I generally think of making Gumbo — a Louisiana favorite — in February, just before Mardi Gras.
But with the weather turning chilly, why wait? Gumbo falls somewhere between a soup and a stew. Creole Gumbo includes shellfish and tomatoes, while a Cajun Gumbo features either shellfish or fowl and has a much darker roux.
This is quite easy to make but very time-consuming. It involves a lot of chopping and standing at the stove.
The one aspect of making Gumbo that can be daunting for first timers is making the roux. Roux is a thickener for the dish made with extremely hot oil and flour. Once the oil is heated the flour is then added and constant stirring is required. It may take as much as 15 to 20 minutes before the roux turns a mahogany brown. It seems to take forever, but at last it browns. (Should you be making this with a gluten free flour, it doesn’t get as dark.)
The nice thing about a recipe like this is that it doesn’t have to be exact. If you really like garlic, add more. If you don’t, use less. If you love shrimp, add more. If not, take it out.
Serves 12 to 18
Before you start making this, I highly recommend you have all of the ingredients ready to go and read through the instructions.
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 large yellow onions, chopped
5 red bell peppers, chopped
4 large celery stalks, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons thyme
3 bay leaves
2 14½-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce bottle of clam juice
5 cups of chicken broth
2 pounds of Andouille sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 16-ounce packages sliced frozen okra
2 pounds of peeled deveined large shrimp
1 pound of crab claws
2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning
4 tablespoons filé powder
In a large pot, one that holds 12 quarts, heat the vegetable oil on high. Add the flour and whisk for almost 20 minutes. This will bring the roux to a mahogany color. Making the roux requires lot of patience, because it seems to take forever for the mixture to brown.
Once the roux turns brown, add the onions, bell peppers and celery. Stir frequently until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, cayenne pepper and cook for another two minutes. Add the wine, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, clam juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then add the sausage and chicken and reduce to a simmer. Continue until the chicken is cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Now add the okra and cook for 15 more minutes. Add the shrimp and crab and cook 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Creole seasoning and filé powder and let sit for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings to taste.
Serve the gumbo over rice and garnish with chopped parsley or sliced scallions.