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Day 23: Christmas Gumbo

This post marks Day 23 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.

In my neighborhood, 'tis the season of the big carp slaughter. Apparently it's traditional for Polish folks to eat fresh carp for Christmas (part of the traditional "fish on holy days" tradition, no doubt) so the fishes are currently swimming about in cold-water pools waiting to be chopped up for dinners across the 'hood.

Likewise, in Italy, southern folks celebrate the feast of the seven fishes over the holidays.

I, too, think of the sea when I think of Christmas. My mom's family has a tradition having to do with eggs and herring roe (one I generally skip), but I appreciate the idea of honoring this season with the fruits of the sea.

Thus, I propose a seafood gumbo, one with red, white and green colors (for the sake of festivity) and fresh shrimp or clams (for the sake of tradition).

Onions & Peppers

Christmas Gumbo

This recipe feeds many, doesn't cost much to make and comes together without much fuss. In fact, the biggest pain is in the vegetable chopping — a task which may be farmed out to any eager-to-help holiday guests.
Christmas Gumbo (Serves 5-6)
1 lb sausage (chicken, pork or seafood)
3 Tbsp bacon fat or olive oil
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, diced
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 to 3 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or less, if you're sensitive)
1 pound okra (fresh or frozen), sliced in 1/2" pieces
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock or water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb shell-on shrimp and/or 6 to 8 clams (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt to taste
6 to 8 cups cooked rice (for serving)

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot or a dutch oven over medium heat, cook the sausage in the bacon fat or olive oil until it begins to brown.
2. Remove the sausage from the pan, add the flour to the pan oils and stir well to incorporate the flour into the fat. Cook the flour mixture 3 to 5 minutes or until it begins to turn golden.
3. Add the onions, bell pepper pieces, celery and bay leaf to the pot and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring well to cook evenly.
4. Add the cayenne, okra, tomatoes and the stock (or water) and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the okra is very tender, about 30 minutes.
5. Add the wine and simmer for another 10 minutes.
6. Bring the pot to a boil and add the shrimp or clams (if using). Cover and cook about 3 to 5 minutes — just long enough until the cook through and/or the clams have opened.
7. Stir in the chopped parsley and adjust salt the and/or cayenne, if necessary. Serve hot over rice.

Serve with a sliced baguette, a crisp green salad and a glass of dry white wine or cold ale. The seasonal ales with some spice and citrus go nicely with this dish.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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12.23.2008

Food Quote Friday: Otto von Bismarck

I love sausage
Sausages & cornichon at Le Baron Rouge, Paris

"Those who love sausage and obey the law should not watch either being made."

Otto von Bismarck

Find more spicy food quotes here.

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12.28.2007

Insert Your Wurst Pun Here







Ketchup? Check. A peck of mustard? Yep. Hot sauce? Sure. Cumin-pineapple relish? Well, why not?

All that's on offer at the condiment counter. Still, of all the tempting tastes at Broome Street's spanking new Broome Doggs, the most exciting was indubitably the currywurst sauce. Tomato-y, zippy, earthy. Like ketchup after a trek down the spice trail.

"They're all over the place in Germany. They're crazy for them there," attending dog slinger Todd told us, slopping a generous portion of spicy red glaze across a steaming dog. "Really. Look it up on the web. Just type in 'currywurst' and you'll find all kinds of stuff."

Todd did not lead us astray. Said to be one of VW's biggest products (at least in Wolfsburg), the saucy, spicy currywurst is apparently the most popular fast food dish in Germany. Berlin even goes so far as to host a Currywurst Museum, and a documentary homage exists within "The Best of the Wurst."

My favorite of the Currywurst worship pages might be this one, in which we discover that, "First you learn german (sic), then you may have a Currywurst." Brilliant incentive program.

Folks with DIY impulses should investigate one of the many recipes out on the interwebs.

Broome Doggs
250 Broome St.
(Btwn Orchard & Ludlow)
917.453.6013

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9.20.2005

Beer. Garden. Sausage. What more could you want?

A sausage in Astoria

For the few New Yorkers not heading out of the city for the weekend, the City conspires to treat you to its richest display of hospitality. Stinky piles of garbage? Gone. Stuffy, crowded subways? Fuggetaboutit. Stifling heat and humidity wafting up from the asphalt? A fuzzy memory.

The weather promises unparalleled beauty, the streets will be uncharacteristically quiet, parks and restaurants will be joyfully unpopulated and Czech beer will flow in a big backyard in Queens.

Sit under the trees, observe the rich cross-section of humanity at nearby tables, eat a juicy sausage, drink a cold beer and offer up a toast to yourself. You've had the foresight to realize that zipping around on the subway is superior to sitting in a hot metal box on the L.I.E.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
29-19 24th Ave
Astoria, Queens
718-274-4925
bohemianhall.com

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9.02.2005