February is for Mardi Gras, Carnival parades, and snow?! Sami and Dwayne Owens have an authentic gumbo recipe that's been passed around the family for decades. This particular recipe was given to the Owens family by Louis Kirschoff and has been a staple in their kitchen for over 18 years. In fact, Dwayne recently learned how to make his own andouille sausage.
Sami said, "Dwayne makes the sausage from a pork butt that's been smoked. Then, grinds it into Paul Prudhomme's sausage recipe and puts it into casings. It's a process that takes approximately two days to complete. Yep, he's competing with Paul Prudhomme."
Competing with Paul Prudhomme is quite the lofty goal but Sami admits that Dwayne's andouille is tastier than the Cajun Kings. If you're unfamiliar with Prudhomme, he's an American celebrity chef known for his Cajun and Creole cuisines and has been credited for popularizing it.
As the story goes...
Kirschoff lived in the west end of Paducah and was neighbors with Dr. Dennis Owens, obstetrician/gynecologist in Paducah, KY. It was Dr. Owens who shared the recipe with his brother Dwayne and dad Jim. The gumbo was so well-liked by Jim Owens that he requested his sons learn how to make the recipe from start to finish. Jim wanted his sons to slow down and perfect the roux, the most important ingredient in authentic gumbo.
Kirschoff owned Kirschoff's bakery and deli in downtown Paducah. It was a family-owned business that opened its doors in 1873 by Louis' great-grandfather Franz Kirschoff. After a closure, Louis and his daughter reopened the bakery in 1997. The famous bakery, known for its delicious artisan bread, famous baked treats, and wonderful lunch combos, had always been a favorite in Paducah. The family sold the business in 2019. Louis Kirschoff died this past December from natural causes.
Sami and Dwayne have been a couple for 18 years. (together 10 and married eight). Both have a tremendous love of food and enjoy cooking for friends, family, or just the two of them. For years, Sami had a catering business and still throws a party from time to time.
This weekend her niece Miranda Walker is having a Mardi Gras-themed wedding and Sami and Dwayne are providing the food. Part of the festive menu includes the famous gumbo from Kirschoff.
Sami said, "I've had that recipe hanging in my garage for over 18 years." She said after Dr. Owens shared the recipe with Dwayne and their dad, every time the family headed down south to vacation on the gulf, they made the gumbo. With all the fresh seafood, who could resist.
Ingredients: Modified from "Cooking Across the South" Serves 12
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
8 stalks of celery, chopped
3 onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 pound sliced okra
3 Tbs. shortening
2 quarts chicken stock
2 quarts of shrimp stock
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. hot sauce
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 large tomato, chopped
1 Tbs. salt
2 slices of ham, chopped (Cured Tasso or smoked ham)
1 pound of andouille sausage or polish (Kielbasa)
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. Rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 chicken cooked and chopped (remove skin and bones)
1 pound cooked crabmeat
4 pounds boiled shrimp (get your shrimp stock)
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 pint oysters
Juice of one lemon
Directions: Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add flour slowly, constantly stirring with a whisk until the roux is dark brown. 30 - 45 minutes.
Add celery, onion, green pepper, garlic, and parsley, and cook on low for one hour stirring frequently (very important to cook this low).
Fry okra in 3 Tbs. shortening until brown. Add to gumbo and stir well over low heat for a few minutes.
In a large stock pot add chicken stock and shrimp stock, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, chopped tomato, salt, ham, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and cayenne. With a large spoon and roux mixture to stock. Simmer for three hours stirring occasionally.
About 30 minutes before serving time, add cooked chicken, crabmeat, and shrimp. Add oysters, lemon juice, and brown sugar the last 10 minutes of simmering time.
Serve over hot cooked rice in a soup bowl.