This Yankee tried his hand at making gumbo on Sunday night. From scratch, roux and all. It turned out a little more like etoufee in the end because I’ve only had thick gumbo, and it’s supposed to be a little soupy. But I couldn’t do that, in light of Soupy Sales’s death, so there we are. You start out by browning some andouille sausage in a cast iron pan, I used Trader Joe’s chicken andouille to keep things lean. Most recipes tell you to drain the fat anyway, so why not use lean sausage?
In the same pan I put some bacon drippings and then pieces of chicken tenderloin seasoned with Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, a staple in my house and great for seasoning Louisiana cooking. I didn’t bother cooking the chicken fully, since it was going to simmer later.
I was drinking Samuel Adams’ chocolatey, malty face-slap of an Imperial Stout. I’d had this at their brewery and was glad it got bottled! I deglazed the pan with it and poured the thick sauce onto the chicken. Then I whipped out my Staub enamel crock pot to make some roux. Amazon had a great sale on these, and still does. I was gonna rave about Staub is family owned, but they are now part of a conglomerate, so oh well.
You’ll want to dice your trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery ahead of time, because once you start stirring roux, you can barely stop to scratch your ass, much less cut vegetables, answer the phone, or open another beer. So do all that first. I used two small onions, two small bell peppers, and a cleaned, small bunch of celery heart all cut into small dice.
Next the roux, the important part. Roux is 1 part oil (or butter, if you’re brave) and 1 part flour. This recipe calls for 1 cup each. I threw a few pats of butter in the oil and made a cup worth for flavor. Over low-medium heat, you stir constantly, mixing the flour in, and slowly browning it until it looks like a Hershey bar. If you get black specks in the roux or it smells burnt, you ruined it. So use low heat, and be patient. I used a silicone spatula, next time I’ll use a whisk as tradition demands.
This is peanut butter color, about halfway there; I chickened out because I saw specks, but it was probably the Tony’s! Add the seasoning later. Friend Katy recommended taking half your roux out at the point you get concerned, and browning the rest more; I might try that next time. I didn’t have enough flour to start over, so I erred on the side of caution. I thus lost the famous smoky flavor for a rich, buttery popcorn type base.
When you get the desired color, add your trinity. This will cool the roux and keep it from burning, but keep stirring often. When the onions turn translucent, add some minced garlic, and chicken stock. This is where I learned that I don’t own a big enough stock pot! It called for 10 cups, I barely got 7 in there. That’s why my gumbo isn’t soupy. Now that we ate two servings, I might add more to get the right consistency.
This is where you add your seasonings- some Worcestershire sauce, a few shots of Tabasco, Tony Chachere’s, salt, pepper, fresh parsley. And add all the meat you cooked earlier, with all the juices, and some tomato sauce or paste. I used a can of tomato paste because it seemed very spicy, but it mellowed overnight. Next time I’d use half as much, and freeze the rest. Let it simmer on low for an hour, after stirring well to dissolve the paste.
There ya go. Gumbo Yankee style. If you can find gumbo filé, which is ground sassafras root for flavor and thickening, you can sprinkle some on last. Tony Chachere makes some, I have it on order from Cajun Grocer– recommended by Caitlin over at the movie blog 1416 and Counting. The base recipe came from Firecracker’s Sis, who told me the most important part- don’t eat it right away! Keep it in the fridge overnight and let the flavors mingle. It tasted amazing the next night, when we heated it up and ate it over rice with some Abita Pecan Harvest Ale, my favorite of their seasonal brews. I learned some lessons- good gumbo is easy, but great classic gumbo is harder to master. But it’s a lot of fun trying.
Ingredients, corrected for what I learned:
1 cup canola oil and 1 tbsp butter
1 cup flour
1 tbsp bacon drippings or cooking oil, for the chicken
1 lb chicken pieces, cut into cubes
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
2 small onions,
2 bell peppers,
1 bunch celery all diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 drops Tabasco sauce
5 squirts Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Some Abita beer for drinking, deglazing, and adding some!