Gumbo

1 Sep

Ladles, see that guy? That’s Paul. Paul’s eating a delicious gumbo soon y’all enjoy. Paul’s eating a delicious gumbo while doing our souper-special soup handshake. Lets rewind.

Note token bounty shot. All products purchased from Union Square Farmer’s Market. I call this shot: Little Farm / Big City. I had okra for my first time–not, to my surprise pronounced orca, like the killer whale–(Sidenote: okra sautéed with salt in oil is delicious. I think I shy’d away because of southern literature I’ve read when its deep fried. But I am going to stop shying away starting now!)

Next lesson: Roux. One part flour, one part oil. Heated over low heat and whisked steadily for 40 minutes (depending on desired color/flavor). You can whisk and do other things in the kitchen so it’s not totally all-consuming, but you gotz to stay in the kitchen.) It gets darker in color and as it does the flavor gets deeper and nuttier. We stopped when it was the color of molasses.

Paul explained that we’re doing this because it adds depth to the flavor while also thickening it. And it certainly did. You can add roux to everything, soups, mac and cheese, cream of whatever’s. It really does add depth. It’s like OH, I GOT IT, it’s like roux is to soup what age is to wine.

YEEEEEEEAH I STILL GOT IT.

Now we’re going to add depth to the vegetables. We caramelized half the vegetable bounty and cooked the other half (in the same pot) for less time to add different flavors. We salted all the vegetables BUT in order not to over salt everything, when we were adding new vegetables, we pushed everything already salted in the pan to the side, so we could just salt the new batch. Let that sit then mix.

Hard to remember? No worries:

Trip S: Split, Salt, Stir

And lastly, Paul pointed out slicing a jalapeno like pepper, not chopping it. That way you avoid all the seeds and innards. Really, it’s always been the small things that get me.

After two hours the gumbo was finally done– we also steamed mussels and roasted sausage. And it really did have a depth that our quicker soups lack.

Without further ado, Gumbo:

Hmm, this is a very approximate recipe, as I got it from watching many pots of gumbo get made, but never read the actual recipe. to make about 10 bowls of gumbo:

Heat the oven to 350, and make sure there are two racks in there.
In a metal skillet (no teflon), heat 11/2C vegetable oil, add 1 1/2C flour, stirring to mix evenly. So this is the start of your roux, which I suggest putting in the oven after you get to light brown, checking on it and stirring every 15 minutes or so, but it will not burn in the oven, and youll have better control of bringing it to the right color. You can take it out when it is that deep mahogany reddish-brown and it should keep cooking itself to the final dark shade of nearly black but not burned. This can be done at any time, but preferably beforehand. Once cooled and then refrigerated, the oil should pool on top. You can simply pour this off, and you will have nothing but the browned flour, which is all you want anyway. You will add this last, not first, as with most gumbo recipes.
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 or 4 ribs celery
  • 1 large or 2 small green bell peppers
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot cayenne
  • 1T dried thyme (or fresh chopped)
  • 1T file powder (optional)
  • 4 or 5 links andouille sausage, cut into half-moons or bite-size pieces, and roasted in the oven, until well-browned
Chop these to slightly larger than bite size pieces, although the consistency matters more than the actual size. Keep each vegetable separate, i.e. don’t mix them all into one bowl when you’re done cutting them.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add a couple swirls of canola oil, the oil should just cover the bottom of the pot. Add 2/3 of your bell peppers, and sprinkle them with salt. Let them cook over medium-heat high for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2/3 celery, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 3 more minutes, before adding 2/3 of the onion, season the onion with salt. Stir this all together, and keep the heat up, you are trying to get these vegetables nice and brown and caramelized. This step will take a while, and your vegetables will wither down to almost nothing. When they are done, reduce the heat, and add the remaining vegetables, in the same order, and seasoning. All you want to do with these is “sweat” them, but they should still cook quite a while, but not get any color on them. When you think they are almost done, add the garlic, jalapeno, and all the spices, stir them around, and let cook for 1-2 minutes, until the kitchen starts smelling like garlic and spices. Add 1/2G chicken stock to this, keeping in mind how much gumbo you want, and that you can always thin it out, but it is much harder to thicken, and bring to a simmer. Add the sausage about 20 minutes before the gumbo is done, but before adding the roux. This is your gumbo base, and you can add pretty much anything to it. Peeled tomatoes, chicken, seafood, okra, what have you. If you’re using okra, don’t add file, if you’re using file, dont add okra. If adding file, it has to go in with the spices, not at the very end, otherwise it will be stringy. The final step, once everything is in the pot (unless you’re going to be adding fresh-cooked shrimp or oysters), is to whisk in the roux, in stages, allowing to come to a simmer each time, until it reaches the desired consistency and flavor. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes to get rid of the pasty flour taste, check for seasoning (you may need more salt or any of the spices, i gave very approximate and conservative estimates), and serve. I like it most with creamy potato salad, rice is classic, and don’t forget the hot sauce and scallions!
That’s about it, i think!


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One Response to “Gumbo”

  1. julia September 9, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    Mary! If you like okra now, you MUST try this: http://rickspicksnyc.com/pickles/smokra

    The best in Bloody Marys!

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