This is the second gumbo recipe on this blog, the other on can be found here. I usually make a chicken and chorizo one, on good days I'll add some prawns too. Andouille, a coarse grained Cajun sausage is what I should be using, but I've yet to see it on sale. Instead I use chorizo, which isn't authentic, but its smoky-spiciness goes well in gumbo.
Gumbo can be thickened in three ways, with okra, with filé powder or with a roux. Okra is one of the few foods I really dislike and filé powder- dried and crushed sassafras leaves- is another ingredient that eludes me. So I have only made it with a roux, which according to Wikipedia is now the most popular method. This time I used pork fat for the roux, and was really pleased with the result.
According to the Gumbo Pages (and where else would you go for a gumbo recipe?) the three golden rules for making a good gumbo are:
- use homemade stock
- use homemade stock
- use homemade stock
Technically gumbo is soup, but not the light-lunch variety. It is thick and bolstering, served over plain rice- definitely a meal in itself.
Edit: Some notes on making the roux.
I don't claim to be a gumbo expert; I still have a lot to learn. I was looking at some other websites devoted to cooking gumbo, which unlike The Gumbo Pages, have photos. I was struck by how much darker the roux and finished dish were than my gumbos had been. So I experimented with cooking my roux to a milk chocolate hue, previously I had not gone further than a biscuit brown. The taste at the end is richer and nuttier.
It takes a long time to get the roux to this colour, at least 30 minutes. You can't rush it, it has to be done over a low heat, and be stirred constantly, or it will burn and you have to start again. And please stir gently, splashing yourself with this roux, or Cajun napalm, gives terrible burns.
The darker the roux the thinner the soup, but even so, it is still relatively thick. The general consensus seems to be pale rouxs for gumbos with seafood, and darker rouxs for richer, meatier soups.
|Gumbo made with dark roux|
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
800g skinless, boneless chicken thighs , cut into 2cm cubes (I bought 1kg bone-in thighs, and used the bones in my stock along with the chicken carcass)
200g cooking chorizo, diced into cubes
1 green pepper
3 sticks celery
4 cloves garlic
1 cup (250ml) pork fat or oil
1 cup (250ml) plain flour
1.5 litres chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme
Tabasco or other hot sauce
Bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
5 spring onions, chopped
Boiled rice, to serve
Place the chicken in a bowl. Mix together the ingredients for the seasoning, and sprinkle over the chicken, making sure it is all coated. Set aside while you deal with the vegetables. Peel and dice the onion, deseed and dice the pepper, dice the celery, and peel and finely chop the garlic. Set these aside too.
Now to brown the meats: Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a high flame, and quickly brown the chicken. Remove, and do the same with the chorizo. Remove the chorizo from the pan with a slotted spoon so as much fat as possible is left behind.
Start the roux; in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the fat. When it is hot, add the flour. Stir constantly until the mixture turns a biscuity colour and smells toasted. This takes a while, but it's an important stage for flavour. Stir in the prepared vegetables into the roux so the mixture coats them like batter. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened, stirring regularly. Mix in the meats and then pour in the stock. Stir. Season with the cayenne, dried thyme, hot sauce and pepper. How much cayenne and hot sauce you use is up to you. Leave to cook on a low heat for at least an hour, until the soup has thickened. Taste and make any adjustments you feel it needs- I always add salt now, and usually more hot sauce. Stir in the parsley and spring onion before serving.