Texican Gumbo

Gumbo on a chili site? Man does not live by chili alone!

I've been experimenting with gumbo for some time, and discovered that, while I've never met a gumbo I didn't like, some are easier to make than others. And none are very easy! You should make this a social occassion (just like chili) so you don't have to do everything!

The following recipe is a compromise between the sublime and practical, and has been acclaimed by at least one other person! :-) It contains a few "non-traditional" ingredients such as turnip and zucinni, but you can bet every vegetable grown in the South has found it's way into a real Acadian's gumbo at one time or another.

Stock Ingredients:
5 qts water
1/2 chicken or four thighs
1 white onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 green bell pepper
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 head (!) garlic
The Roux:
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup oil
The Rest:
1 green bell pepper
2 stalks celery
1 white onion
1 turnip (optional)
1 yellow squash (optional)
1 zuchinni squash (optional)
1 lb okra
1 lb andouille sausage (or any sausage you like)
one can crushed tomatos -or- 5 diced home-grown tomatos
1.5 lbs shrimp
1/2 lb bay scallops
Ok, first the stock - it'll take about three hours. (I know that sounds like a long time and a lot of trouble, but trust me, this is something you need to do. It's easy. You'll thank me.) Clean and chop the chicken (through the bones, get the cleaver!). Dice the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery. Cut the head of garlic in half across the cloves and smush with the side of the cleaver. Add chicken and vegetables to 4 quarts water and simmer uncovered for one hour. Remove chicken meat from bones and set aside in fridge for later. Return bones to stock and simmer another hour. Add the rest of the spices and bay leaf and simmer another hour (that makes three!). Keep in mind that we only want to reduce the stock to about 2.5 quarts, so you may have to cover the stock during the last hour to preserve the volumn -or- you can always add water later. Strain the stock through a wire colander, perhaps adding a layer or two of cheesecloth. Salt to taste (I use around 3 teaspoons.)

Your house should smell *really* good at this point!

Ok, now we're going to chop up the rest of the stuff prior to making the roux. Cut the okra, discarding the stems, and put in colander in sink to drain. Chop the celery, onion, and bell pepper, and put aside in a separate bowl. (Optional: Peel and dice the turnip. Cut the squash and zuchinni into 1-inch chunks.) Slice the sausage. Peel and de-vein the shrimp! (Whew! Take a little break! This is why you shouldn't do this alone!)

Now, we're ready for the roux. Go to the powder room and then make your drink handy so you have no excuse to be distracted from your next task. Add the flour and oil to skillet over medium heat. Stir with wisk or wooden spoon without stopping until it turns a reddish brown (or whatever color you like.) If you see little black flakes or specks, you have to throw it out and start over. I've never had to, so don't get nervous, just pay attention! Please wear protective clothing during this stage! If the roux touches you, you will burn!

Remove skillet from heat and add the chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper (this is why we put them aside together), stirring for several more minutes. This cools the roux and starts cooking the "holy trinity" veggies. Add the skillet's contents to the stock. Add the turnip and tomato to the stock. Add the sausage to the skillet and saute until browned, then add to the stock. Simmer 30 minutes.

Add the rest of the veggies to the stock. Add the chicken you saved in the fridge. Simmer the whole thing until the "stringiness" from the okra is gone, another 20-30 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the gumbo's done, rinse the shrimp and scallops, and add them to the gumbo. You also have the option to get creative, by adding any or all of:

catfish filet cut in 1-inch squares (~ 1 lb). This is way good!
cooked greens (collard, mustard, turnip, spinach, dandelion, etc)
Serve over 1/2 cup white rice, with tobasco sauce on the side.

Once you've made this a time or two, try substituting a smoked chicken instead of raw. Just cut the meat off the carcass and save in the fridge for the last step. Use the cut bones and skin to make the stock. Oh, Baby!

My thanks for information and inspiration go to the Gumbo Pages website. If you ever need a fabulous recipe or sophisticated drink, this is the place!

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Copyright © 2003-2005 Wayne Preston Allen. All rights reserved..