This year is a leap year. That special year with an extra day in February, unless you are a century with an exception rule. Let me explain . . .
The whole idea of leap year goes all the way back to Julius Caesar, around 45 B.C.E. The earlier Roman calendar was 355 days. In order to keep festivals occurring around the same season each year, every other year had 22 or 23 days in a month, depending upon the adjustment. Talk about confusing! Along came Caesar, who came up with a 365-day, 12-month system, with an extra day added every four years. However; this created an average year of 365.25 days, when the earth circles the sun in 365.242216 days. That make the Roman calendar too long by .0078 days (11 minutes and 14 seconds).
By the 16th century, the equinox that should have occurred on March 21 was actually happening on March 10. To make the adjustment, Pope Gregory XIII simply changed the date on the calendar, moving the date ahead by 11 days. But that wasn’t enough. He came up with rules regarding leap years. Leap years are years that can be evenly divided by 4, while leap century years must be divided by 400. In other words, 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000 and 2400 are.
Yeah, that’s way too much math for me. So what does leap year and Cajun food have in common? For the rest of the world, probably nothing. But you know me, I’m thinking “theme”. What would you serve on Leap Day? I’m thinking Frog Legs. I know, twisted. My favorite Frog Legs are Cajun Style, so now I’m working on a Cajun Theme that goes with Frog Legs.
Any thoughts? While you’re thinking, let’s make some Gumbo.
Andouille Cajun Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo
1 small Yellow Onion
1 Green or Yellow Bell Pepper
2 Celery Ribs
2 Garlic Cloves
12 oz. Andouille Sausage
1 lb medium to large Shrimp
3 Green Onions, garnish
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Flour
1 tablespoons Cajun Seasoning
kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 Bay Leaf
15-oz can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
32 oz Chicken Stock
3 cups cooked White Rice, serving
Peel and dice the onion. Set aside. Core and dice the bell pepper. Set aside. Dice the celery, set aside. Peel and mince the garlic. Set aside.
Cut the sausage into 1/2-inch pieces on the bias. Set aside. Peel, devein and rinse the shrimp. Keep cold until ready to cook.
Trim the roots from the green onions. Slice remaining onion, reserving some for garnish, then set aside.
In a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat, melt butter, then add oil and flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until dark caramel colored, about 10 minutes.
Add onions, peppers, and celery, and stir until softened, about 5 minutes more. Stir in garlic and sausage, then season with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bay leaf, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
While the Gumbo cooks, make white rice for serving. Keep the rice warm until ready to serve.
During the 10 minutes of cooking the gumbo, add shrimp. Once shrimp is pink and cooked through, taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in green onions, reserving some for garnish.
Serve spooned on top of white rice.