A Pot of Gumbo

Gumbo, in all its many varieties, is a much loved tradition in Louisiana. Gumbo has been a part of the Louisiana heritage since the early 18th century. Today, seafood gumbo seems to be the most popular variety of them all, though a gumbo is a combination of whatever you’ve got, and it all gets thrown into the pot together, meaning it will change every time you make it, and that’s exactly how it is supposed to be too. Gumbo is enjoyed by all, regardless of their background or status. A steaming bowl of fragrant gumbo is one of life’s cherished pleasures, as emblematic of Louisiana as chili is of Texas.

Gumbo is often cited as an example of the melting-pot nature of Louisiana cooking, but trying to sort out the origins and evolution of the dish is highly speculative. The name derives from a West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra. The use of filΓ© (dried and ground sassafras leaves) was a contribution of the Choctaws and, possibly, other local tribes. Roux has its origin in French cuisine, although the roux used in gumbos is much darker than its Gallic cousins. Gumbo, like most Americans, is one big melting pot of flavors and goodness all blended together.

I was in a gumbo kind of mood the other day, and like I always do when making it, I made a big pot of steaming gumbo. I loaded it up with shrimp, Andouille sausage and chicken. Of course I started off with the Holy trinity, or as I like to call it, the Holy trinity +1, because I usually add jalapenos or peppers too. But the roux is glue that holds all theses savory ingredients together. The roux is what really determines the outcome of your gumbo. There are different kinds of roux, just like there are different kinds of gumbos. I served my gumbo with red beans and rice with a cool, some warmed cheddar and jalapeno bread and a crisp citrusy chardonnay on the side.

There is no ONE way to make a gumbo. There are infinite recipes. Gumbo is one of those dishes that allows you to be as creative as you like. The only rules are to start with a good roux and the Holy trinity. From there, your are left to your own inspirations and creativity. I had a bunch of tomatoes to use, so I made my gumbo with a creamy tomato base this time. Fresh Tomatoes. I used one of my ginormous tomatoes, and that was all this recipe needed.

This time, I made a creamy roux.

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

2-3 TBSP butter

Combine the oil, butter and flour together in a large, very HOT pot or Dutch oven. Whisk everything over a medium-high flame until it turns a rich, light caramel color. This can take 30-40 minutes of constant whisking, so be patient with it.

Once the roux gets to the color and consistency you like, add the Holy trinity, which is green bell peppers, onions, and celery. I always add jalapenos or roasted peppers too, so I call it the Holy tr1nity +1. We recently purchased our bushels of roasted Hatch chilies, so I used some of those in the mix. Another Hatch Batch Continue to whisk everything together for about 5-10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. The roux will thicken as it cooks too.

Add the chicken, and sausage and continue to cook until they are cooked completely. Then add the rest of your ingredients. Add a minimum of 6-8 cups of chicken broth, but more if like it a little thinner and more soup-like. I added the shrimp along with the broth, tomato and seasonings. I used oregano, marjoram, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper as my spices. In Cajun and Creole cooking, the best cooks NEVER measure anything. It is all by taste, by touch and by the looks. I probably added about 1-1 1/2 tsp of each of the dried herbs.

Can you believe this is jus ONE tomato?????? I’m telling you, they were HUGE!

Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook at a low heat for about 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

I had a helper who got tired of waiting.

When everything was ready, I served it all over some red beans and rice and topped it all with some fresh parsley, and then it was time to let the good times roll; laissez le bontemps roulez!

Enjoy your days and live life to the fullest. Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

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.

10 thoughts on “A Pot of Gumbo”

  1. I’ve never eaten Gumbo (allergic to fish & shellfish and also vegetarian) but this does sound like it has the most incredible mix of flavours. I know that non-fish/meat versions will never match up to this historic recipe so it’s probably best not to try — it looks amazing, btw!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband who grew up in New Orleans always tells gumbo stories, and his mother, may she rest in peace, somehow was able to make a kosher gumbo (that means no shellfish and no mixing meat and dairy). I have never tried it, though, but I willing to experiment with kosher ingredients.

    Liked by 1 person

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