By Bakersfield Life Magazine
Troy Weatherford is crazy about Cajun and Creole cuisine. After all, he is originally from Louisiana. The 44-year-old now lives in Bakersfield and works as an electrical construction consultant for a local oil company. When he's not working, he's cooking up some gumbo, jambalaya, and other Cajun and Creole specialities.
"I grew up in Louisiana where we love to cook and have really large outdoor cooking gatherings," he said about the famous crawfish, crab and shrimp boils. "It bonds family and friends."
Chicken and sausage gumbo
1 to 3 pounds of skinless chicken thighs. They have the most flavor.
1 pound smoked sausage
1 cup oil and 1-1/2 cups of flour if you know how to make a roux from scratch. If not, skip the oil and flour and use dry instant roux mix available at grocery stores.
2 cups diced onions.
2 cups diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
You can also use blends from the frozen section for the diced veggies, onions, celery and bell peppers. It cuts off some of the prep time.
1/4-cup minced garlic. You can substitute garlic powder, and only season to taste.
3 quarts chicken stock, or three 32-ounce boxes or cans.
2 cups sliced green onions
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Louisiana Hot Sauce or Crystal Hot Sauce (not Tabasco) to taste
1/2-cup chopped parsley
Steamed white rice
Directions: Cut chicken thighs into quarters and leave a few in halves. Cut smoked sausage into 1/2-inch slices and set aside. In a 2-gallon or that black iron pot you have, heat a small amount of oil over medium-high heat. Brown your chicken and sausage. You want the chicken and sausage to stick to the pot some. Once it is brown, add in your seasonings blend and begin to saute your veggies. Saute for 5 to 15 minutes, or until vegetables are wilted. You may need to adjust heat to medium to not burn the veggies. Once they are nice and clear, and very soft, add chicken stock one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Add the instant roux to thicken as you desire. I like my gumbo more watery than thick. I only use roux to color up the sauce, and it has some seasoning to it.
Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to simmer and cook approximately one hour. Skim any fat or oil that rises to surface. Stir in mushrooms, green onions, bay leaf and basil. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook an additional one to two hours if necessary, until chicken is tender and falling apart. Stir in parsley and adjust seasonings. Serve over steamed white rice.
He shared with Bakersfield Life a little more about his passion for food.
When I developed an interest in cooking: At a young age, but really in my late teens when you begin to understand the ingredients in those wonderful Cajun dishes.
My first experience in the kitchen: My dad teaching me how to make a roux at age 12. He was cooking for some rig workers, and I wanted to know why he was stirring the pot so long.
My disastrous kitchen story: When I was 20 years old, I learned about glassware. I cooked a pot roast -- it was so tender, and the roux was perfect. I decided to heat it up, so I placed it in a glass-serving dish and placed that on the electric stove. After a few minutes, it exploded and glass went everywhere. We had to order pizza that night.
Everything goes better with: Wine.
I always mess up: Deep-fried chicken. I have to pan fry it.
I rock at making: Pork, chicken and sausage jambalaya, shrimp Creole and seafood gumbo.
One of my cooking secrets: When you cook in a black iron pot or skillet, it's OK to fry the meat until it sticks to the bottom. When you add the onions and let them saute for a few minutes, turn the fire off and put the lid on it for 15 minutes. After that, start the fire and stir the onions. They will wipe the bottom clean and also give you that nice dark brown color for your jambalaya and gumbos you need to have.
How I find inspiration to create a new dish: Trying different things from other cities but adding the Cajun flare to it.
If I could spend a day with a famous chef or fellow foodie, it would be: Chef John Folse, Emeril Lagasse or Paul Prudhomme. They all have different cooking styles that I like.
Advice I would ask them: I want to start my own cooking show. I would like pointers on what not to cook live. Some things just don't look good,but taste fantastic, like turtle soup.
Tools of the trade
My favorite piece of cooking equipment: Black iron skillets and pots.
Must-have kitchen tools: Sharp knives -- very sharp knives.
Go-to cookbook: "The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine" by John D. Folse.
Ingredients that I avoid: Sassafras (also known as "file gumbo") and cumin.
I buy this in bulk: Nothing in bulk, unless it's for crawfish boils. Then it's 100 to 200 pounds.
Dream kitchen appliance: Viking gas stove with an indoor charbroiler.
Cooking show I watch: Justin Wilson from a long time ago.
Favorite neighborhood restaurant and my order: Ralph and Kacoo's in New Orleans. I get the shrimp platter with lump crab meat salad.
Favorite specialty food shop: Best Stop Supermarket cajun meat butcher in Scott, La.
Favorite bakery: Gambino's Bakery is famous for their king cakes and also Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter for their beignets.
A few of my favorite things:
Favorite meal to make: Chicken and sausage jambalaya.
Favorite cuisine: Boiled crawfish.
Best food memory: When I learned how to not burn the roux.
Best culinary destination: New Orleans or Maryland for blue crabs and crab cakes.
Always in the fridge: Crystal Hot Sauce.
Weirdest food I like: Sucking the crawfish heads.
I'm addicted to: Fried catfish.
Comfort food: Hamburger.
Dessert: Banana pudding.
My splurge at the grocery store: Popcorn.
New Years food-related resolution: No more beignets.
Favorite Valentine's dinner: Filet mignon and red wine.