Chicken Andouille Gumbo

Chicken and Andouille GumboBuy 449

Here is a recipe for a great gumbo with a roux that practically makes itself. Seriously! You may remember my shrimp gumbo that – while delicious – required a one-hour stirring period for the roux. At the time I thought there was no way around that but it turns out I was dead wrong. Alton Brown has a genius method of making a roux in the oven! You whisk oil and flour together, then place the mix in a 350-degree oven for 1.5 to 2 hours and you get the same result as you do when sitting at the stovetop stirring, yawning and probably also burning yourself. Overall the recipe takes longer but it is much, much less work. Try it out, I bet you’ll love it! :)

Chicken Andouille Gumbo
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 6
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 Andouille sausages, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika*
  • 3 green onions, sliced
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven until smooth.
  3. Put the Dutch oven in the, well, oven and let the roux bake in the uncovered pot until it has a chocolate color (1½ – 2 hours). Whisk the roux every 40 minutes.
  4. Let the roux cool down to almost room temperature.
  5. Transfer the roux into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Heat the canola oil in the Dutch oven until shimmering.
  7. Add sausage and chicken and brown on all sides. Transfer into a bowl and set aside.
  8. Add onion, bell pepper and celery to the oil you browned the meat in and saute on medium heat until they start to soften (about 8 minutes.)
  9. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  10. Add the chicken broth, then stir in the roux and let the mix come to a boil, stirring continuously.
  11. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano and Hungarian paprika, put on the lid and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  12. Add the chicken and the sausage and cook for another 10 minutes.
  13. Serve with rice and sprinkle on some green onions.

Food Photography and Styling: Because of the sausage this gumbo is a bit fatty and I wanted to be sure to bring that across by showing its shiny surface. To create some nice highlights on the surface I lit the set slightly from the back (with my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe and my Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm)). I used my Heath ceramics bowl because its blue color worked best with the brown food. I kept the white balance very cold simply because I liked it best that way. To finish the photo off I produced just a tiny hint of steam.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Prop Talk – Steam

Hello hello and welcome to another prop talk! (Quick explanation for my new readers: once a month I write a post about some of my favorite food photography props. You can see all previous prop talk installments by clicking the Prop Talk! tab in the menu at the top).

Today I’ll tell you how I produce steam in food photos. Steam is a great prop that makes the food look hot and appetizing and suggests that someone must have just served it and is probably about to eat it. There are many different ways to get steam into a photo and I’m going to show you how I do it but that certainly doesn’t mean that you have to do it this way.

So, from my experience it is difficult to get food hot enough to produce enough steam on its own to be seen by a camera and that’s why I use an espresso machine instead. This is the one:

Food-Photography Props Espresso Machine

Note that this machine lets me gradually adjust the steam output; you can see that the knob goes continuously from “off” to “steam” and I can stop it anywhere in between. That’s absolutely essential, you can’t use a machine that just has a “steam on” or “steam off” setting, that will never work because the steam flow will be much too strong.

All right, so I fill my machine with distilled water and then attach tubing to the steam wand like this:

Food Photography Props Espresso Machine Tubing

I got the tubing from a hardware store years ago and I just asked for the most heat-resistant kind they had. It works well but still degrades a bit over time at the point where it is touching the metal of the steam wand so every now and then I cut a bit of the end piece off.

Next, I put on a glove so that I’m able to hold the (very hot) tubing in my hand (I actually use Microplane’s cut-resistant glove, which turns out to be nicely heat-resistant too). Then it’s time for steam! The camera has to be on a tripod, of course, and I also like to attach a remote shutter release. I make sure to have everything – absolutely everything – in the photo perfectly ready and the way I want it before I start. Then I turn on the steam, wait until the water is heated up and make sure that I shake out any water drops that may be in the tube. (That’s important, it’s very annoying to have water droplets spill all over the set). I adjust the steam to a medium level, not too strong and not too faint, lock the focus with my remote, then let a bit of steam blow around the food, quickly move the tubing out of the frame and immediately take a shot. I usually have to adjust the steam output a few times until it’s just right and it definitely takes some time to get the right shot but I find it to be a lot of fun.

I used to put tons of steam in my photos (as in the beef stew shot below) but I have lately started to take a more measured approach because I think just a hint of steam looks more natural but, of course, it’s all personal preference, so do what you like!

Below are a few examples of how I’ve used steam in food photos. Do you add steam to your food photos? If so, how do you like to do it?

Beef Stew
Buy 453
 
Chicken Noodle Soup
Buy 51
 
Chunky Chili
Buy 407

 
 

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Maple Orange Chicken Wings

Maple Orange Chicken WingsBuy 448

I usually tend to avoid chicken wings because they are so incredibly messy to eat but I’ll tell you these guys here are worth the cleanup. I glazed them with a sticky sauce made from maple syrup, orange juice, salt, butter, cloves and some crushed red pepper flakes. Sweet, sour, salty and spicy – absolutely delicious!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Maple Orange Chicken Wings
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 12 chicken wings
  • vegetable oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup freshly pressed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 green onion, sliced
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Brush the wings with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on it. Put the wings on the rack in a single layer.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile combine maple syrup, juice, butter, salt, red pepper flakes and cloves in a saucepan and simmer until thick and reduced to about ½ cup (15-20 minutes).
  6. Take the wings out, brush with the glaze, return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Spoon more glaze on, then sprinkle with green onion and serve.

Food Photography and Styling: I used my blue/gray metal surface to contrast the brown wings and went for a casual look with beer and greasy paper underneath the wings. The most crucial part of this photo turned out to be the napkin; it tied the plate to the surface, kept it from looking isolated and partially broke up its oval shape. Before I added the napkin the set looked terrible. (Plus, napkins are badly needed for this food so it fit the story). I played around with the arrangement of the z-shaped wings for quite a while, I didn’t want the tips poking out- or inward into random directions but at the same I didn’t want the pile to look too uniform. I used one of my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobes with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm) to the back of the set and a large white foam board as a reflector.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Irish Hazelnut Cream

Irish Hazelnut CreamBuy 447

If at any point during the Christmas season you feel the need to get hammered I suggest this Irish hazelnut cream drink that I found on Food & Wine’s website. It consists of Frangelico (which is a hazelnut liqueur), Irish whiskey, whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. I changed the proportions a bit to make it more hazelnutty and left out the ice (because I don’t like cream and ice together). Be sure to put a good amount of nutmeg on top, in my opinion it’s the nutmeg that makes this drink. Also, be sure to appoint a designated driver before going to town with this stuff.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Irish Hazelnut Cream
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 2 ounces Frangelico
  • whipped cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg
Instructions:
  1. Combine whiskey and Frangelico, mix, then divide between two glasses.
  2. Pipe whipped cream on top and finish with nutmeg.

Food Photography and Styling:  Well, this drink should be consumed in small quantities so I chose these tiny glasses that I recently found in an antique store. I went for a more elegant rather than rustic feeling this time and used my silver tray and some ironed fabric rather than distressed wood and rusty metal. I piped the cream with my big 9P tip until I got some nice moguls that looked like snow (after all this is a winter drink). I found it impossible to get the whipped cream onto the liquid in a straight layer but I thought its lopsidedness actually looked inviting and natural. As usual, I used my Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 strobe with a Hensel Ultra IV Softbox – 35×58″ (90x150cm) to sidelight the set.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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