Gumbo


This some good shit

Okay. After some rebuke in the comments, I’ve decided to post a recipe. 

Like most of the stuff I write, it’s laced with profanity. I like to think of it as a verbal spice to accompany the literal spice in the cooking process.

Jude’s Ass-Kicking Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

 
Pots and shit:
8-quart or larger stockpot or Dutch oven
Large skillet
3 quart or larger saucepan for rice
A smaller saucepan for warming stock
Several prep bowls for meat and vegetables
Knives and cutting boards
Wooden spoons (a fucking must-have)
A ladle for adding stock to the gumbo pot
Patience 

For the roux:
½ cup canola (or other good vegetable) oil
½ cup flour 

The rest: 
2 ½ to 3 lbs of chicken (I like boned, skinned thighs), cut
into bite-sized pieces.
1 lb. andouille or other quality smoked sausage (Klement’s andouille
sausage works well), sliced
thin (about ¼”) on the bias
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 quarts chicken stock or water (stock makes a much better
gumbo), almost at a simmer
Creole seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s, which you can get
at Woodman’s or specialty markets)*
Salt, Black pepper, Cayenne pepper
Olive oil
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
½ bunch scallions, sliced (optional)—just the green parts
Filé powder (optional) 

Cut the chicken into small, bite-sized chunks. Throw it into a bowl and season generously
with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning, and let stand for 30 minutes at room
temperature.

Get a big skillet, add some olive oil, and heat over
medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the
red pepper flakes and sausage, and brown the sausage. Remove with a slotted spoon, keep in a bowl. 

In the olive oil/rendered pork fat skillet, brown the
chicken pieces on all sides (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Remove with a slotted spoon and keep in a
bowl. 

Make a roux. Here’s
how:

In the good, heavy Dutch oven or stockpot
you’ll be using, heat the ½ cup of oil over medium to medium-high heat. When it’s good and hot, add the flour, a bit
at a time, and STIR STIR STIR with a wooden spoon (I have a wooden spoon that I
only use for stirring roux). Keep adding
the flour until you’ve added the entire half-cup. Keep stirring, and don’t forget about the
corners of the container. Stirring
prevents the roux from burning. Burnt
roux is a sin. If you see black flecks
in the roux, it’s burned and ruined. Throw it out and start over. Keep
stirring, and watch the roux change color. It will go from white to blonde to caramel to peanut-butter to brick to
dark. When it’s good and dark, about the
color of milk chocolate, it’s ready. It
smells great, too. It takes between 20
and 60 minutes to do this, depending on how high you keep the heat. When you’re new at this, I wouldn’t suggest
using any higher of a setting than medium. If you think it’s about to burn, take it off heat and keep
stirring. Then put it back on when you
think it’s safe. I realize that these
instructions are subjective. Deal with
it.

Be very fucking careful when stirring
roux. It makes a hot oil/flour
paste. If you splash some on you, it
burns all to be goddamned. So watch it.

 

Now you got a roux. What to do with it?

Take the pot off heat and throw in the chopped vegetables,
and keep fucking stirring. Add the thyme
and bay leaves to let them bloom in the hot oil. Keep stirring. Put the pot back on the heat when it’s safe,
and keep cooking until the vegetables are soft, between 4 and 8 minutes
(depending on the mass of your cooking pot and how hot it was). 

Add the chicken and sausage back to the pot. 

Add the stock and stir, goddammit, stir. If you don’t, the roux will be all clumpy and
shit. You don’t want that. If you add cold stock, you’ll get the same
problem. It’s got to be almost-simmering
warm. 

Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. 

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for at least
one hour. Two is better, but me, I can’t
ever wait that long. Don’t fully cover;
if you want, you can keep a lid tilted. Stir occasionally. 

If using scallions and parsley, add 5 minutes before you
serve.

Cook up some white rice (if you don’t know how to do this,
don’t ever talk to me again); serve the gumbo in bowls over the rice. 

You can add filé powder (ground sassafras leaves) to the
rice in the bowls right before you pour the gumbo in—just a sprinkle. 

I didn’t tell you anything about okra because it’s hard to
get it around here. But if you did want
to use it, you slice about a pound of that up and add it to the pot when there
are about 30 minutes left to go. If you
use okra, don’t use filé, and vice-versa. 

This is some good goddam food, let me tell you. 

It makes enough to feed a big-ass party. If you don’t give a damn about anyone else,
it freezes up real good, too. 

*About Creole seasoning:

 

Don’t want to pay for it? Here’s how to make it yo’ damn self: 

1/4 cup table salt (please don’t use iodized salt–it tastes funny)

3 tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder

3 tablespoons ground black pepper, freshly
ground if at all possible

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 tablespoon paprika

Combine thoroughly and store in a
jar. Add as necessary to whatever the
hell you want. Just give it a good shake
before you use it.
 

If you’re really pressed for time,
you can forego cutting up the chicken and browning it. This shortcut also allows you to skip
browning the sausage, but you still have to slice that up. If it’s the case that prep time is of the
essence, just start at the “Make a roux” part of this recipe. After you’ve added the vegetables, herbs, and
stock, throw in your sliced sausage and chicken thighs. As the thighs simmer, they’ll fall apart and
still be tasty. However, you’ll have to
add a bit more seasoning, as you’ll miss out on the
salting-and-peppering-and-creole-seasoning of the chicken while browning. You’ll still have a damn fine gumbo, and no
one will know that you cheated just a little.

8 thoughts on “Gumbo

  1. Couldn’t I just add some chicken and sausages to Zatarain’s gumbo mix?

  2. Whoever posted that last comment: I do not like you.
    I could be stronger with my rebuke, but this is a family-friendly site.
    Still. Fuck you.
    Yeah, I know you were kidding. 🙂

  3. “Be very fucking careful when stirring roux.”
    I have the scars to prove it. Lower heat helps prevent exploding bubbles of scalding flour-oil, but takes longer to brown. Patience is the key, and don’t leave the pot for a minute. Stir stir stir and stir some more. Consider it a slow spinning class for the arms.
    Bay leaves? It’s all about the inner dimensions of flavor. The flavor of green. Especially fresh (not dried) bay leaves.

  4. I love the ‘squeak’ of the Andouille as I soft-kronsche it! 🙂 For a good New Orleans’ food book (not a cookbook, more of an homage and obeisance to it) check out “Gumbo Tales”, I am enjoying the heck out of it. One chapter on Gumbo alone, another on Sazeracs! She chronicles trads and covers pre- and post-Federal Levee Failure on the establishments.
    (and some variants of gumbo can involve both file’ and okra and some neither! I personally don’t care as long as it’s gooooood! 🙂 My brother’s is an okra-style and it’s to die for.)
    Peace,
    Elspeth

  5. Can’t ya’ll get frozen, cut okra up there? The only time I use fresh is when it comes out of my garden, but cut and frozen that’s been thawed in a big bowl of really hot water and strained works like a dream. I add my thawed okra with the rest of the vegetables and stir like mad ’till there’s no more “okra snot.”
    If you can’t get frozen okra, I’m very, very sorry. That may make me re-evaluate any thought of a move north.

Comments are closed.