The hotel was a Jackson landmark that had been brilliantly redone and the restaurant offered Southern cuisine. Our waiter was adamant that we had to try the great Southern Gumbo, if for no other reason than it was New Year's and the gumbo had black-eyed peas and collard greens, two foods considered to be lucky foods in the South to start the New Year.
After ordering a cup each, we were delighted and could have made a meal of the gumbo. After dinner I immediately set my mind to recreating it for this 37 Cooks challenge. This is not a traditional Louisiana-style gumbo, although it does use some common ingredients. Give it a try, I think you will be surprised!
Southern Gumbo with Bilinski's Chicken Sausage
1 pound dry black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 quart chicken broth
Water to cover
2 bay leaves
Place soaked black-eyed peas in a slow cooker and add chicken broth. Add water to cover peas by 2 inches and add bay leaves. Cook on high until peas are firm but tender, about 4-6 hours depending on slow cooker. Periodically check water level and maintain at 1 inch above the peas. Remove bay leaves.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large finely chopped onion
1 large finely chopped bell pepper
4 stalks finely chopped celery
Place oil in heavy skillet or dutch oven and heat on medium heat. Stir in flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark brown, about 6-8 minutes, being careful not to burn the flour. Add chopped onion, bell pepper and celery and cook until vegetables are soft, constantly stirring mixture. It will be very hot, so carefully add to the cooked black-eyed peas and gently stir so as to not break up the peas.
1 Tablespoon favorite seasoned salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Tablespoon oregano
12-ounce bag cut frozen okra thawed
12-ounce bag cut frozen collard greens thawed
14-ounce can diced tomatoes
12 ounces Bilinski's Kale Balsamic Chicken Sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
12 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp (optional)
Add spices, okra, greens, tomatoes and sausage to the black-eyed peas. Continue to cook for one hour. Gently stir occasionally. Add shrimp and allow to continue to cook until shrimp is done. Serve with rice.