“Gumbo is a veritable art form in Louisiana. There are as many gumbo recipes as there are cooks.” Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine, p. 135
Of all the dishes in the realm of Louisiana cooking, gumbo is the most famous and likely the most popular. Although ingredients vary from one cook to the next, and from one part of the state to another, a steaming, fragrant bowl of gumbo is one of life’s cherished pleasures – as emblematic of Louisiana as chili is of Texas (Adapted from A Short History of Gumbo by Stanley Dry).
There are many different recipes for gumbo, but it can essentially be described as a thick, well-seasoned stew with different combinations of meat or seafood. Roux (a thickening agent for soups and sauces) is a must, and most varieties of gumbo include onions, bell pepper, celery, and parsley.
This recipe is a classic Gumbo Ya Ya with chicken and sausage. And although it isn’t a traditional ingredient in Gumbo Ya Ya, I like to add crawfish (a.k.a. crawdads)for an extra flavor boost. What makes this recipe unique is that nearly every step is executed using CVap equipment.
First we knocked out the rice (3 pounds long grain par-boiled + 3 ¾ quarts of water) by cooking it in a CVap Thermalizer on channel 6 (200 + 150) for one hour. The cooked rice was then held in a CVap Cook & Hold Oven at 150 + 0 until we were ready to serve.
We cooked a dozen bone-in chicken thighs in a CVap Cook & Hold Oven at 170 + 0 for 45 minutes to an hour. The bones were removed for the overnight stock, then we shredded the chicken meat and set it aside.
For the overnight stock, we combined the chicken thigh bones, celery, carrots, onion, fresh thyme, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns in a stock pot and added water until everything was just covered. The stock was cooked overnight in a CVap Cook/Hold Oven at 180 + 0, strained in the morning, and then refrigerated. Then all we had to do was skim before adding it to the gumbo.
Recipe: Gumbo Ya Ya
- 4 onions, diced
- 4 green bell peppers, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, small dice
- 10 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 pounds andouille sausage, sliced
- 2 pounds chicken, shredded
- 2 pounds crawfish tails (optional)
- 5-10 bay leaves
- 4-5 thyme sprigs
- 1 gallon chicken stock
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- 5 cups flour
- ¾ cup green onion, chopped
- Sauté the onion, celery, and bell pepper, add garlic, and then remove from heat.
- Roux is one of the basic ingredients to a great soup or sauce. At the risk of boring the more seasoned cooks among you, I’ve included instructions for preparing a roux.
- Roux is made from equal parts fat and flour. In this case, vegetable oil and flour. Warm oil over medium-low heat, then add the flour.
- Stir constantly in a figure-eight pattern to evenly distribute. Watch the roux closely to prevent burning.
- Cook the roux over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes a dark caramel color (see picture). Remember that roux must be watched carefully – you don’t want to have to start over!
- Mix all ingredients together (using only half of the roux) and add 3 quarts of stock, sausage, crawfish (optional), and chicken. Stir and place in a CVap Cook & Hold oven at 200 + 3. Stir every 45 minutes or so. Check the thickness – if it needs to thicken more, add more roux. If it is too thick, add more chicken stock. After 2-3 hours, stir in the chopped green onion. Serve over hot rice.
Try this heartwarming dish for yourself and Laissez les bons temps rouler!
There are so many sensory delights to appreciate in a properly roasted turkey. The skin should have a consistent golden brown hue and a crisp texture that is audible when met with a knife (or a pair of fingers trying to filch a tidbit before it goes to the table). The breast meat should be tender and juicy while the dark meat should be succulent and toothsome. The aroma should be rich and intoxicating, filling the kitchen with a scent that is tangible and evokes memories of Thanksgiving or holiday feasts.
Brining is an option many cooks exercise though we don’t do it every time we roast a turkey. When we do, a couple of our favorite concoctions include salt + sugar + paprika + granulated garlic + granulated onion + peppercorns + water or salt + sugar + aromatics (onion, carrot, celery) + thyme + rosemary + Italian parsley + bay leaves + water. The benefit of brining a turkey is to impart additional flavor to the bird and to add moisture. Of course, if the turkey is cooked correctly, brining is unnecessary! In the tests we did for this post, the birds were not brined. Nor were they stuffed. While stuffing a turkey may be a tried and true part of cooking a Thanksgiving feast for many, we discourage the practice. In order to get the stuffing inside the bird to a safe endpoint temperature, you risk sacrificing the moistness of the white meat by overcooking it.
In one test, we roasted a 10 lb. turkey in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven (CAC) with the Food Temperature set at 190°F, Browning Level at 8, and we cooked it for three hours with Constant Cook ON.
In another test we cooked a bird in a CAC at 180°F with a Browning level of 6 for five hours with Constant Cook ON. As you can see, this test yielded skin that was not as brown or quite as crisp as the other test.
An alternative suggestion might be to cook a turkey at 175 + 0 to end point doneness and then either flash fry or flash roast it to brown and crisp up the skin. Using this method will yield extremely tender and juicy meat.
No matter which of these methods you use, the moral to this story is that a perfectly cooked turkey is something to be very thankful for!
Yum! Yum! Walking down the street and peering into the local cupcake shop, I often wonder, is that a sweet treat or a piece of edible art work? Mouthwatering cupcake shops have popped in every major city and in many small towns. If you want to use your CVap Cook/Hold or Thermalizer to rival the cupcake shops, we can show you how!
Just take your favorite cake recipe and set the Cook/Hold or Thermalizer to the below settings. CVap makes a moist and light cake that will be a hit for any occasion.
With endless variations and recipes for cake, use your favorite recipe. Or if you need a quick and easy cupcake, here is a modified box recipe that I personally love to use:
Take your favorite standard size box mix and use 4 eggs, ¾ cup oil, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup sour cream and ¾ cup sugar. Mix and bake.
Constant cook ON
Food Temperature 165
Bake at the recommended time listed for your specific cake recipe.
Cook for recommended time and check mid-way through cook cycle
As for icing, buttercream is my favorite. Italian buttercream is made by cooking sugar and only using real butter. Cooking the sugar gives it a smooth texture and the butter gives it a rich flavor. Below is my recipe 🙂
Buttercream Icing Ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 egg whites (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
- Pinch of salt, optional
*Makes buttercream for 12 cupcakes.
- Combine sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear. Increase heat to medium-high and allow syrup to come to a boil.
- Meanwhile, place egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or in a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer, and beat until whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
- Cook syrup until it reaches 235°F, then immediately remove from heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling: don’t pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl; instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
- Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
- Add butter one cube at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and salt. The mixture may start to look as if it’s separating, but don’t panic: just keep mixing and whipping until the buttercream comes together and becomes smooth and gorgeous.
- Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container or a zipper-lock bag in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to two months. To use buttercream that has either been refrigerated or frozen, first allow to come to room temperature then beat until smooth and spreadable again. Cakes or cupcakes decorated with buttercream generally keep up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve buttercream at room temperature.
Focaccia bread (Italian pronunciation: [foˈkattʃa]) is one of the most versatile breads baked today. Not only can the bread be baked either thick or thin, the endless array of toppings to choose from compounds flavors in a complex yet delightful way. Most people think of Focaccia as the free basket of bread provided before the meal at your local Italian eatery, but the bread can be used many different ways including as a pizza base, sandwich bread or even as a cake.
One of the more surprising things I encounter as I visit regions all over the world is how few people realize the CVap Cook and Hold and CVap Thermalizer ovens can be used to bake breads. CVap ovens are perfect for baking applications since users can customize the environment inside the oven to create the ideal conditions for proofing.
I had a great time with this project. It is getting the wheels turning for what other bread items we can cook in the CVap Cook and Hold or Thermalizer ovens.
Bread Flour – 1.82 Kilograms
Water – 845 Grams
Fresh Yeast – 60 Grams
Olive Oil – 140 Grams
Salt – 60 Grams
Sugar – 58 Grams
Method of Prep:
Preheat Cook and Hold to 90 Food Temperature + 1 Food Texture, Time 1:15.
Mix the water and flour. Autolyse for 20 minutes.
Add sugar, olive oil, and yeast. Mix for 5 minutes.
Add salt and mix for 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a half sheet pan greased with olive oil.
Place dough in center of pan and stretch the dough into a flat, oval. Make sure both sides are greased with Olive Oil
Place dough in Cook and Hold to proof.
When the timer goes off, pull dough out of Cook and Hold.
Punch and stretch the dough to the shape of the pan and make indentations in the dough with your fingertips.
Place the dough back in the Cook and Hold and set timer for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the Cook and Hold and heat to 200 Food Temperature + 10 Food Texture, time :45 minutes.
Top the dough with desired toppings and place back into the Cook and Hold.
One focaccia was topped with charred ramps, roasted garlic and rosemary. The other was topped with dried figs and fennel seeds. Both were seasoned with Maldon sea salt.
Consistent and efficient proofing is crucial when preparing leavened breads. The CVap promotes a consistent and great environment to proof! This is what generates the fermented smell and flavors of great breads. With CVap we can adjust the environment of the cabinet to tailor the proof. By doing so we can create compounding flavors while the bread is fermenting (or proofing).
The crumb on the finished product was excellent. It created a very light and soft finished product without making the exterior of the product too hard.
If you notice in the pictures, one of the pans of focaccia was too close to the elements (right). This is due to my portioning of the dough between the two pans. User error!
This project was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Please let me know what you think of the product once you have tried it. I look forward to hearing from you.
For more information about the complete line of CVap products, please visit our website at http://www.winstonindustries.com
The CVap Retherm Oven CAT522 is a high-production model, perfect for schools, cafeterias, or any other operation where speed and food quality are priorities. Its powerful heaters quickly retherm foods to serving temperature, while maintaining food quality. The CAT522 has an 8-channel electronic control with pre-programmed factory settings and options for custom programming to store your favorite recipes. Its 22 cu. ft. (.66 cu. M) capacity, with 14 adjustable rack supports, holds 14 sheet pans or 28 steam table pans. Auto water fill comes standard, eliminating the need for frequent water refills and keeping up with the demands of your high volume kitchen. A built-in fan circulates air to maintain consistent temperatures. Sits on rugged 5″ casters for ease of mobility.
The CVap Retherm Oven CAT509 is a workhorse in a smaller package. Its powerful heaters quickly retherm foods to serving temperature, while maintaining food quality. It is perfect for schools and cafeterias, where speed and food quality are priorities. A half-size cabinet, the CAT509 has 9 cu. ft. (.27 cu. M) of holding space and five adjustable rack supports which can accommodate five sheet pans or ten steam table pans. An 8-channel electronic pre-programmed and programmable control stores your favorite recipes. Built-in fan circulates air to maintain consistent temperatures. Auto water fill comes standard, eliminating the need for frequent water refills and keeping up with the demands of your fast paced kitchen. Sits on rugged casters for easy mobility. Also available in stacked pair combinations: CAT507/CAT509 or CAT509/HA4507.
The CVap Retherm Oven CAT507 features powerful heaters that quickly re-therm foods to serving temperature, while maintaining food quality. At 7 cu. ft. (.21 cu. M) of holding space, it is perfect for schools and cafeterias where speed and food quality are priorities, but space is limited. The CAT507 has an 8-channel electronic pre-programmed and programmable control to store your favorite recipes. The four adjustable rack supports accommodate four sheet pans or eight steam table pans. Built-in fan circulates air to maintain consistent temperatures. Auto water fill comes standard, eliminating the need for frequent water refills and keeping up with the demands of your fast paced kitchen. Sits on rugged casters for easy mobility. Also available in stacked pair combinations: CAT507/CAT507, CAT507/CAT509, or CAT507/HA4507.
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about what’s being served in school cafeterias around the country. Take it from me, the best way to find out what’s being plated in K-12 is to actually go to the schools and have lunch yourself. I work with schools around the U.S. and let me tell you there is some wonderful food around the country with creative ways of serving happening every day!
I suppose you could give an example based on new regulations that are taking place. But really those healthier options, even before the new regulations, have been putting school foodservice at the forefront of tasty recipes from one of the most demanding groups of customers there is – your kids.
The K-12 market segment food manufacturers have done a marvelous job with reformulating and reinventing a lot of the tasty treats your kid’s love to eat. Add in scratch cooking that’s being done in many of the nation’s schools and well, you’ve got some great recipes for healthy well fed students that get kids ready to learn.
So here’s my challenge to you. Would you try a dynamic and delicious made from scratch school food recipe at your next outdoor cookout?
Believe me when the side dish is Tantalizing and Tasty Ranchero Beans from a district like Brantley County Schools in Georgia, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s what I did and I’ll show you how. I took the original bulk recipe from School Nutrition Director Laura Lynn’s Brantley County School District and honed it down for an at home gathering with family. I’m sharing the original with you along with my version.
Number of Portions: 43
Size of Portions: ½ cup
CAT509 – CVap Thermalizer
HA4522 – CVap Holding Cabinet
1 cup, 8 fl oz water
2 tsp low sodium ham base
1 #10 can/18.5 ct/.5 cup beans, canned, drained, rinsed
1 can #10 tomatoes, diced, canned
1 cup frozen diced onions
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp salt, table
1 tsp pepper, black
¼ cup mild banana pepper rings
Pre-heat your CVap Thermalizer by pressing Channel 6.
Place can of tomatoes, drained beans and onions in a 2” deep hotel pan. Add 1 cup of warm water mixed with the ham base. Add Italian seasoning, cumin, salt and black pepper. Mix well and place pepper rings on top. Once it’s pre-heated, place in the CAT509 and cook for 30 minutes. Then place in HA4522 Holding Cabinet with a food temperature of 155 degrees and a food texture of +10 degrees until ready to serve. Serve students with #8 scoop or ½ spoodle.
Home Style Version
½ cup of water
¼ tsp of low sodium ham base (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
2 cans 15.5 oz unseasoned pinto beans drained, rinsed
2 cans 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
¼ cup frozen diced onions (I used Kroger brand)
¼ tsp Italian seasoning (I used McCormick brand)
¼ tsp of cumin
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 or 8 mild banana pepper rings
Mix all of the ingredients together in a half size aluminum hotel pan and then use a CVap CAC503 Cook and Hold set to 90+9 for 30 minutes on high yield so it will drop into an automatic hold of 150 following the heat cycle to warm.
If you don’t have one at home…
I then served this to friends and family, including my two year old granddaughter Penelope (minus the mild banana pepper rings) and asked them all what they thought.
The adults loved it and Penelope asked for more. Then the big reveal… I told them it was school food!
This made Penelope ready for kindergarten immediately!
Check out this wonderful dish and try it at home. Take heart in knowing that schools all over America are serving great dishes like this to your children which have been cooked fresh in Winston Thermalizers and held at just cooked quality in Winston Holding Cabinets with the one and only CVap technology.