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Gumbo

A Southern gumbo is a hearty soup that can be served in small quantities as a soup course or in larger quantities over rice as an entrée. Main ingredients are two meats, or two kinds of shellfish, or a meat and a shellfish, or a fish and a shellfish, or... there are infinite variations. That's why New Orleans chef Frank Brigtsen says you don't "make gumbo," you "make a gumbo." I had briefly thought about making the title of this recipe "chicken gumbo," but purists will tell you that there are only two kinds of gumbo: okra gumbo and filé gumbo. So, this is an okra gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage. Try it. Then try variations on the theme. For inspiration, check here: http://www.southerngumbotrail.com/introduction.shtml

If you're going to thicken a gumbo with okra alone, you need a hell of a lot of okra. We're going to make a roux of flour and butter and get a little more flour in the gumbo by sautéeing the chicken with flour. This makes about four quarts, so you'll need a five-quart pot. Assemble:

Prepare the meat: Cut the chicken into 3/4" cubes, dredge in flour, sautée until lightly browned in vegetable oil, and set aside in a bowl. Pour off as much oil as possible, deglaze the frying pan with water, and add to the chicken. Slice the sausage into 1/8" slices and put it in the bowl with the chicken.

Prepare the trinity of vegetables: Chop the onion, julienne and cross-cut the bell pepper to chop, and slice the celery ribs. You want about two cups of onion and one cup each of bell pepper and celery. Set the "trinity" aside, keeping the onion separate.

Skillet with roux blondeMake the roux: Put a half-cup (one stick) of butter in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven and melt over low heat. Add 2/3 cup flour and increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the roux is the color of peanut butter. Remove from heat and immediately add the onions. Add a quart of chicken stock a little at a time, stirring with the whisk to keep the mixture uniform. Pour the roux mixture into the soup pot.

When you start, the roux will clump because the water in the butter binds the flour into chunks. As soon as the water boils off, the mixture will become thin and syrupy, and it'll start to darken rapidly. It will also get hot as blazes! That's why they call it Cajun napalm. Please be careful. If you splash any on yourself, you will need lots of running water right away.

Cook the meat: Add the chicken and sausage to the soup pot. Add the tomatoes and the second quart of chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer for about an hour.

Cook the vegetables: Add the bell pepper, celery, corn, and okra. (Some people like to put in some sliced carrots, too.) After about 20 minutes, taste and season. You will want about half a teaspoon of black pepper, two teaspoons of salt, and about 20 shakes of Tabasco. Put in about half those quantities, stir, wait ten minutes, taste again, and adjust.

Meantime, after the vegetables have been in for 20 minutes, start cooking white rice. That will take 20 minutes, and the gumbo and rice will be done at the same time.

Serve in small bowls as a hearty soup or over white rice as an entrée.

Last updated: 2013-02-12 22:56
Orignially posted: 2011-02-03


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