It’s Fat Tuesday and this year I decided to venture out and make Gumbo. I served it up with white rice and a loaf of French bread with butter. It was yummy; and for dessert the four of us split a cinnamon King Cake.
Gumbo is a soup or stew which originated in southern Louisiana in the early 18th century and combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures including French, German, Spanish, West African, and Choctaw. It consists primarily of a strong stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable “holy trinity” of celery, bell peppers, and onion. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice file powder, or the French base made from flour and fat, roux. The dish likely derived its name from either the African name for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for file (kombo).
Two main varieties of Gumbo exist. Creole Gumbo generally contains shellfish, tomatoes, and a thickener. Cajun Gumbo is generally based on a dark Roux and is spicier with either chicken or shellfish. Sausage or ham can be added to either.
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 ribs of celery, quartered
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 large chicken breasts
- 4 quarts of cold water
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 3 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 16-ounce package of frozen okra, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 Bay leaves
- 4 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1-3 teaspoons Tabasco, or to taste
- Salt, Cayenne pepper and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 pounds Andouille or other smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- 2/3 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
In a large stock pot, add the rinsed chicken, onion, celery, salt and pepper, and the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat till the stock is at a low boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour with the lid off. Remove the chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid, and discarding the vegetables. Allow chicken to cool and then chop into bite size pieces.
In a separate pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to medium high heat (depending on your roux making abilities), stirring constantly with a wooden spatula, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, similar to the color of a penny. Drop the minced garlic in for 30 seconds and then add the chopped onions, peppers, celery, okra. Stir. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable/roux mixture to the stock in the large pot. Stir until smooth.
Add the tomatoes, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil, then cook for at least 1 hour with the lid askew, skimming fat off the top as needed. Also, check the seasonings and add if needed.
Add the chopped green onions and parsley, and heat for 10 minutes. Serve over hot rice in large shallow bowls. Yum!