Guess what I used to take that picture? My shadow photobombed it!
After someone passes away, it is customary to offer food. My sister, when we visited her after Josh’s passing, asked what I wanted her to fix. I knew instantly what I wanted: her gumbo.
To tell you the truth, I think she was a bit taken aback. I think she expected me to say her chicken and dumplins, which I love, but all I could think of was losing myself in the depth of flavor her gumbo brings.
Now, I should note, even though we were both born and raised in Louisiana, neither of us has a Cajun bone in our bodies—nor a Creole one. But my sister knows gumbo. ‘Nuff said.
Recently, for the sake of this blog, I tackled one of those cooking fears I had: this time, making a roux. Being able to produce an unburned roux is a matter of pride in many Cajun households. That seemingly simple mix of flour browned in an equal measure of oil is simply maddening. It must be carefully babied.
Some households down South eat gumbo for Christmas Eve, but I think it is good any good cold evening.
With that in mind, my sister created fail-proof instructions, so much so that when I asked her how long it takes her to make her roux dark brown (but not burnt) after attempting it myself (and it taking an hour and a half and two phone conversations with friends), she said around forty-five minutes. Having taken twice that time, I asked her what gives. Her response: she doesn’t start it out at the low to medium temperature that she recommends in the recipe. She starts the oil at high, adds the flour and mixes it, drops it down a notch, and continues to drop it down notches as it browns so that, at the end, it is on low to medium when that chocolatey brown is achieved. But she wanted to make sure I didn’t burn it. So my perfect roux took 90 minutes of babying.
How did she tell me to make it? I am sending the instructions part as she sent it to me…merely adding in the ingredients portion.
Also to note: gumbo is often served with a scoop of potato salad. Try it (provided you like potato salad)! It completely works! The more mustardy the potato salad, the better. And yes, mustardy is a technical term!
Source: my sister
1 whole chicken, cut up
2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 cup onion
1 cup celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon bacon grease
14 ounces smoked sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon parsley
4 bay leaves
salt, pepper, and Tony’s to taste (Tony’s being Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning—find it or substitute another Creole seasoning or even make your own!)
extra chicken stock, as necessary
Cook whole chicken with whole big pot of water. Take chicken out to cool when done. Keep broth it made for gumbo.
Start by making a roux. I do this with 2 cups vegetable oil to 2 cups all purpose flour. Cook on a medium to low temp till chocolate colored. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Take off of stove and add to big pot with chicken stock after it cools. If you do it before it cools, it is likely to blow up on you. I have had this happen. Not fun.
Now you need to saute 1 cup onion, 1 cup celery, and 1 cup bell pepper (I do not use bell pepper in mine), and one tablespoon minced garlic. Saute in bacon grease. (I keep all my bacon grease frozen. Do you know they sell just bacon grease at Rouse’s? Too funny!)
After saute, put veggies in pot. Now, brown your sausage. I cut my sausage before browning in bite size pieces. When browned, add to pot. By the way, I add all the drippings while cooking veggies and sausage to the pot as well. Add parsley, about 1 tablespoon, 4 bay leaves, salt, pepper, and Tony’s to taste. Add deboned chicken you cooked, as well.
Cook till flavors meld. What I usually do is cook or 30-45 minutes, then turn off and keep on stove for the rest of the day to meld till ready to serve. If your gumbo is too thick, then you can add some chicken stock to the pot. I have not found a need for this, at all, though. Keep tasting and alter seasoning as you see fit.
This recipe is completely Muffin Approved.
What is your favorite soup or stew?