Time for Gumbo

Gumbo is the most recognized and most famous food of Louisiana.  Gumbo is to Louisiana like chili is to Texas.  Everyone eats it, whether they be rich or poor, and there are endless variations of how to make it. The art of making gumbo is serious business in Louisiana.  It started out as a a “poor man’s” food, and was made with whatever people could catch and/or had on hand at the time.  By 1803 though, gumbo had already established itself as a local favorite, and was served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans.  No one knows where gumbo was originated, but the name gumbo is derived from the West African word for okra, quingombo.  Okra is most definitely one of the key ingredients of any gumbo.  It was originally used as a thickener for gumbo, as well as file, before the times of refrigeration.  All gumbos are made and thickened with either one or a combination of all three of these ingredients, okra, file and a browned roux.  A roux is flour cooked with either oil or another fat, and is browned to various shades of tan or brown.  File is the ground seasoning made from the dried leaves of sassafras trees.  It is used as both a thickener and a flavoring agent for gumbos and other Creole dishes.  Gumbo, is ALWAYS served with rice.  There is no changing that.  That is written in the books.  Some traditions just cannot be changed or tampered with at all.  No, no.  That’s just bad ju-ju.

As I mentioned above, there are many, many different varieties of gumbo.  You can add whatever you like.  This time, I made mine with chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage.

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Mixed Meat Gumbo

1-1 1/2 lbs peeled shrimp

1 lb Andouille sausage, cooked

1/2 lb chicken, cooked

1 cup, 3 TBSP cooking oil (I used olive oil)

4 bay leaves

1 onion, minced

1-2 cups okra

1 TBSP file seasoning

1 TBSP garlic

3 celery stalks, diced small

1 green pepper, diced small

1-2 jalapenos, diced fine

3 tomatoes, diced medium

6-8 cups chicken stock

salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 cups flour

cooked rice

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Cook the meats and set a side.  Once the meats are cooked and cooled, cut them into small bite-sized pieces.  Cut all the vegetables and saute the peppers, onions, celery and garlic in 3 TBSP oil, until the onions are translucent.

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When the vegetables are cooked, add the tomatoes, okra, seasonings and the stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cooked meats.  The shrimp is added raw and will cook while the soup is simmering.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

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While the “soup” is simmering, make the roux.  I used the additional olive oil and mixed it with the flour. You can also use butter instead of oil.  I have made it both ways, and both are very good.  Using oil is a little healthier and a little less “fatty” than using butter, but using butter gives it a bit of a richer taste.  Both are good, and both are acceptable.

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Keep stirring the roux until all the fat is absorbed into the flour.  You can make it as light or as dark as you like.  The darker the roux, the more “nutty” the flavor will be, and the thicker it will become.  Play with it.  Different types of gumbos call for different colors and textures of the roux.  Again, there is no right or wrong way.  It is a personal preference.  When the roux is to your desired likeness, add it to the soup and combine it well.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the soup is thickened, then ladle it into your favorite soup bowls, and add a little rice on top.  I used my leftover dirty rice, which was just perfect for the dish.  Vegan Dirty Rice and Andouille Sausage  To complete the meal, I served it alongside a delicious, crisp, sparkling white wine. C’est manifique et bon appetit!

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Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

14 thoughts on “Time for Gumbo”

      1. I think if I had a favorite cuisine, it’d probably be Louisiana type. Gumbo is awesome, dirty rice, budan is awesome.. I think it’s just a food that you can put most anything in. And it always tastes great!

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