Gumbo

I’m back!  It’s a very unusually cool, cloudy August day.  It’s not really a soup day, or at least it won’t be any more by the time I’ve got leftovers.  I didn’t feel much like going to the store.  So, we’re looking for warm comfort food that I could make from the stuff I already had in the house.  Gumbo!  Two key things here:  make a good roux and make sure you have plenty of simmering time.  You need to start this a couple of hours before dinner or look for a slow cooker recipe.

There are tons of gumbo recipes out there.  You can make it with lots of different things:  chicken, sausage, shrimp, fish, crawfish, oysters.  Whatever you like.  I made mine tonight with chicken, smoked sausage and shrimp because that’s what I had in the freezer.  The basic idea here is that you start with a roux; add vegetables (the trinity – onions, peppers and celery); add liquid; add cooked meats; simmer for ages; add seafood.  A roux is a combination of fat, usually butter, and flour.  You melt the butter, stir in the flour and keep stirring until the roux reaches the color you want.  Some recipes call for caramel colored, others cocoa colored.  Just remember to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.  My friend Joe taught me about roux, though he probably doesn’t know that.  Recipes that are trying to save you from the fat teach you to brown the flour dry, but, as Joe taught me, browned flour without butter just tastes like burnt flour.

So, tonight I used a Paula Deen gumbo recipe, modified.  Here’s the thing – vegetable oil doesn’t make good roux and I can’t believe Paula Deen has used a butter substitute at all.  Instead of the 1/4 C oil use a stick of butter, because you’ll make the roux from that.  It makes a ton so there’s not so much butter in each serving.  Use a touch of oil to saute the trinity, but that’s all.  Brown the roux to a lovely chestnut color before you add the trinity.  I didn’t bother to cool the roux.   I didn’t add the bouillon at all because mostly i find that it adds salt, but not flavor. Instead of stewed tomatoes I used my regular home canned tomatoes. Finally, I used half chicken stock and half water. Because I could.

You’ll find that a lot of recipes use roux OR okra, but not both.  What you’re looking at here is the thickening agent.  Maybe using two thickening agents is overkill.  This recipe calls for both and I had some garden okra frozen so I used both.  Let’s pretend there’s an extra nutritional value in keeping the okra in addition to the roux.

This gumbo is dark and thick and yummy.  I used frozen shrimp because I wasn’t interested in the whole peeling and de-veining thing, and I had a bag in the freezer.  I used brown rice for a little extra texture and flavor.  I don’t know if this was so good because I’ve been eating birthday party bbq for 2 days or just because it’s really good, but I enjoyed it.  I hope you will too.

Remember that the recipe below reflects my changes. To see the original click on the recipe title.

Good? Yep.
Easy? Well, it takes a long time, but it’s not too hard.
Good for company? Easy to make for a crowd.
Special shopping? I made this out of various freezer bags plus a few pantry things, but you may need to pick up some shrimp or smoked sausage.

Gumbo

Ingredients

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1 stick butter, unsalted
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 T oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups hot water
1 pint or 14-ounce can tomatoes with juice
2 cups frozen sliced okra
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Melt the butterl in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, garlic,  pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add hot water and stock, whisking constantly to incorporate the roux.  Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the  shrimp and heat through.

Serve over rice.

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One Response to “Gumbo”

  1. Suwannee Refugee Says:

    I love okra fried but just can’t stomach it in a stew. Slimy!

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