What was the world like before gumbo? For me, a sad shell of what true simple, hearty food could taste like. I do not know the specifics of the origins of this amazing dish, but once I learned how to make it it changed my mind on how food could be prepared. The ingredienent list is not all that complicated, and the reality is that this recipe is mostly just a guideline. I categorize this as a kitchen sink recipe, you can throw in whatever you have kicking around, if you don't have chicken, use turkey.... no andouille? Try spicy Italian. Don't like seafood, leave it out. The biggest thing here you have to grasp is the techniques, specifically the roux.
A good roux can make or break your dish and I feel some people out there fail to make a roux that is cooked long enough to add that depth of flavor. I learned a long time ago that you should cook your roux according to beers, I prefer a four beer roux. Specifically that means you should start your roux, drink four beers and then it will be ready. Now there are occasions for 6 or 7 beer rouxs, but I would recommend taking turns with some one. Hot oil and a lot of beers can be a dangerous mix.
1lb bacon – try and find a good locally sourced one.
1 cup AP flour
6 Chicken thighs – again organic, farm raised.
1lb Andouille sausage -I prefer Gaspers if you can find it (sliced into chunks)
1lb Chorizo sausage – again, Gaspers if you can find it (sliced into chunks)
1lb shrimp – Peeled and deveined
2 large yellow onions diced
1 Red Bell pepper – diced
1 green bell pepper – diced
4-5 stalks celery – diced
Salt and Pepper
1 head of garlic - chopped fine
8-12 Okra – sliced or 1 bag frozen if you can't find fresh
beer – I prefer a nice brown ale like Brooklyn, but a lager will suffice.
Stock – chicken, beef, seafood, what ever you have. (preferably homemade)
Step 1: Crack a beer.
Step 2: Reduce the bacon over medium heat, til crispy, in a heavy bottom pot. I use my big LeCreuset.
Step 3: remove bacon to paper towels
Step 4: Make the roux.
- You should have about a cup or so of bacon fat
- Add as much flour as fat
- stir constantly – and I mean constantly!
- drink 4 beers
- roux should look like peanut butter
- BE CAREFUL, this stuff is hot and WILL BURN YOU!
- Looks good, but taste horrible, resist the temptation (trust me)
Step 5: Add the Onions, Peppers, Celery, and Okra (if fresh) salt and pepper. Cook till translucent (10mins-ish)
***add the garlic after about 6 mins
Step 6: Add about one beer. Pour in slowly so your roux don't clump!
Step 7: Add the sausage, cook for about 5 minutes to marry the flavors.
Step 7: Add the chicken - *see note
Step8: Add the stock. Just enough to cover. If you need more liquid you can add
water.....or more beer.
Step 9: Bring to a boil, reduce to med/low and simmer for about an hour or so.
Step 10: Add the Okra if using frozen, simmer ten more minutes.
Step11: Add the shrimp, cook for about 2 – 3 minutes as not to over cook the shrimp.
Step 11: Call everyone to the table and enjoy.
*Can be served with rice, cornbread, more beer, and if the bacon is still around (ususally not in my house) crumble if on top.
I like to salt and pepper the chicken and let it sit for about twenty minutes. Then pan sear the chicken, skin side down to get a nice brown crust before moving it to the pot. You can also deglaze this pan with stock, beer or perhaps some bourbon for an additional flavor boost.
The players here will give you a lot of flavor, but you can also add your own variations. I almost always put Bay leaves in everything, same with thyme. An addition of Paprika at the same time as the onions will give you a wonderful hue, I like Tumeric for the same reason.
**more freaking notes, WTF!
I think a part of cooking that has been lost is the frugality of it. This being a poor dish, everything was used. If you have scraps from the onions and celery, simmer them in your stock for more flavor, same goes with the shrimp shells. Frugal is not a bad word.