This article will not only give you three delightful recipes of gumbo, but will also let you in on the perfect way to prepare the rice you’ll serve with the stew from Louisiana! Have a look…
Remember, the secret of making a potful of delicious gumbo is to keep stirring the ingredients continuously so as to meld in all the variant flavors well together. After all they don’t say “Mix ’em and cook ’em in a pot like gumbo” for nothing!
Seafood Gumbo with Tabasco Sauce
“You know the thing about good food? It brings folks together from all walks of life. It warms them right up and it puts little smiles on their faces…“, remember? So, in order to have a cozy treat for six, gather,
- Okra, 1 lb. (finely sliced up)
- Shrimp, 1 pound (cleaned, shelled and deveined)
- Crab meat, ½ lb. (lump and picked over)
- Ham, ½ cup (cooked)
- Fish stock, 1½ quarts
- Tomatoes, 14.5 oz. (cubed)
- Scallions, 1 cup (chopped)
- Onion, 1 cup (finely chopped)
- Green pepper, 1 cup (chopped)
- Celery, ½ (chopped)
- Thyme, yield of a sprig
- Parsley, 2 tbsp. (hacked)
- Garlic cloves, 2 (finely cut)
- All-purpose flour, ⅓ cup
- Vegetable oil, 6 tbsp.
- Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp.
- Tabasco pepper sauce, 2 tsp.
- White vinegar, 1 tsp.
- Salt, 1 tsp.
- Bay leaves, 2
Take a sauce pan and put about 3 tablespoons of the oil to heat. Add the okra to this and cook as you sauté frequently for 30 minutes at least. After that, pour the vinegar into the cooking okra and sauté some more, and after about 10 minutes a brownish tinge will come over the okra. Remove it from the flame then allow it to sit somewhere. Now, take another cooking pan and heat like 2 tablespoons of oil in it, followed by the sieved addition of flour. Mix it well and then allow this mixture to cook for half an hour on a medium flame.
Remember, stirring has to be very frequent and once the roux’s all nutty and dark brown, throw in the scallions, the onion, green pepper, celery and parsley leaves at this point. Cook for 10 minutes after which the vegetables will soften. Now add the okra, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, ham bits, fish stock, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauces and a seasoning of salt to finish! Let a steady simmer set it for like 45 minutes, uncovered, after which the shrimp and the lump crab meat is to be added. Simmer for another 10 minutes and it’s done. Remove the bay leaves and serve atop hot white rice, garnished with chopped parsley and green onion.
Now, the rice that you serve can be simple, boiled white rice. But there’s nothing wrong with tweaking it a little bit to make the meal a real treat! To make rice for about ten people, you must have,
- White rice, 3 cups (long-grained and washed well until all the white residue washes away)
- Chicken stock, 5 cups
- Butter, 2 tbsp. (unsalted variety)
- Salt, 2 tsp.
- Onion, 1 (medium, chopped)
- Bay leaf, 1
Fry the onion in the butter till it becomes clear and soft in a deep non-stick cooking pan, on medium heat. Add the bay leaf and sauté some more. Add the salt to this. You can add some white pepper and about ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme to this, if you wish. Now, put the washed rice into it and mix once. Next pour in the chicken broth slowly. Now mix it all together with a spatula and place it on the stove, on a high flame to start boiling. Once a steady boil appears, cover the pan, turn the stove knob to low and allow the rice concoction to simmer for a solid 20 – 25 minutes. Remove the lid and check every 5 minutes to see to it that the rice hasn’t run out of liquid and isn’t sticking to the base. Add a little stock if the liquid dries out before the rice is fully cooked.
After the rice is done, turn off the heat, and let it sit covered in the pan for another 5 or so minutes. After that, run a spatula through it, remove the bay leaf and it’s time to serve. Take 10 deep bowls and use a spoon to stuff the rice into them and then top it with the gumbo. But if you like your food to be The Mask style “SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSMOKIN’!!!”, then let some hot Tabasco sauce run along the side of the gumbo!
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
This would yield enough to feed ten people, if you adhere to the following measurements,
- Chicken breast halves, 3 (skinned, deboned and large)
- Smoked andouille or kielbasa sausages, 1 lb. (cut crosswise into ¼” bits)
- Shrimp, ½ lb. (small variety, shelled, deveined and cooked)
- Stewed tomatoes with juice, 1 can
- Scallions, 4 (both white and green portions, chopped)
- Celery, 3 shucks (cut)
- Onion, 1 (big and cut)
- Capsicum, 1 (green, deseeded and cubed)
- Okra, 2 cups (sliced up)
- Parsley, ¼ of a bunch (both leaves and stems, crudely hacked)
- Garlic cloves, 8 (finely chopped)
- Water, 4 cups (hot)
- Worcestershire sauce, ¼ cup
- Vegetable oil, ¼ cup
- Margarine, 5 tbsp.
- All-purpose flour, ½ cup
- Beef bouillon cubes, 5
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Begin with marinating the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and then put the vegetable oil to heat on a medium flame in a Dutch oven. Fry the chicken till it becomes brownish on both the sides and then transfer it to another bowl. Now put the smoked sausages to fry, wait until it becomes brown and remove from flame as well. Now, mizzle the all-purpose flour over the vegetable oil along with 2 tablespoons of the margarine and lower the flame to medium. Sauté continually for like 10 minutes and then turn off the stove and let this concoction called ‘roux’ to cool down in the Dutch oven itself.
After that, add the rest of the margarine to the Dutch oven to melt and then throw in and sauté the celery, onion, capsicum and minced garlic in it for like 10 – 12 minutes, after which you must pour in the Worcestershire sauce, the parsley and season with some salt and pepper. This will then need another 10 minutes to get cooked during which you have to keep stirring the ingredients occasionally. Then, add the bouillon dices and pour in the warm water. Now, add the sautéed chicken and smoked sausage to this, stir once to mix everything up and then wait for a steady boil to appear. When the concoction begins to boil, place the lid of the oven on it, lower the flame to low and let the almost ready gumbo simmer for at least 45 minutes. At this juncture, throw in the tomatoes and the okra. Cover and simmer again for another 60 minutes. Finally, add the scallions, some parsley, and the cooked shrimp to this, and voila!
Personally, I have tried this classic Louisiana style seasoning to marinade the chicken which you can make at home. The yield will be about two-thirds of a cup. Just blend together,
- Paprika, 2½ tbsp.
- Garlic powder, 2 tbsp.
- Salt, 2 tbsp.
- Black pepper, 1 tbsp.
- Cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp.
- Onion powder, 1 tbsp.
- Oregano, 1 tbsp. (dried)
- Thyme, 1 tbsp. (dried)
Blend all of these together vehemently and use only about a tablespoon of the mixture. Truly Creole it shall become.
Louisiana Shrimp and Eggs Gumbo
This one will require almost two hours to be ready, excluding the preparation time. But, it is the perfect dish to make for a cozy winter afternoon. For a group of 7, you will need to have:
- Shrimp, 2 pounds (skinned and deveined)
- Eggs, 8 (hard-boiled and shelled)
- Water, 4 cups (hot)
- White rice, 3 cups (cooked)
- Celery, 2 cups (chopped)
- Okra, 1 cup
- All-purpose flour, ½ cup
- Vegetable oil, ½ cup
- Bay leaf, 1
- Bell pepper, 2 (1 red and 1 green, chopped)
- Garlic, 1 clove (minced)
- Green onions, 1 bunch (chopped)
- Onion, 1 (chopped)
- Cayenne pepper, ¼ tbsp.
- Thyme, ½ tsp. (dried)
- Tomato, 1 (large, chopped)
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste (freshly ground)
Begin with heating the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven and then gently add the flour to it. Keep stirring continuously when adding the flour. This will give you the roux for this dish. Remember to lower the intensity of the flame just before you add the flour. Otherwise, the roux will get burnt in a jiffy. Continue stirring this mixture until it turns a dark brown hue, and then throw in the chopped garlic and onion. Cook this until the veggies wilt a tad and then pour in the water. Next, throw in the all the remaining veggies along with the bay leaf, cayenne, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to mix all the ingredients well and then let it simmer for approximately 60 minutes. Once there, add the eggs and the shrimp to this concoction. After say another 15 – 20 minutes of steady simmering, your Louisiana-style shrimp and eggs gumbo will be ready to be served over a bed of steaming white rice! Do check the seasoning once before you take the whole thing off the flame.
Before I move on to giving you a completely meat-free recipe for gumbo, here is a rather interesting rendition. Enjoy! You will need,
- Chicken, 1 whole (cut into pieces)
- Ham, 2 slices
- Oysters, 5 dozen
- Oyster liquor, yield of 5 dozen or 4 quarts
- Onion, 1 (large, finely chopped)
- Bell pepper, 1 (red, chopped)
- Filé powder (red sassafras leaves dried and ground into a powder), 1 tbsp.
- Lard, 1 tbsp.
- Salt, to taste.
- Water, enough to submerge the chicken pieces
- Flour, enough to coat the chicken pieces
Coat the chicken pieces with flour. Now in a big, thick-bottomed pan, heat the lard and add the onion, the bell pepper and the ham slices one after the other. To this, add the chicken pieces and fry until the chicken becomes nice and brown. After that, pour enough water into the pan in order to submerge all the chicken pieces. Wait till the chicken becomes tender. Next, add the oyster liquor to this and bring it to a nice and steady boil. Add the oysters to this boiling liquid and flavourize the concoction with a healthy helping of gumbo filé. Season with salt. Stir well and then serve this hot with rice!
Coming from the French gumbo aux herbes, this one is the green variety to which either 7 or 9 greens are used in the roux to make the ideal meat-free meals for Good Friday, Holy Thursday and the entire stretch of Lent! Now of course you can use more than 9 types of greens with other veggies and even a few edible flowers if you want, as once the flavors of all the veggies meld, the taste is nothing short of divine… You must have,
- Allspice berries, 2
- Arugula, 1 bunch
- Beet tops, 1 bunch
- Cabbage, 1
- Capsicum, 1 (diced)
- Carrot tops, 1 bunch
- Celery, 3 ribs (sliced up)
- Chicory, 1 bunch
- Collard greens, 1 bunch
- Dandelion greens, 1 bunch
- Leeks, 5 (large and chopped. Only the green and white portions)
- Mustard greens, 1 bunch
- Onions, 2 cups (chopped)
- Oregano, 1 tbsp. (fresh and chopped)
- Parsley, 1 bunch (Italian flat leaved variety)
- Pepper grass, 1 bunch
- Radish tops, 1 bunch
- Romaine lettuce, 1 head
- Scallions, ½ a bunch
- Sorrel, 1 bunch
- Spinach, 1 bunch
- Tarragon, 10 twigs
- Turnip tops, 1 bunch
- Watercress, 1 large bunch (thick stalks clipped)
- Flour, 6 tbsp.
- Fat, 3 tbsp.
- Bay leaves, 2
- Garlic cloves, 2 tbsp. (minced)
- Cayenne pepper, ¾ tbsp.
- Thyme, 4 sprigs
- Cloves, 2
- Salt and pepper, 2 taste
Begin with the cleaning of all the greens under running water and then coring and stemming them. Now place the arugula, beet tops, cabbage, carrot tops, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, Italian parsley, pepper grass, radish tops, romaine lettuce, scallions, sorrel, spinach, tarragon twigs, turnip tops, and watercress in a stockpot, fill it up with water and then proceed to boiling them for about 2 hours. Once the veggies have softened a tad, drain the water and cut up the boiled greens rather finely. Remember to reserve the water you boiled the veggies in. Now, in the same stewing pot, heat the fat and add the flour. Stir until you get a uniform liquid which resembles a dark peanut butter hue and then throw in the capsicum, leeks, onions, and the celery ribs. Sauté continually for a duration of 15 minutes after which you have to pour in the reserved water you boiled the greens in along with the rest of the ingredients. Allow a steady simmer to reign for and hour, and then spoon out the gumbo on some hot rice with generous sprinklings of filé powder.