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Sunday, March 30, 2014

My First Gumbo

This was my first time making gumbo, last September. I was really excited to try it - I am not sure if I've had it before so I'm obviously not a gumbo expert, BUT, I kept getting okra from my CSA and I wanted to put the fresh farm okra to good use. This is a great recipe to do that!

I found out that there is pretty much one recipe for gumbo for every family from Louisiana, so I sifted through tons of recipes online. The gumbo purists seem to agree that there are no tomatoes in gumbo and that you must use file powder (ground sassafras leaves), so I decided to give both of those a "go." I used tidbits from recipes here and there and was really happy with the results overall. I might try it with tomatoes sometime, and definitely will use more creole seasoning to kick it up! I used more oil vs flour than listed below, but it was too oily - I ended up spooning some extra oil (also probably from the sausages) off the top of the soup towards the end of cooking. I adjusted the amount of flour to 1 cup below, which should help, I think.

Kitchen Bliss Gumbo
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 large onion
4 stalks celery
1 large or 2 small green bell peppers
5 cloves garlic
1.5 large cartons of chicken stock (2 full cartons is probably fine)
4 bay leaves
1 lb andouille style sausage, such as Dearborn brand, cut lengthways and then sliced
2 - 3 Tablespoons creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's
1 Tablespoon cajun seasoning (I found one without salt, just spices - McCormick brand)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
3-4 teaspoons file powder
2 cups sliced okra
1 rotisserie or whole cooked chicken, shredded
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails cut off
1/2 bunch green onions

rice, for serving

Cook the vegetable oil and flour in the bottom of a heavy sauce pot to make a roux:  slowly whisking pretty much constantly (every time I left it, I rushed back to find little bits but the little bits kind of blended in later so it was OK), over medium low heat until mahogany in color. This takes 20 min or so. Meanwhile, in a food processor, coarsely chop onions, celery, garlic, green bell peppers. Scrape into roux and start adding other ingredients: chicken stock, sausage, bay leaves, creole and cajun seasoning, thyme.

Bring to a boil and then turn down and simmer for 30 or 40 minutes. Add shredded chicken, file powder, and sliced okra. Simmer for 20-30 minutes more, adjust for seasonings - add more creole, cajun, file, or salt and pepper to taste. I noticed some extra oil on top at this point, perhaps from my sausages, so I skimmed it off the top and it was fine.

When ready to serve, put shrimp into simmering gumbo and then turn it off and the residual heat will cook the shrimp within a few minutes. Serve in a large pot and ladle over rice and top with chopped green onions, more file powder or creole/cajun seasoning to taste.

I really enjoyed this and we all had seconds. I liked mine with a little more cajun/hot seasonings. We had a bunch of leftovers and I scraped the leftover rice into the gumbo and it really thickened up nicely and made great leftovers. I think this is one of those recipes that you can adjust and make it to your family's liking, I hope you try gumbo soon and enjoy!

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