Well, my train has left the Slow Soup track! I jumped ahead and made the split pea soup when it snowed, so now I'm back-tracking to last week's soup, this gumbo. Actually it all works out fine because I'm happy to have gumbo on Super Bowl weekend. This recipe came from Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe Cooking, and it is so delicious and really a lot of fun to make.
I'm a southerner through and through (and so is Sandi, who created this recipe) but the "south" is very big and has regions, kinda like Italy. I didn't grow up eating gumbo and while I've had it in restaurants and at parties, I'd never made it before. I'd also never made a roux.
I'm glad I had Sandi's "how to make a roux" visual aid. It took longer than I expected, and there was one point when it started smelling like burnt popcorn and I almost took it off the flame, but it wasn't that dark yet so I turned the heat down and let it keep going.
A list of the other Slow Soupers is here. The recipe, my modifications, and a couple more photos are below.
Here's Miss Nosy Kitten, stalking the gumbo! Trust me, I DO feed this kitten but you might think otherwise since she keeps jumping into my soup photos.
The secret to gumbo is fresh ingredients. I use chicken and andouille sausage (a cajun style sausage). The seafood we prefer is shrimp, bay scallops (the tiny ones), and oysters. But you can use what ever is available to you... grouper, clams, and crab claws are also good.
The question of okra and tomatoes always comes up. This is a Louisiana recipe that is just a roux base. If you like okra and tomatoes then it is more of a coastal recipe. You could do that instead.
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup all purpose flour
1# chicken pieces
1# large shrimp, bay scallops, oysters
1# Andouille sausage
32 oz chicken broth
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt & pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less)
bunch of green onions chopped
In a large pot, saute onions and peppers. Add sausage and brown. Add water, spices, and chicken; simmer until the chicken is cooked through (if you use chicken on the bone you can cool it and pull it now) Use this broth as a part of your chicken broth.
Start the gumbo by making your roux. Use a heavy skillet and stir together flour and oil until it is a cocoa brown and thick, smooth consistency. You will want to start adding some broth to the skillet to thin your roux, then pour the it into the big pot. Stir like hell. Add chicken broth, stir some more until there are no clumps.
Cover and simmer. This will help to thicken the gumbo. Add cleaned shrimp and scallops, cooking on medium heat till shrimp are pink (10 minutes) Add the delicate oysters last. Remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Serve in a large bowl on top of a scoop of rice, with a garnish of green onions.
Mine was streamlined with only two proteins...a package of turkey Andouille sausage from Whole Foods and a half-pound of NC coast shrimp.
Most versions of gumbo that I've had did have the okra and tomatoes in them. I love okra but only when it's fresh and since it's not in season now, I left them out and didn't miss them at all.
I added a couple of bay leaves, some thyme, and some red pepper flakes in addition to the half teaspoon of cayenne. My gumbo was spicy!
I omitted the teaspoon of salt because when I did a test taste, it just didn't need it (I used Pacific organic chicken broth and it's plenty salty).
Added a regular onion to the peppers at the beginning.
Nuked a bag of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice and served it over that. Yum!
Here's a photo of my roux. Not quite coffee/cocoa-colored but close enough.