Eric Arceneaux, the executive chef of the Big Eddy Club, grew up in Lafayette, La. He said he had two career choices — become a chef or work on an oil rig. He chose to cook. Arceneaux, though a classically trained French chef, loves to cook the food he grew up eating. So he added several Cajun dishes to the menu at the private club in Green Island Hills.
Today, he’s demonstrating how make Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo. A gumbo is a Cajun soup containing cooked roux. It’s thickened with okra or gumbo filé (ground fried sassafras leaves). Cooks can use a variety of vegetables and meats or seafood. It’s poured over rice. Many people will top it with a little more filé.
Arceneaux marinates the duck breast and smokes it over low heat for about four hours. He finishes it in the oven for another two hours to render the fat. The andouille is smoked, pure pork sausage and is available at many grocery stores. Tasso, a highly seasoned smoked Cajun ham, is a little more difficult to find. He recommends going online to find it.
SMOKED DUCK AND
1 1 /4 cup flour 1 1 /2 cup butter 3 /4 cup finely chopped celery 1 cup finely chopped green bell peppers 1 cup finely chopped onion 1 /2 teaspoon salt 1 /2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 /2 teaspoon cayenne red pepper 7 cups chicken stock (can used store-bought stock, but try to find the low sodium) 2 smoked duck breasts, thinly sliced 2 andouille sausage links, thinly sliced 1 cup okra, cut into 1 /2-inch thick slices Filé powder to taste
Over medium high heat, make a dark brown roux with the butter and flour. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour a little at a time. Cook the roux until dark brown. Make sure you do not burn it by stirring it constantly.
Add the celery, bell peppers and onion and cook until the vegetables are done. Add the spices (salt, garlic powder, red pepper). Mix well. Add the stock a little at a time. Make sure everything is mixed well.
About the time you want to eat, add the duck and andouille. Cook until the meats are warmed through.
Add the okra and let cook, but not too long. You don’t want it to turn slimy. Add the file powder to taste.
Pour the gumbo over rice and serve. Serves eight.