How to Make Gumbo

Gumbo is a dish native to the southern United States consisting of meat, seafood or vegetables in a thick stew. It’s typically seasoned with salt, pepper and Creole herbs like thyme, savory and oregano.

Gumbo is a soup that is traditionally made with seafood. It can be served as a main dish or as an appetizer.

Last week, I had a morning meeting at the 101 Coffee Shop in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, I always feel like a fish out of water while I’m navigating her sea of people and roads. I was rushing late for a really crucial meeting. Being late irritates me.

Most of my anxiety was quickly dispelled with a few tastes of meal, particularly the corned beef hash. So it surprised me when the producer I was meeting with attempted to push me out of my comfort zone by asking me a question that most chefs despise: “What’s your favorite meal?”

I believe he was taken away by the quickness and efficiency with which I responded with a single word: Gumbo.

Many people have strong feelings about the dish’s origins and appropriate preparation. Some feel that gumbo is a natural outcome of French-Acadian culinary development — in other words, a reimagining of the original French bouillabaisse, cooked simply using ingredients accessible locally in Louisiana’s exiled region. Others credit the Bantu-speaking West Africans, whose name ki-ngombo refers to okra, one of the dish’s most common components. The Choctaw Indians are also mentioned for their kombo, or ground sassafras, which is a famous component now called as filé. Instead of defending my historical viewpoint – a battle I know I’ll never win – I’d rather talk about more essential topics like taste. And believe me when I say that gumbo is delicious.

I’ll be honest with you: I’m not from Louisiana, and I don’t have any Creole or Cajun relatives. I’ll always bow down to people who do so out of respect: your gumbo is, by definition, better than mine. To put that assertion in perspective, it’s like a Californian telling me that their version of Georgia Brunswick stew is superior. It’s having a Texan tell you they make a superior pig green chili for Coloradans. It’s not going to happen.

With being stated, I’ve had the amazing fortune of spending a significant amount of time in the magnificent state of Louisiana, having traversed her gumbo trail from New Orleans to Lafayette, enthusiastically preparing and loving the unique cuisine generated from her culture and location for over a decade. I’m proud of my outsider knowledge of this magnificent invention, which includes native chefs, people in the bayou swamps, and my friend’s 95-year-old grandmother (who preferred to disclose her recipe in French).

The reality is that there are as many different gumbo recipes as there are chefs. I’ll rephrase something I once said about BBQ: try getting 10 different people from Louisiana to agree on how to prepare gumbo, and you’ll probably get ten different, hotly contested solutions.

The appropriate roux — its components, color, and preparation – is at the center of the argument. To use tomato (Creole) or not to use tomato (Cajun). Filé vs. okra (never both). Andouille sausage is the best. Stocks, spices, and the components of the dish. Finally, a salad of rice or potatoes.

 

Good. You’re perplexed.

Greetings, and welcome to the world of gumbo. A hearty, intensely personal stew with plenty of flavor as well as mystery and tradition. As the weather begins to cool, this meal is one that every gentleman should have in his repertoire. Use the recommendations below as a starting point to learn, improve, or expand your gumbo-making abilities. I guarantee that things are going to become a whole lot better in your life.

Allons-y! (Let’s get going!)

Gumbo Cooking Instructions

I’ve included the bulk of the essential ingredients and decisions to make while making gumbo below. As you can see, there are a variety of viewpoints and approaches – and to be honest, this is just the beginning. To tie it all together, I’ve included my shrimp and crawfish gumbo recipe at the bottom.

Roux

There’s a frequent phrase among songwriters and artists on music row in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Everything starts with a song. The same can be said of gumbo — it all begins with the roux. Rouxs, which are made from a combination of fat (bacon grease, duck fat, vegetable oil, lard, butter) and flour, have long been used as the foundation for many French meals. However, in Louisiana, a blonde roux (one that is created rapidly) was purposefully or mistakenly cooked a bit lower, slower, and longer, resulting in a red/brown mixture with a rich, nutty taste. A new world of food was born, with a correctly cooked roux serving as the foundation for most Cajun and Creole dishes.

Even the most seasoned chefs have had difficulties with rouxs. In fact, I had planned a “seafood gumbo” dinner to welcome in the cooler temperatures of October only a few weeks earlier, only to burn the whole thing just about an hour before feeding 10 hungry guests. I sat there, humiliated; it had been ten years since I had burnt a roux. Nonetheless, I realized I had to abandon the gumbo plan (I didn’t have time to prepare another roux) and instead cook seafood pasta. It was tasty, but not gumbo-like.

Rouxs act as a thickening ingredient as well as adding a dark color and rich taste. Keep in mind that the darker the roux, the less thickening potential it has; thickening agents and procedures will be discussed later.

Making a perfect roux, you know, takes patience. As a result, I’ll tell you how I learnt it.

Roux is a traditional French dish.

Homemade classic roux in bowl.

  1. Remove three cool beers from the refrigerator, place the burner aside, open one, and take a drink. Ahhhhhh.
  2. Over a low heat, place a heavy-bottomed, cast-iron enameled Dutch oven on the stove.
  3. Equal parts flour and oil are measured (by weight, not volume). 8 ounces of flour and 8 ounces of oil in this case. Fill the saucepan with the mixture.
  4. Take a second drink of your beer.Homemade roux with whisk creuset dish.
  5. Continuously combine and swirl the mixture with a whisk (being careful not to spray on your skin – roux isn’t called Cajun napalm for nothing) until it foams and begins to develop a light caramel color (about 10 minutes). Remove the mixture from the heat as soon as it starts to bubble or explode.Beating a roux in a whisk creuset dish.
  6. Continue to stand, stir, and keep a careful watch on the roux until it achieves a deep brown/reddish color, around 45-70 minutes (that’s why I instructed you to pull the beers out of the fridge to keep you busy). Starting off low and slow is a good idea. You may always boost your heat to speed up the procedure after you’ve gained expertise.
  7. If it starts to burn, such as when minute black specks form, toss it away and start again. Seriously, a burned roux will make the whole meal harsh and off-flavored.

There are, of course, variants on the conventional technique, but I feel that doing things the hard way, as outlined above, just makes things manlier. Aside from that, the beer is tasty.

 

Dry Roux

Some individuals are adamant about losing weight (which I suppose reduces some calories). This technique is just whisking the flour around a dry saucepan (without any oil) until it becomes a dark brown hue. Be patient and keep a tight eye on the pot during the procedure, keeping the heat low.

Roux in the Oven (Alton Brown method)

Alton Brown’s no-fail, oven-baked roux is maybe one of his biggest scientific contributions to the world of cuisine. Brown recommends combining the lard and flour (in an uncovered Dutch oven) and setting it on the center rack of a preheated oven at 350 degrees F, rather than standing and continually stirring. Stir every half hour or so until the mixture becomes a dark/red brown color — around 90 minutes. If necessary, add further 15-minute increments. Although slower, this approach is convenient since it enables you to prep, chop, clean, and other tasks while the oven does the job of stirring the pot.

No Roux

Some people (mostly Creoles) think that gumbo may be created without using any kind of roux at all. I’m not one of those folks, therefore I’m skipping the rest of the explanation.

The Holy Trinity

Fresh vegetables, onion, celery and green pepper.

It’s time to add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, sometimes known as the trinity in Acadian cookery, after the roux has achieved your desired color. The trinity, unlike the French mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots), is used as a basis in gumbos, étouffées, jambalaya, maque choux, and a variety of other classic dishes.

The secret is to incorporate the trinity into the heated roux, which starts to break down the veggies almost immediately. Additionally, the veggies begin to temper the roux, which means you won’t have to worry as much about it burning as it develops a deeper, darker taste.

A garlic is stirred in whisk creuset dish.

This is also the moment to add generous quantities of chopped garlic – generally approximately 10-15 minutes after the trinity has been put to the roux. Stir the garlic into the mixture for approximately 2 minutes, or until it starts to smell aromatic. With a little seasoning, your home will probably start to smell like a Louisiana cooking.

Tomato?

I’ve mentioned Creole and Cajun a few times, but the best way to think of these labels is as city and rural people, respectively. Others draw a thin line between the diverse inspirations, however my gumbo has both Creole and Cajun characteristics. One of them is the adding of tomato to the stew, something proud Cajuns would never do. That’s great; I’m neither Creole nor Cajun, so a little chopped tomato in my trinity roux mixture is acceptable with me. The tomato, in my view, gives the end dish a good depth of acidity and bite.

Seasonings and Stocks

It’s time to deglaze the pot with a strong, amber lager once the trinity and roux combination has had chance to blend (Abita Amber is my go-to choice). Scrape any browned pieces from the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon.

 

Meanwhile, whisk in around 6 cups of hot cooking stock, one cup at a time, in one-cup increments. Of course, the sort of gumbo I’m creating influences my stock selection. Gumbo with chicken and sausage = chicken stock. Gumbo with turkey and sausage = turkey stock. Seafood gumbo is the same as seafood stock. Venison gumbo is a stock made from venison and beef. You get my drift.

After the stock has been added, I finish seasoning with salt and pepper, which I usually begin during the trinity step. Now is the moment to season with paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper, bay leaf, and maybe a bit of oregano. Of course, you may always add a few shakes of Tony Chachere’s all-purpose Creole spice. I like to add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce to darker gumbos to bring that umami aspect. Last but not least, you must have some Louisiana Hot Sauce; a tablespoon or two should enough.

Louisiana original hot sauce bottle.

Bring the mixture to a moderate simmer and cook for 30 minutes to a couple of hours, skimming the top as necessary.

Filé vs. Okra

Gumbo file jar with lady finger.

This is when the dispute really begins to heat up. There are some who feel that gumbo isn’t gumbo without okra, others who believe that okra has no place in the meal (filé devotees), and yet others who believe that a blend of the two is best. I’m an either/or person who never does both. To be honest, depending on the sort of gumbo I want to create, I use one or the other.

The common denominator between the two is that they both offer a distinct taste while also thickening the food.

To keep things in order, add the okra to the pot immediately, preferable seared off a little in cast-iron before adding, since this enhances the okra taste. The okra is cooked until just soft in the stock, imparting an earthy taste and thickening the dish at the same time. With my deeper, richer gumbos, I often add okra.

Filé is a completely separate game. Filé is a finely powdered sassafras leaf powder with a citrus, almost bitter flavor. It should be added after the meal has done cooking, or “off the fire.” In fact, it’s often provided as a tableside condiment with salt and pepper. It thickens when mixed into the pot, and I find it particularly effective in gumbos with a lighter roux and seafood.

Contents

Andouille sausage with knife on table.

Almost any meat or seafood may be used in a gumbo: fish, crabs, shrimp, crawfish, oysters, chicken, turkey, quail, duck, sausage, venison, and so on. Gumbo began as a hearty stew made with whatever was available, whether it came from the bayou, was slaughtered in the wild, or was produced on the farm.

The utilization of Andouille sausage above any other type is one of my few content opinions. This is a unique smoked pork sausage that contains garlic, onion, salt, red/cayenne/black pepper, wine, and other flavors. When grilled and served with Creole mustard, it’s a terrific complement to any gumbo.

 

Toppings

rice that has been cooked is the most typical topping for a steamy bowl of gumbo. I like to keep the rice to a minimum — it’s just there to add a little additional umphhh. It shouldn’t take your attention away from the stew you’ve been cooking for many hours. I usually add some sliced scallions, a shake of Cajun spice, and a glug or two of Louisiana Hot Sauce as a garnish.

The rice topping is not popular with everyone. People in the northern portions of Louisiana swear by serving their gumbo with potato salad — mustard-flavored, of course.

Finally, filé is a frequent topping or garnish for gumbos that do not include okra, as previously indicated.

Recipe for Shrimp and Crawfish Gumbo

Let’s put it all together using the recipe below. Take notice of some of my selections in light of the preceding rules. Frozen crawfish tail flesh is available by the pound at most supermarkets, or you can get it online from a variety of Cajun specialty shops. If you can’t locate crawfish, just double the shrimp number.

30 minutes to prepare 90-120 minutes to cook 6–8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into 14-inch thick slices crosswise
  • 3 cups okra, sliced into 12-inch thick slices
  • 8 oz. butter/vegetable oil/shortening
  • all-purpose flour, 8 oz.
  • 1 big coarsely diced onion
  • 1 nicely chopped big bell pepper
  • 3 finely diced celery stalks
  • 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning
  • 1 small chopped tomato (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 stein of amber ale
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce from Louisiana
  • bay leaves (two)
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 cups warmed seafood stock
  • 1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 pound flesh from crawfish tails
  • Hot cooked rice
  • chopped scallions

Directions

  1. Preheat a medium-sized Dutch oven. Cook until sausage is browned, then remove and put aside on a platter. Next, add the okra and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until just little scorched; remove and put aside on a platter.
  2. 45-70 minutes, combine oil and flour, stirring frequently, to form a dark brown roux the color of chocolate. Sauté the onions, peppers, celery, and Creole spice for 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Toss in the tomatoes, then the beer. After that, add the cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and spicy sauce. Finally, one cup at a time, stir in the seafood stock. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a low heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes to several hours, scraping the fat/foam as needed. Return the sausage and okra to the saucepan, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the okra is just tender. Stir in the shrimp and crawfish to ensure that they are well submerged in the liquid.
  4. Turn off the heat, cover, and set aside for 10-15 minutes to enable the seafood to slowly cook. The flesh from shrimp and crawfish tails should be firm and brightly colored.
  5. Serve in bowls with white rice on top and cut scallions on top.

Comment here about your family’s tradition, approach, or recipes.

 

 

Watch This Video-

The “sausage gumbo recipe” is a dish that is made by cooking and blending various meats, vegetables, and spices. It’s also known as “gumbo”.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the secret ingredient in gumbo?

A: This is a secret that could be revealed in many ways. Some say its okra, others claim its filé powder, while still more insist it has to have shrimp and crab.

What is traditionally in gumbo?

A: Traditionally, gumbo is a stew of seafood and vegetables.

What is the first ingredient in gumbo?

A: Chicken.

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