(click on pics to enlarge)
Gumbo is a perfect meal for a winterish day. It is very easy to make. For me, it is a labor of love and heritage. There are a lot of choices.
My Godmother makes the best seafood Gumbo I ever ate. She packs a lot of flavors in her Gumbo. Down here in the South I consider her Gumbo the “real deal”. Hers leans more toward the Creole side. My mother made a Filé Gumbo using filé powder, which is ground sassafras leaves. I’m not a real fan of filé. But, I think the finishing herb drives the final touch. Some people use bay leaf, some use filé, some use both. I use bay leaf and fresh oregano from my garden.
There are other choices to consider – the oil and the peppers (heat).
Most people use vegetable oil or canola oil and some use olive oil. I use olive oil for several reasons. Mostly, I think the flavor suits the vegetable profile better but more importantly, it handles the heat better when making a dark roux.
With respect to peppers, I know people who add jalapeño peppers and others add lots of Tabasco pepper sauce and others add a Creole Seasoning containing cayenne pepper. I de-seed a jalapeño (limit the heat) and add it to the vegetables and then add a little Tabasco sauce when serving. This allows the person to control their own destiny with the pepper heat when serving. The other thing to calculate is the Andouille sausage has ground pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and chili powder in it. If you live in a place where you cannot get Andouille sausage, use your favorite smoked pork sausage and toss in a small dash of red pepper flakes. The base of this Gumbo depends on a mild pepper back flavor, but not an over-powering pepper flavor.
The roux (oil and flour) is not only the thickening agent for the stock; it is the main flavor for the entire dish. The key to a roux is patiently cook by whisking the equal parts flour and oil until it becomes dark brown on a steady medium heat; add chopped onions and sauté. After 5 minutes, then add the celery and bell pepper. The aroma that occurs between the roux and the onions is incredible and can’t be missed in the flavor from that point forward.
Ingredients (shown in the picture above, click on the pic to enlarge):
1 small onion – chopped
1 bell pepper – seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk – peeled and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper – seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves – cut into small coins
4 scallions (green onion) – chopped
1 chicken thigh – with skin and bone
1 chicken breast – skinned and deboned
1 Lb. of shrimp – shelled and cleaned
1 stick of Andouille pork sausage – sliced
Seasoning, Herbs and Stock
Salt and pepper
Fresh oregano (or a dash of dried)
1 small bay leaf
1 TBSP Worcestershire
2 cups chicken stock
4 TBSP all purpose flour
4 TBSP olive oil
In a Dutch Oven, add the flour then the oil and whisk into a paste.
Turn heat to medium and as the flour begins to cook whisk every few minutes or so as not to let the roux burn. You will see the flour begin to bubble.
In a little while you will see the flour begin to turn brown. A baked bread smell will begin to emerge.
Whisk more until the roux turns a dark oak color. Whisk every two or three minutes.
While the roux is hot add the onions and sauté five minutes. You will see the roux begin to brown even more.
Then add the celery, bell pepper and jalapeño pepper.
Mix and let that cook a minute or so more then add the stock a half-cup at a time. Stir and watch the roux begin to foam.
Then add the chicken and the Andouille sausage.
Add the rest of the stock, bring to a boil and then cover, turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook 30 minutes.
At 30 minutes remove the chicken and remove the bone and skin, cut into pieces and return to the pot, add the garlic and scallions, add the shrimp, herbs, Worcestershire and salt and pepper. Cover and cook another 30 minutes on low.
Serve over a bed of rice and sprinkle Tabasco sauce.
I also made a bread for dipping in the stock.
This was so good. The meat was tender and flavor was wonderful.