Gumbo is a mainstay in Louisiana. We love it here in Texas too and it can be made with a variety of meats. This is my version of two varieties. It is flavorful, and will warm you to the bone. Making gumbo is not for the fast food cook, as it can take up to two or three hours to prepare.
Stock – The base for the rich, and wholesome flavor of gumbo begins with a good stock. Shortcuts can be taken with canned broth or bullion but I allow at least 2-3 hours. I use very little salt in my stock. You can always add it to your dish, and as you reduce it and the liquid cooks away, the salt stays in. When making a large batch of stock, I like to strain out the liquid, and cool it down, and then freezing it in containers large enough for a soup for later.
Ingredients for the Gumbo
(This is used for both varieties of Gumbo)
¾ cup of flour
¾ cup of light olive oil
1 stick of salted butter
2 large onions chopped
4 ribs of celery-chopped
cups of okra chopped in ½” thick pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic chopped
- 3 large tomatoes-chopped
- 3 cubes of chicken bullion
2 tsp black pepper
- 3 Bay leaves
1 tsp Thyme leaves
- 2 16 oz. Cans stewed tomatoes-chopped
For the gumbo:
It takes time to prepare the vegetables and seafood, so prepare them one at a time prior to beginning to cook. The roux may also be prepared ahead of time.
(This will feed 10-12 people)
3 lbs. Shrimp – raw peeled (save shells for stock)
1 lb. Crabmeat
1 lb. Bay scallops
1 pint Oysters with juice
1 lb. Fish fillet-boned (save head & bones for stock)
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
(Feeds 8-10 people)
- 2 Chickens (whole) with necks, gizzards & liver (if available)
- 2 lbs. Raw link sausage (If using smoked sausage boil for 20 minutes
before adding to gumbo)
- 1 Onion-quartered
- 2 Carrots –cut big
- 3 Stalks of celery-chopped coarse with leaves
- 4 Cloves of garlic-peeled
½ tspn Black peppercorns
Pinch of salt
- 5 Bay leaves
In a stockpot add enough water to cover the chicken by about 2-3 inches then add the rest of the ingredients. Boil for 30 minutes, then cover and cook at medium heat until chicken is done. (It is done when the meat begins falling off of the bone. Remove the chicken, and continue cooking the remaining liquids for two more hours to reduce it by about 1/3.)
This stock can be made using shrimp shells, and or fish bones and head, using the same method and base ingredients as the chicken stock. (minus the chicken)
The roux is the base for the texture and flavor of the gumbo. It will require your undivided attention, so clear the kitchen, get a good large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, a long spatula that can get into the corners of the skillet or pan and all of your patience. A good roux (the most flavorful one) is a deep brown color.
Start with equal parts of oil and flour. I use light olive oil because of its high flash point. About ¾ cup of each, over a medium fire, and stir it with your spatula or roux spoon every 10-15 seconds. With each stirring, (careful its very hot) you will start to notice the mixture browning as you stir. It should brown very slowly, if it browns too quickly, it will burn, and you will notice black chunks. (If this happens you have to start over). When the roux is about the color of caramel, I like to add a stick of butter. As the roux darkens you need to gradually lower your fire. I like to have a pot of stock waiting right by the roux because when the color is right I add a couple ladles of stock to slightly cool the roux then I add my chopped vegetables (except the okra). Increase the fire slightly adding more stock as needed to be able to stir the mixture and cook this for 45 minutes to an hour to caramelize the vegetables. This mixture will have a beautiful chocolate brown color and a nutty smell to it.
Now add the roux and vegetable mixture to the pot of reserved stock over medium heat, stirring well to combine. Then add your chicken or seafood and your other favorite gumbo ingredients.
Serve over rice.
Bryan F. Slaven
The Texas Gourmet