Some of my loyal followers here know that I worked a couple of Blues Festivals (Southside Shuffle & Kitchener Blues Festival) over the summer with Mississippi Queen Foods. If there was anything I learned while working with the Mississippi Queen a.k.a Connie herself is that if your going to serve southern to a bunch of
BoozeHounds I mean Blues Fans it had better be good – and if its good people will LOVE it! I tried my hand out at making some Gumbo myself last weekend and have the pictures to prove it 🙂 and damned if I don’t think it tastes pretty freaking awesome!
But first the lesson part of today 🙂 What is Gumbo exactly anyway? Gumbo is a soup/stew that typically contains 3 different meats, or whatever you have, with a base is made from a roux, the “Holy Trinity” of onions, green peppers and celery (the base to a lot of creole or cajun dishes). It usually contains Okra, Andouille Sausage (spicy pork sausage native to the N’awlins area) and seafood. Gumbo was born on the plantations where the slave owners would throw the slaves the “scraps” and thus Gumbo was born (hey I didn’t say it had a pretty beginning!) .
When I decided to try my hand at Gumbo I didn’t have any filé (ground Sassafras leaf) which is used as a thickener & to add flavour, instead I used okra as a thickener. (If you are wondering where you can buy the filé or other southern groceries here in Canada – take a look at the MQF – General Store.)
The first thing I did was start my stock – you can use chicken stock or water, but I was making my gumbo with shrimp and was peeling them anyway so I went ahead and made my own shrimp stock.
Peel shrimp for gumbo, add peels to a pot of water with a roughly chopped/chunked onion, a green pepper and a tomato (I used organic ones from my local farmer, Svetec Farms but any will do). Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until you need it (at least an hour or so), when ready to use, pour stock thru strainer and disregard veggies & peels.
Here’s my recipe!
The Joy of Gumbo (come on – I haven’t made a “Joy” reference for a long time!)
You will need:
- 1/3 LB chopped lean bacon (pay more and get the less fatty ones – we use side bacon)
- 2 cups chopped okra (wash, cut stem off and chop
- 1 LB spicy pork sausage
- 10 tomatoes chopped
- 1-2 Jalapeno’s chopped
- 1/2 c butter – melted (or lard 0r bacon fat! yikes!)
- 2/3 c all-purpose flour
- 2 cups or so chopped onion
- 4 green onions – chopped
- 10 small green peppers diced finely
- 2/3 c celery chopped
- 2 TB parsley
- 3 TB minced garlic
- 8 c Shrimp Stock
- 2 Bay Leaves
- salt & pepper to taste
- 10 dashes Louisiana Hot Sauce (or cayenne pepper sauce)
- 1 Tsp dried Thyme
- 1 1/2 LB peeled uncooked shrimp – large sized
- 1/2 LB peeled uncooked shrimp – small
- stock pot, sauce pan, frying pan/skillet, strainer
Gumbo is an all day process – or ideally overnight – leave yourself lots of time!
Time saver hint: Use a food processor to shred or chop your veggies except okra and tomatoes.
- Brown the sausage in the skillet – preferably use andouille sausage but if you are here in Canada its harder to get – I used a hot pork sausage, removed it from the casing and added cajun spice to it.
- Once the sausages are browned, discard the fat in the skillet, drain sausage meat on paper towel and set aside. Add bacon to skillet and. cook until well done. Remove to paper towel and set aside.
- Stir the okra into the hot bacon grease and saute for about 5 minutes, drain the okra in a colander and discard the bacon drippings.
- In saucepan, add okra, jalapeno and tomatoes over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the okra mixture for about 10 minutes.
- In a large stock pot, melt the butter (or lard) over medium heat, and cook and stir the onion, green onions, green pepper, celery, parsley, and garlic until the onion begins to turn brown.
- After about 10 minutes, remove the vegetables but leave the butter in the pot
- Pour a glass of wine. (you’ll be standing in one place for a while – might as well enjoy it)
- Stir in the flour, reduce heat to low, and cook the roux, stirring constantly, until it darkens in colour (anywhere from carmel to a milk chocolate colour).
30 to 45 minutes.
- Whisk in 2 cups of water or stock
- Do not the roux burn.
- When the roux is the correct colour, Raise the heat to medium; stir in salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves, bring the mixture to a
boil and stir in the sausage, bacon, okra-tomato mixture, and 6 more cups of
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the gumbo, stirring occasionally, until the soup has thickened and the flavors are blended, about 45 minutes.
Stir in the shrimp, and simmer until they turn pink and opaque, 6 to 8 more minutes. Discard bay leaves and adjust the seasonings, if desired, before serving.
Optional Step but I recommend.
- If you can stand it, let the soup simmer for a few hours skimming fat/grease off the top every so often. Personally, I like to refrigerate it overnight and let the fat form a layer on top, it can then can be easily skimmed off in the morning.
I serve this with Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Muffins /Loaf. (Yes- I know its a stone and not a cast iron skillet – I couldn’t find my skillet- I sprayed the stone and preheated it previous to adding the batter, it worked pretty well)
Interesting to note: In Mississippi style southern cornbread there is no sugar or honey, the sweeter version is more popular in the north. I make and prefer the unsweetened classic version but I had extra jalapeno’s so I them in.
You may wish to use filé or offer to anyone that wants a thicker gumbo (although this is pretty damn thick!). You can substitute the meat ingredients however you wish, chicken, catfish, crabmeat, crawfish, etc
Try it! En”JOY” <grin> it and let me know what you think!
Till next time y’all
from my kitchen to yours, happy & healthy eating