'True Blood's' Gumbo Ya Ya


[Photograph: Alex Farnum]

Gumbo makes many appearances in True Blood, so it's no surprise that the recipe is featured in the True Blood cookbook. A rich and nourishing stew, this gumbo recipe makes a pot filled to the brim with chicken, sausage, peppers, and unctuous, meaty gravy.

Like many of the other recipes in this book, the Gumbo Ya Ya is fairly simple, but its well-developed flavors more than make up for its short ingredient list. But I have a feeling the big pot of stew Lafayette regularly stirs on the show is filled with much more than chicken, sausage, and roux.

Why I picked this recipe: I really couldn't cook from a True Blood book without making some of Lafayette's famous gumbo.

What worked: Gumbo is seriously comforting stuff--think chicken soup for the Louisianan's soul.

What didn't: This gumbo generated a ton of grease as it cooked (1 cup of oil in the roux and the skin of a whole chicken will do that to a stew); I skimmed off much of it as it cooked, but next time, I'd remove the chicken skin before adding it to the pot. Also, be sure to use the biggest pot you've got--10 cups of liquid plus a chicken and a pound of sausage makes a larger volume than you'd think.

Suggested tweaks: Okra and shrimp are classic gumbo additions, but this gumbo also takes well to a bit of kale or collards.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of True Blood to give away.