the kale. Let cook for about 15 minutes more or all day.

Taste, adjust seasoning and serve with white rice, sliced green onions, parsley, hot sauce, and most importantly, cold beer.

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