The Free Press WV

This classic New Orleans specialty is built on a roux_a cooked mixture of fat and flour that must be stirred constantly, sometimes for an hour or more, until it is deep brown.

To get the same depth of flavor with much less hands-on work, we turned to a dry roux: We toasted the flour alone in the oven until it was the color of cinnamon. Using our Dutch oven prevented hot spots and encouraged even toasting. Whisking half of the broth right into the toasted flour avoided clumps and made it easy to incorporate into the gumbo.

Rich and flavorful boneless, skinless chicken thighs and andouille sausage were the proteins favored by tasters. For the sake of efficiency, start toasting the flour in the oven before prepping the remaining ingredients.

We strongly recommend using andouille, but in a pinch you can substitute kielbasa, if desired. Be sure to whisk the broth into the toasted flour in small increments to prevent lumps from forming. Serve over white rice.


Servings: 6

Start to finish: 2 hours

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine

2 celery ribs, chopped fine

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

4 cups chicken broth, room temperature

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

8 ounces andouille sausage, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick

6 scallions, sliced thin

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Hot sauce

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 F. Place flour in Dutch oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until color of ground cinnamon, 40 to 55 minutes. (As flour approaches desired color, it will take on very nutty aroma that will smell faintly of burnt popcorn, and it will need to be stirred more frequently.) Remove pot from oven. Transfer flour to medium bowl and let cool. Wipe pot clean with paper towels.

Heat oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in thyme, garlic, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 2 cups broth. Nestle chicken into pot in single layer (chicken will not be completely submerged in liquid) and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until chicken is fork-tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks.

Meanwhile, slowly whisk remaining 2 cups broth in small increments into toasted flour until thick, smooth, batter-like paste forms. Increase heat to medium and slowly whisk paste into gumbo, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding next. Stir in andouille. Simmer, uncovered, until gumbo thickens slightly, 20 to 25 minutes.

Stir chicken and scallions into gumbo. Off heat, stir in vinegar and season with salt to taste. Discard bay leaves. Serve, passing hot sauce separately.


Nutrition information per serving: 384 calories; 121 calories from fat; 14 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 143 mg cholesterol; 471 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 42 g protein.


The Free Press WV

Low and slow is the way to go when it comes to making this yummy fish dish. A low-temperature oven (set to just 300 F) ensures that the fish cooks slowly, without drying out. Crispy, buttery, garlicky panko bread crumbs get a head start in a skillet so they’re golden brown when the fish comes out of the oven. Finally, a mayonnaise and egg yolk “glue” adds rich flavor and helps the crumb topping stay put. Even kids who don’t usually like fish will like this dish!


Servings: 4

Start to finish: 65 minutes (Active time: 15 minutes)

Prepare Ingredients:

Vegetable oil spray

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges

4 6-ounce skinless cod fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick

Gather Cooking Equipment:

Rimmed baking sheet

Aluminum foil

2 cooling racks

12-inch skillet

Rubber spatula

2 bowls (1 medium, 1 small)


Paper towels

Small spoon

Instant-read thermometer

Oven mitts

Start Cooking!

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 F. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set cooling rack inside baking sheet. Spray rack with vegetable oil spray.

In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add panko, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often with rubber spatula, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Turn off heat. Transfer panko mixture to medium bowl. Stir in parsley and let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, egg yolk, and lemon zest.

Use paper towels to pat fish dry. Use back of small spoon to spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over top of each fillet.

Working with one fillet at a time, coat top of each fillet with panko mixture. Place fillets, crumb side up, on greased rack in baking sheet. Wash your hands.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake until fish registers 145 F on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes.

Use oven mitts to remove baking sheet from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking sheet on second cooling rack. Serve fish with lemon wedges.


Nutrition information per serving: 312 calories; 123 calories from fat; 14 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 137 mg cholesterol; 164 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 33 g protein.


The Free Press WV

Tabbouleh is a signature Levantine salad made of bulgur, parsley, tomato, and onion steeped in a penetrating mint and lemon dressing.

We started by salting the tomatoes to rid them of excess moisture that otherwise made our salad soggy. Soaking the bulgur in lemon juice and some of the drained tomato liquid, rather than in water, allowed it to absorb lots of flavor as it softened.

Chopped onion overwhelmed the salad; two mild scallions added just the right amount of oniony flavor. Parsley, mint, and a bit of cayenne pepper rounded out the dish. Adding the herbs and vegetables while the bulgur was still soaking gave the components time to mingle, resulting in a cohesive dish.

Don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe.


Servings: 4-6

Start to finish: 2 hours, 30 minutes

3 tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup medium-grind bulgur, rinsed

1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups minced fresh parsley

1/2 cup minced fresh mint

2 scallions, sliced thin

Toss tomatoes with 1/4 teaspoon salt in fine-mesh strainer set over bowl and let drain, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes; reserve 2 tablespoons drained tomato juice. Toss bulgur with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and reserved tomato juice in bowl and let sit until grains begin to soften, 30 to 40 minutes.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, oil, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Add tomatoes, bulgur, parsley, mint, and scallions and toss gently to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature until flavors have blended and bulgur is tender, about 1 hour. Before serving, toss salad to recombine and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Nutrition information per serving: 194 calories; 131 calories from fat; 15 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 17 mg sodium; 15 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 3 g protein.


The Free Press WV

Delicately flavored spaghetti squash makes for a fun and interesting vegetarian main, but often the squash must be roasted in the oven while a separate sauce is made on the stove. In the multicooker, however, we could make a simple fresh tomato sauce and cook a large 4-pound spaghetti squash together in one pot.

First, we bloomed aromatic garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes with tomato paste to provide our sauce with a deeply flavored base. We opted for plum tomatoes for our sauce; because they contain less juice compared with larger tomatoes and less skin compared with an equal amount of small cherry tomatoes, we didn’t need to worry about seeding or peeling, saving time.

Finally, we added the squash, halved and seeded, to the pot, and cooked it until it was tender. We found that the liquid from the tomatoes was enough to steam our squash to perfection, but to rid the final dish of excess moisture, we drained the shredded squash in a strainer and further reduced and concentrated the sauce using the saute function. A sprinkling of fresh basil and shaved Parmesan cheese completed the plate.


Servings: 4

Pressure Cooker: 50 minutes

Slow Cooker: 5 hours, 30 minutes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Pinch red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 4-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Shaved Parmesan

Using highest saute or browning function, heat oil in multicooker until shimmering. Add garlic, tomato paste, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes. Season squash halves with salt and pepper and nestle cut side down into multicooker.

— To pressure cook: Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off multicooker and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.

— To slow cook: Lock lid in place and open pressure release valve. Select low slow cook function and cook until squash is tender, 4 to 5 hours. (If using Instant Pot, select high slow cook function and increase cooking range to 5 to 6 hours.) Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.

Transfer squash to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred flesh into strands using two forks; discard skins. Transfer squash to fine-mesh strainer and let drain while finishing sauce.

Cook sauce using highest saute or browning function until tomatoes are completely broken down and sauce is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer squash to serving dish, spoon sauce over top, and sprinkle with basil and Parmesan. Serve.


Nutrition information per serving: 289 calories; 125 calories from fat; 14 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 1 mg cholesterol; 125 mg sodium; 42 g carbohydrate; 10 g fiber; 19 g sugar; 6 g protein.

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