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Cajun Cooking in Chicago

Toss the chicken and 4 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a large (7- quart) heavy Dutch oven, preferably enameled cast iron, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the andouille and brown for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned chicken and cook for 4 minutes; add the onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mix in the bell peppers, celery, jalapeno, and garlic puree, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, ground black and white peppers, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning; cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in the roux a little at a time and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the file powder. (Do not let the mixture boil once you have added the file powders.) Remove the bay leaf. Serve with cooked white rice.

Note: Fill powder is the ground, dried leaves of the sassafras tree and imparts an unusual but pleasing flavor. It should be stirred into a dish at the end of cooling. Boiling the file makes it tough and stringy.  To reheat refrigerated gumbo, thin with stock or wafer and reheat gently.

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