• Tommy Centola

Recipe straight out of the bayou

To say that this year has been tough on restaurants would be an understatement. At one time or another, they had to close their doors to the public. Many have reopened to serve their loyal customers. Others have closed for good. K-Paul’s in New Orleans is one that has gone.

In 1979, chef Paul Prudhomme and his wife Kay opened their French Quarter restaurant for lunch, while the chef was still the executive chef of Commander’s Palace. With lines gathering, he left Commander’s to concentrate on his namesake spot. The lines kept getting longer.

The passing of Chef Paul in 2015 had some concerned. His niece Brenda and her husband Chef Paul Miller took over the reins. Actually, Chef Miller had been running the kitchen for quite some time. They first met at Brennan’s in Atlanta. They connected immediately, since they were both from the town of Opelousas. He followed the chef back to Commander’s then to K-Paul’s. The classic recipe I want to share with you today is Chicken and Andouille Gumbo.

Here is a recipe straight out of the bayou. This was on K-Paul’s menu since the restaurant opened. Many people shy away from cooking gumbo because of the roux. Unfortunately, the only way to enjoy this recipe from K-Paul’s is to make it in your kitchen. It is well worth the time spent.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

1 (2 to 3 pound) chicken, cut up

Salt

Garlic powder

Cayenne pepper

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 cup finely chopped green bell peppers

3/4 cup finely chopped celery

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil for deep frying

About 7 cups chicken stock

1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Hot cooked rice

Remove excess fat from the chicken pieces. Rub a generous amount of salt, garlic powder and cayenne on both sides of each piece, making sure each is evenly covered. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the onions, bell pepper and celery; set aside.

Combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne in a paper or plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces and shake until chicken is well coated. Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil until very hot (375 to 400℉). Fry the chicken until crust is brown on both sides and meat is cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes per side; drain on paper towels. Carefully pour the hot oil into a glass measuring cup, leaving as many of the browned particles in the pan as possible. Scrape the pan bottom with a metal whisk to loosen any stuck particles, then return 1/2 cup of the hot oil to the pan.

Place pan over high heat. Using a long-handled metal whisk, gradually stir in the reserved 1/2 cup flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to black, about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Remove from heat and immediately add the reserved vegetable mixture, stirring constantly, until the roux stops getting darker. Return pan to low heat and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly and scraping the pan bottom well.

Meanwhile, place the stock in a 5 1/2 quart saucepan or large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add roux mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Return to a boil, stirring and scraping pan bottom often. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the andouille and minced garlic. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring often towards the end of the cooking time.


While gumbo is simmering, debone the cooked chicken and cut the meat into 1/2-inch dice. When the gumbo is cooked, stir in the chicken and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately over rice.

It’s sad that K-Paul’s had to end like this. Unfortunately, their business relied on tourist. The good news is there are many of Chef Paul’s proteges that are still cooking in New Orleans. Next time, I will share with you how my friend Chef Frank Brigtsen, whom Chef Paul helped in opening his restaurant Brigtsen’s, has weathered the virus.


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