After the successful introduction of quinoa to my family last week, the expectation has been set pretty high with everyone saying “so what are you cooking for us next week?!”. This week I bring gumbo. “Gum… what?” They said. Gumbo, a Southern American favourite – is a stew is so full flavour. It took me a few hours to make and on the day before as it gets better with time. But its well worth the effort. I even had requests for leftovers to take to lunch the next day.
You’ll find all different sorts of gumbo recipes on the web and it's up to you what goes into it, however there are a few key ingredients that makes gumbo unique. These include capsicum, celery and onion (what is known as Cajun the holy trinity), okra and the mixture of herbs listed in the recipe below. As far as the method goes, the steps, though lengthy are basic. Brown off meat > make roux (this determines the colour of the gumbo at the end) > add the greens, herbs, meat and stock > simmer> add okra > simmer more > serve.
1kg chicken thigh fillets - cubed
1/4 cup cajun spices (refer to my BBQ Cajun Chicken post for more detail)
500g chorizo sausages – sliced (can also use any other smoked, cured sausage)
250g bacon - roughly chopped
1 to 3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup oil, margarine, butter, lard (some sort of fat – depending on your dietary requirements)
1 large capsicum – diced
3 sticks celery – diced
1 large onion – diced
2 to 3 green onions, scallions, shallots – diced (whatever you have available)
1/2 cup okra - chopped (usually find them frozen)
> Herbs & Spices
6 to 8 cloves garlic – minced
3 dried bay leaves
generous serves (about 1 to 3 tablespoons) of dried herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley, basil)
Salt & pepper – to taste
> 4 cups of chicken stock
1. Brown the meat – in a large, heavy base pot, heat oil and fry sausages, set aside. To same pot fry bacon lightly, set aside with sausages. To same pot add chicken (you may need to do it in batches to not crowd the pan). Add oil if necessary. Set chicken aside. The base may catch from all this fry. That’s fine, it will lift soon enough.
2. Make roux – Under medium to low heat, heat fat to a runny, almost bubby consistency. Add flour and stir with whisk constantly, until roux becomes smooth, silky and a deep chocolate brown. (approximately 20 to 30 minutes -longer if your heat is lower). Be sure not to burn your roux. If you smell the flour burning, lower the heat. If you start seeing black specks, you’ve burnt it, throw it out and start again. Here is a good example of making a dark roux. The darkness of your roux will determine the darkness of the gumbo. When the roux reaches the right colour, add the onions, capsicum and celery to the roux, turn off the heat, and keep stirring until the roux cools down to stop it from cooking/browning further.
3. Combine and simmer – Once the roux is cooled slightly, return the pot to a medium heat and added stock, meats, herbs and spices (including garlic and cayenne pepper). Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in okra and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning – add salt if necessary. At this point, if you want to add seafood, you add it now and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until seafood is cooked. You can also add gumbo filé.
4. Serve – Serve over hot rice (or corn bread) with fresh parsley.