Recipe for Health, Wealth & Good Fortune

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For many Americans, New Year's means parties, football, and watching the ball drop in Times Square. But for others here and around the world the celebration wouldn't be complete without certain delicious traditional foods.

In Italy, the people welcome the New Year by tossing old things out of their windows to make room for the new and luck to enter their lives in the upcoming year. In food traditions, the Italian people cook up a dish called Cotechino Con Lenticchie: pork sausage served over lentils. This dish is eaten because of the presence of fatty rich pork sausage and lentils in the dish. Cotechino sausage is a symbol of abundance because they are rich in fat; while the coin-shaped lentils symbolize money. It is delicious.

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Cotechino Con Lenticchie: Pork Sausage Served over Lentils

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

This hearty and satisfying dish is traditionally eaten on New Year's Day to bring abundance and fortune. Cotechino is an Italian fresh pork sausage. It is creamy and delicate in flavor. It is sometimes sold precooked or boiled but the best ones are fresh. If you can't find cotechino a high quality fresh pork sausage flavored with nutmeg, cloves and pepper will suffice. 

1 pound cotechino, pork sausage
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 large carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
8 whole black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 pound dry green lentils
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped 

Pierce the cotechino with a fork in several places. 

Pre heat a large pot and add olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, carrot, 1 bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme. Simmer vegetables for two minutes and add cotechino, cook two minutes and add lentils, cover with 4 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 45 to 50 minutes or until lentils are soft. Add additional water if necessary. 

Remove the bay leaf and discard. Spoon the lentils into a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and slice rounds of the cotechino over the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve. 

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GameDay Gumbo

A good gumbo takes time, a great gumbo takes longer…

Whether it’s a stew or soup-like, there is nothing more satisfying than a hearty bowl of Gumbo..

Gumbo is truely Cajun and the official state dish of Louisiana; one that celebrates their heritage of sustenance off the land. There are numerous ingredients that can be added to a gumbo, but it's really all about utilizing what’s on hand. Chicken, duck + rabbit are the usual meats, along with ham and sausage. A seafood gumbo can contain shrimp, crab and oysters. However, the basics ingredients used in any gumbo are the “holy trinity” consisting of onion, celery and green peppers, thickened with a dark roux.  

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Additionally, the make up of a Cajun Gumbo is the use of heritage ingredients such as the African vegetable okra, together with the cooking influences of local Choctaw Indians, French, German and Spanish settlers. The addition of tomatoes is more Creole and not of Cajun influence. I believe the addition of tomatoes with all the other ingredients in the gumbo pot provides a wonderful mix of culture and full flavor. With such a rich culture as Louisiana has it is important to note that the preparing of a gumbo goes far beyond the making of this ‘stew’ and really brings together the community.  

This new kind of gumbo may just be stepping back to the Cajun way - with everyone contributing to the pot for the goodess of the stew.

For MY GUMBO RECIPE

A good gumbo takes time, a great gumbo takes longer. 

So what’s the hurry? I learned this lesson first hand from some good Cajun friends who take the better part of a day assembling, cooking and stirring the gumbo pot. Results of this time honored patience is a great ol’ time exchanging conversation and stories with friends along with a brat or two and some chilled long necks until the gumbo is served.  

GameDay Gumbo Recipe | Adapted from Gather ‘round the Grill

Makes 8-10 servings 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 pound whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces; or substitute 4 boneless thighs or breasts

1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, chopped

3 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

8 cups chicken broth

1 Tablespoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon thyme, sea salt

2 bay leaves

1 cup okra, fresh or frozen, sliced

1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled & deveined

2 teaspoons gumbo file powder dissolved in 1/4 cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, rough choppedf

Fresh ground black pepper

Heat a large soup pot to a medium temperature. Add olive oil and chicken and cook on all sides until light brown. 

Add sausage and brown. Add butter, melt then add flour and cook for 10 minutes stirring until the roux (flour & butter) is light brown. 

Add the onion, and cook until a light golden color, stirring occasionally. Add the green bell pepper, green onion, celery, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. 

Add the canned tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, parsley, hot sauce, thyme, bay leaves, sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Bring the gumbo to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. 

Remove chicken and reserve until cool. If using bone-in chicken remove meat from chicken bones and chop chicken meat into 1/2 inch pieces  and return meat to soup pot. Simmer gently for 2 additional hours. 

Remove bay leaves, add okra and simmer ten minutes. Add shrimp five minutes before serving. Mix in the dissolved gumbo file. 

Serving suggestion: Serve with a scoop of steamy hot rice, top with additional parsley and chopped green onions. 

Note: Gumbo file can be found in the spice section of your supermarket.