Gumbo is one of those dishes that I can eat anytime of the year – but, usually I stick to preparing it during the chilly months. I have a great secret to making great gumbo every time. Ultimately, keep it simple and be patient.
Gumbo, one of the most popular and well-known dishes of New Orleans, is a vibrant soup/stew dish often cooked in many Southern kitchens and restaurants across the globe.
The spirit and passion of Louisiana are reflected in its food; Gumbo’s origin – for the most part – remains a myth. Some believe it was created by the French or perhaps the Spanish in the early 1800s. However, others accredit the creation to the African/American community around the same time frame. Ultimately, what is clear is that many cultural influences have always occupied Louisiana.
There are multiple ways to prepare gumbo; primary ingredients typically include a variety of various types of meats, seafood, and vegetables. Chicken, sausage, ham, oysters, turkey, wild turkey, squirrel, rabbit, beef, veal, crabs, soft-shell crabs, shrimp, greens, and cabbage, okra are some of the standard staples of the dish.
Making gumbo can be a difficult task. However, I am a real fan of keeping recipes simple. Subsequently, my gumbo recipe generally always includes spicy sausage, chicken thighs, and a variety of seafood. Firstly, I need to admit; I am not a big fan of the sweet green peppers. Moreover, I dislike okra immensely – put simply, I can’t get past the texture. Therefore, I discovered a tasty substitution that works perfectly; poblano peppers. Although, I haven’t been as lucky for the okra. I enjoy the edgy flavor the pepper adds to the dish. However, if you are not a fan of spicy, just remove the spine and seeds during preparation.
5 Cups of chicken or seafood stock (see recipe)
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp of All Purpose Flour
1 C Canned Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Tomato Past
2 Bay Leaves
3 Tsp Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp Ground Sage
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Andouille Sausage Links
4 Boiled Chicken Thighs (skin and bone removed, chopped into 1 inch cubes)
10 Cups of Long-Grain White Rice
1/2 C Bacon Fat
1 Lg Diced White Onion
2 Celery Stocks
1 Lg Jalapeno
1 Lg Poblano Pepper
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Lg Garlic Clove
1 Lb Large Shrimp
1.5 Lbs of King Crab Legs (cooked, meat removed, and cut into 1 inch pieces)
3 Scallions chopped
Filé Powder and Hot Pepper Sauce for serving.
Preparation for a Great Gumbo Every Time
- Prepare the roux in a large heavy pot over medium heat, add the bacon fat. Add the flour to the pan and continuously stir until the roux is a rich dark brown color. Tip: Do not step away, it will burn.
- Once the roux is done, quickly add the onion, poblano, jalapeño, and celery, stirring frequently until the vegetables are just tender.
- Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, spices and tomato paste to the pot and mix throughly.
- Add the stock, salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 1 hour.
- Add the meat and seafood to the pot and continue cooking until shrimp is cooked through.
- Remove and discard bay leaves prior to serving.
- Serve topped with chopped scallions atop of rice or with rice on the side.
Personally, I enjoy my gumbo with rice and cornbread served alongside. Indeed, there are multiple ways to enjoy a steaming bowl of this impressive culmination of vibrant flavors. Ultimately, the secret to making a great gumbo every time is most certainly time.
Lastly, gumbo is a fantastic excuse to plan a trip to visit New Orleans, and experience the birthplace of the dish – because, why not?