Gumbo is probably my all-time favorite recipe. I have had the good fortune of being in the company of some great Louisiana cooks and a chef or two that have helped develop my gumbo over the years. The recipes below detail a seafood gumbo and a chicken and sausage gumbo, and I have poured all of my love into them both.
Gumbo can be made with a variety of meats and vegetables. My two favorites are Seafood Gumbo and Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. The seafood variety is delicious, but can be expensive depending on your choice of ingredients.
For those who don’t care for seafood, or want something less expensive and just as delicious, the chicken and sausage gumbo is a hit.
Making gumbo is not for the fast food cook, as it takes time to prepare the vegetables, stock, and roux. If you can prepare them ahead of time, the process will be cut down to about one hour.
The base for the rich and wholesome flavor of gumbo begins with a good stock. Shortcuts can be taken with canned broth or bullion, but I allow at least two to three hours.
When making a large batch of stock, I strain the liquid, cool it down, then freeze it in containers large enough for a soup for later.
The roux is the base for the texture and flavor of the gumbo. It will require your undivided attention, so clear the kitchen. Get a good large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, a long spatula that can get into the corners of the skillet or pan, and all of your patience.
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup light olive oil
1 stick salted butter
2 large onions, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2-3 green onions, chopped
3 cups okra, cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 cubes chicken bullion
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. white pepper
2 Tbs. Texas Gourmet Sidewinder Searing Spice
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. thyme leaves
2 16-oz. cans stewed tomatoes, chopped
filé gumbo powder
2 chickens (whole) with giblets
2 lbs. raw link sausage (if using smoked sausage, boil for 20 minutes before adding)
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots cut in big chunks
3 stalks celery, chopped coarse with leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
pinch of salt
5 bay leaves
In a stockpot, add enough water to cover the chicken by about two to three inches, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Boil for 30 minutes, then cover and cook at medium heat until the meat falls off of the bone. Remove the chicken and continue cooking the remaining liquid for two more hours to reduce it by about 1/3. Strain through a fine colander.
This stock can be made using shrimp shells and/or fish bones and head, using the same method and base ingredients as the chicken stock (minus the chicken).
Start with equal parts oil and flour. Use light olive oil because of its high flash point, about 3/4 cup of each over a medium fire, and stir with your spatula or roux spoon every 10 to 15 seconds.
With each stirring (careful–it’s very hot) you will start to notice the mixture browning as you stir. It should brown very slowly; if it browns too quickly, it will burn, and you will notice black chunks. If this happens, you have to start over.
When the roux is about the color of caramel, I like to add a stick of butter. As the roux darkens, you need to gradually lower your fire.
You can store the roux in the refrigerator for two weeks or longer to use later in stocks, sauces, or gumbo. I like to have a pot of stock waiting right by the roux because when the color is right, I add a couple ladles of stock to slightly cool the roux, then add the chopped vegetables (except the okra).
Increase the fire slightly, adding more stock as needed to be able to stir the mixture, and cook this for 45 minutes to an hour to caramelize the vegetables. This mixture will have a beautiful chocolate brown color and a nutty smell to it.
Now add the roux and vegetable mixture to the pot of reserved stock over medium heat, stirring well to combine. Then add your chicken or seafood and other favorite gumbo ingredients.
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
2 chickens, whole (cooked down in the stock, cooled, and the meat picked carefully from the bone and hand shredded; you can substitute 6 bone-in breasts if you like only white meat).
2-3 lbs. Andouille (Cajun) sausage; boiled 20 minutes then sliced in 1/4-inch slices; add to gumbo. You can substitute venison (if using smoked sausage, boil for 20 minutes to remove heavy smoke taste; too much smoke flavor adversely affects flavor); add remaining ingredients for the gumbo.
5 lbs. shrimp
2 lbs. crabmeat
1 lb. bay scallops
1-quart oysters with juice
I always add my seafood last after all the vegetables, roux, and stock have cooked together for about an hour or two. After adding the seafood, boil the gumbo for about 15-20 minutes, then reduce to a low simmer until ready to serve. Serve over rice and sprinkle on a little bit of green onion and filé gumbo powder.
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Email Bryan Slaven at firstname.lastname@example.org