Biscuits 'n' Gumbo

Mandel's latest book is "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996)

Gumbo, a Creole specialty, is a thick, satisfying stew-like dish that always begins with a dark roux, a mixture of fat and flour that, after being slowly cooked, develops color and is used to thicken the gumbo.

The mustard seed biscuits bring out the Southern inspiration for the menu. A green salad or refreshing coleslaw made with a vinaigrette would be great complements to the gumbo if you want to serve a side dish. For dessert, a warm upside-down pineapple cake along with a bowl of oranges is a grand finale.

These recipes can be prepared in advance and reheated, although the biscuits are best right out of the oven.



2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing pan

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and mustard seeds in food processor or mixing bowl. Add butter and pulse in food processor or cut in with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and Creole mustard and mix just until ingredients clump together. Dough will be very moist.

Transfer dough to floured board and knead, folding and pressing it back on itself several times until it holds together and is smooth, about 30 seconds.

Pat or roll dough until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/4-inch rounds, reusing scraps as needed. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on greased baking sheet.

Mix egg and salt with fork until frothy and brush on biscuits.

Bake at 400 degrees until golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve warm. (Biscuits can be kept at room temperature for several hours. Gently reheat at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.)

14 biscuits. Each biscuit:

114 calories; 283 mg sodium; 27 mg cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.10 gram fiber.


Substitute leftover cooked chicken or buy already roasted chicken in the deli section of your supermarket to save time. A 1-pound bag of frozen cut okra can be substituted for fresh. The flavors of the gumbo improve if made a day or two in advance and refrigerated; add water if necessary when reheating.

1/2 cup oil

2 red onions, minced, about 3 cups

1 pound okra cut into 1/3-inch slices

1 cup flour

4 (13 3/4-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup finely diced celery

3/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper

3/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

2 (3-pound) roasted chickens, skin and bones removed, meat shredded

9 ounces andouille or andouille chicken sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices

Thinly sliced green onions, optional

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 1/2 cups onions and okra and cook, stirring often, until okra is lightly browned and okra slime has disappeared, about 30 minutes.

Heat remaining 5 tablespoons oil in 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat. When hot, slowly add flour, stirring constantly. Cook until medium brown, about color of pecan shells, 10 to 15 minutes. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups onions and cook, stirring often, 10 minutes.

Slowly add broth to roux, stirring briskly. Stir in okra, celery, green and red bell peppers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, 1 hour.

Add chicken and sausage and cook 15 minutes. If gumbo is too thick, add water until desired consistency; it should be thick. Add remaining hot pepper sauce to taste. Serve hot garnished with green onions.

8 servings. Each serving:

837 calories; 1,274 mg sodium; 220 mg cholesterol; 49 grams fat; 24 grams carbohydrates; 72 grams protein; 1.12 grams fiber.

* Rebecca Wood pottery plate from Zero Minus Plus, Santa Monica.

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