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Killer Gumbo

By Edited May 5, 2015 0 2

There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to a large, spicy bowl of gumbo. Growing up in New Orleans, gumbo (or "Louisiana Comfort Food" as I like to call it) was a primary staple in my diet.

Need a gumbo recipe? No problem. You can find one just about anywhere: cookbooks, newspapers, blogs, and websites. I have spent years perfecting my gumbo recipe, picking and choosing the best techniques from many different sources.

Last year, I mustered up the courage to enter a gumbo cook-off contest in Houston. I was up against a number of fierce competitors, each of whom looked to have years of experience cooking gumbo. The competition was judged by the many tasters (as opposed to judges) who attended the contest. After the votes were tallied I actually won! After I received many glowing comments about how great my gumbo tasted, I decided it was time to commit my recipe to paper (I have gotten to the point where I measure gumbo ingredients by taste and sight, not by teaspoons and tablespoons).

Although I have measurements below, you may want to tweak things based on your particular tastes.

I hope you enjoy!!

Things You Will Need

For the Roux:

1 cup flour

1 cup peanut oil

Vegetables:

2 bags Frozen Okra

2 large yellow onions, chopped

6 ribs celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 whole head of garlic, peeled and minced

1 small can of tomato paste

Stock:

2 1/2 large cans of chicken broth (64 oz. cans)

1 cup white wine (something you would drink)

Seasoning:

1 tbsp. Chili Powder

1 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. thyme

2 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tbsp. red pepper sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco)

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Meat:

1 package Polska Kielbasa sausage, sliced into thin coins

1 rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked, all the meat pulled off

Step 1

First You Make a Roux

First Make a Roux: The most important component of gumbo is called a roux. The roux will be the base of your gumbo and will serve to do two important things: 1) act as the thickener that will keep everything together and 2) provide a rich, nutty flavor to the dish. It is the one part that will take the most attention and it is the one component that you cannot afford to mess up!

Get a large dutch oven or large pot and heat it over medium-high heat on your stove. Add the oil and wait a few moments (30 seconds or so) for the oil to heat up.

Turn the heat down to medium.

With a wooden spatula or whisk in one hand and the flour in the other, slowly add the flour to the oil, stirring constantly to make sure the flour is incorporated (i.e. no lumps) into the oil.

Once the flour is incorporated into the oil, continue to stir until the roux turns deep brown. Technically, you could stop when it is light blonde, but for the best taste, continue to stir until it is a rich brown color.

This part may take up to 30 minutes. Take a deep breath and keep stirring - it will pay off! Do not, under any circumstances, leave your post during the stirring process. Keep stirring to make sure the flour does not clump or burn.

If your roux burns (you will know because it smells really really bad), take it off the heat, let it cool, throw it away, clean your pot, and start again. A burnt roux is inedible. Don't even think of using it.

Step 2

Okra

Add Your Vegetables: At this point, your roux will be very very hot. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add the okra. Stir constantly for about 5-10 minutes until the okra begins to soften. Next add the garlic, onions, peppers, and celery. Stir the vegetables for an additional 5-10 minutes until all the vegetables soften. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

The whole thing will be somewhat of a doughy mess, but that's ok. Your roux will continue to cook along with the vegetables and begin to smell great!

Step 3

Add the Liquid: Add the chicken broth and wine to the roux and vegetables, and begin to stir. The roux will begin to break up as you add the liquids but this is the part where you can kick back and relax - the hardest part is officially over. The bad news is that you now have to play the waiting game.

Keep stirring until everything is incorporated and reduce the heat to medium low.

Step 4

Add the seasoning: Take all the dry seasoning ingredients and mix them together in a little bowl.

Step 5

Simmer and Season: Your gumbo will need to simmer at least 4 hours (yes. I said 4 hours).

Combine the dry seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.

Add 1/4 of the seasoning to the gumbo.

Every 20-30 minutes, stir the gumbo.

Every hour, add more seasoning.

After 2 hours, add the red pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

After 3 hours, add the chicken and sausage.

After 4 hours, you should have a pretty nice gumbo. If it does not look thick enough, let it simmer longer. For the cook-off contest, I let my gumbo simmer overnight on very low heat (yes. I said overnight). However, I am not going to make this suggestion as it is unsafe. I will say that the longer you simmer the gumbo, the better it will taste.

Step 6

Enjoy: Now that you've labored over your gumbo, you can now enjoy it! If you can stand it, don't eat the gumbo right away. Let it cool, put it in the fridge, and let it stay there over night. I promise you that it will taste much better the next day. In the cooling process, the flavors "marry" and develop to become much richer and tastier.

You can freeze any unused gumbo and heat it up on the stove later.

I usually serve the gumbo by placing 1/4 cup steamed white rice in a bowl and just ladle gumbo on top. A big chunk of toasted French bread for dipping is a must!

I wish you success in your journey to create a great pot of gumbo! Let me know if you have any suggested changes to the recipe!

Tips & Warnings

Do not use roux if it has burned.

Do not use a wine that you would not drink.

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Comments

Nov 10, 2010 4:05am
freedomw
Congrats on winning the contest in Houston. I love okra. I dislike spicy dishes because they are too hot.
Jun 10, 2012 7:07am
toebunkers
I've never heard of Gumbo here in Scotland but am going to give it a try.
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