Gumbo

For my Gumbo, I decided on a variety of meats so that there would be a good depth of flavor.  I might try browning the sausages next time, just to add another layer of flavor, but the texture of them in this version was spot-on.

In a Dutch oven with a heavy bottom, heat:
Olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer)
Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add:
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, and seasoned with salt and pepper
Brown the chicken on both sides over medium-high heat, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Make sure there are still a few tablespoons of oil left in the pan and add:
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped

Season with:
Salt and pepper
Saute the vegetables until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes, then remove to a bowl and set aside.  Make sure you get all of the vegetable pieces out before returning the pan to the heat.  Add:
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
Heat the oil until it is hot-hot and almost smoking.  At this point, you are making the base to the soup, which is called a roux, and is a staple of Cajun/Creole cookery.  Once the oil is hot, add:
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
Use a whisk to stir the roux, which will immediately become a sort of thin paste.  The goal here is to cook the flour until it turns a reddish-brown color, without burning it.  Most recipes suggest that, if the roux begins to burn, it is ruined and you have to start over.  Work quickly and carefully – the mixture is very hot and any splashes really hurt your skin.  Like many things, I think this takes some practice to perfect; for my run, I may have prematurely moved onto the next step, but I was also very hungry.  =) Once your roux is browned, return the vegetables to pan and add:
6-8 cups of chicken stock
Now your base is ready to rock, basically.
Once you get the mix up to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and add:
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

As in anything with lots of complex flavors, it is a good idea to taste it often for seasoning, so I encourage you to do that here.  From here, you just get your proteins in order and let the flavors marry.  Chop the reserved chicken into a 1/2-inch dice and add to the simmering liquid.  Then add:
4 small smoked sausage links, or 1 large sausage (like a kielbasa or Andouille)
At this point, you can let the soup simmer as long as you like – the flavors will just get better and better.  When you have about 15 minutes to serving time, add:
3-4 handfuls of fresh or frozen okra, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
If you decide to add shrimp, too, do it just at the end and heat only until they are cooked through – mushy shrimp in a soup sounds terrible to me!  I added:
2 handfuls of cleaned, thawed shrimp (previously cooked)
If you add raw shrimp, the flavor is likely to be better, but these worked well in this application.  Once the shrimp are hot, serve in big bowls in which you’ve added:
1/2 cup of cooked rice
Against convention, I keep the rice separate from the rest of the soup until serving, just because I find that it stays a little more toothsome and doesn’t fall apart.  Hope you enjoy.  We sure did.

2 thoughts on “Gumbo

  1. […] Gumbo Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A Cajun Christmas: Shrimp, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo’New Orleans Classic Gumbos & Soups’ – Cookbook Spotlight   […]

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