Gumbo

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rOland

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As a preface, I'm a pure-blooded Cajun and have never cooked from a recipe... I always used intuition as my guide when making my gumbo's. I'll format it as a lesson in Cajun cooking (as I've seen it done wrong so many times) here's an approximation of what I usually do, along with some hints and rules along the way.

Roland's Meat Gumbo:

1 pound sausage (spicier the better... use andouillon if you can find it... I'd pass up so-called "Cajun" sausage... as there is no such thing ;) )
1-2 pounds meat (chicken, duck, 'coon, gator...)
3-4 large, minced onions
2 green peppers, minced
2 red bell peppers, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, minced (optional)
8-10 celery stalks, minced
4-6 galic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped parsley
1/8 cup cayenne pepper (or to taste... I usually use more like a 1/4 cup)
2 or 3 bay leaves
salt to taste
2-6 cups roux (more later)

The Trinity & the Pope:
These two rules described with good ol' Catholic imagery are the base of every Cajun dish. These two simple fundamentals are often where people go wrong
The Trinity:
-onions
-bell peppers
-celery
The Pope is galic.
Easy, huh? Just make sure these four ingredients appear in decent amounts in any recipe and you're good to go.

Making a roux is maybe themost daunting step of a gumbo, but with patience it really isn't that tough. In short a roux is browned flour mixed with oil. For a typical 3 gallon gumbo (above) I usually start with 2-3 cups of flour (I suppose... I usually just start dumping flour into the pan until it looks right :D ). Put the flour dry into a skillet and start heating on medium-low. Slowly heat the flour, stirring often and watch for sticking and burning. If you burn the flour you have to throw it away and start again. With patience (and usually alot of temperature fiddling along the way) the flour will slowly darken from white to a nice tan. Here I find having a beer or two on hand helps immensely. It's a bid of voodoo I learned from my father. Once you reach your desired color (usually sooner than two hours) mix with an equal amount of oil and heat briefly. This dark mixture is your roux.

Some notes on roux: you want the color of your roux to match the meats you are using. Seafood gumbo's work best with a really light roux while gamey animals want a really (almost black) roux. Also, a fresh hot roux is always mixed with cold water. Refridgerated roux's go into boiling water. It aides in emulsifying.

With your roux done and all your meat and vegetables cut, throw it all into a 3 gallon pot with water. Bring it all to a boil and then slow cook it for at least 3 hours. I usually shoot for 5, but i guess it depends on how hungry you are.

Serve with rice and a pinch of file' (ground sassafrass leaves)... of and beer... lots of beer. Abita Turbodog is my favorite pairing, but any dry Amber or Light Ale would match well.
 
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rOland

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Dude said:
That looks awesome but like a lot of work!
It's definately an all day affair, hence the reason I like to cook gallons at a time. I find gumbo tastes better after it's been frozen. Maybe some of the vegetables break-down more when frozen? I don't know, but sitting back and watching it stew after all the prep work is a beautiful experience.
 

Caplan

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Nice recipe Roland!

Do you ever do the seafood version you mentioned?
 
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rOland

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orfy said:
I've never had it. Always heard about it.

So it's a Cajun meat stew?
Yeah, it's just an oil based stew.

Caplan...

Yeah I do occassionally just substitute 2-3 pounds of whatever seafood you want.

In a couple of months crawfish season is going to start up again, I'm thinking crawfish and turtle gumbo? I think so.
 

the_bird

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This sounds so damn good. I saw our local supermarket was selling crawfish (clearly not as fresh as what you've got available ;)) and I was wondering what I could do with them.

Hmm... Super Bowl next weekend.... this could be good.... no crawfish this time, though.
 

Brewtopia

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I make what I always thought was a pretty good Gumbo, but this looks better! I'm definitely going to give this a try. What's the advantage of browning the flour prior to adding the oil? I've always added raw flour to the oil and cooked stirring constantly to the desired color.
 
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rOland

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Brewtopia said:
I make what I always thought was a pretty good Gumbo, but this looks better! I'm definitely going to give this a try. What's the advantage of browning the flour prior to adding the oil? I've always added raw flour to the oil and cooked stirring constantly to the desired color.
I've done it both ways. I feel like I've got a bit more control with dry flour, but it's just a matter of preference.
 

zoebisch01

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cha ngo said:
How can you make gumbo without okra?
This is the great debate from what I understand. Okra is one of two commonly used thickening agents in Gumbo (aside from Roux which is almost always present), the other being file (pronounced Fee-lay) powder which is either the dried ground root or leaves of the Sassafrass tree (both are acceptable, although I make mine with the leaves and this is most common). In many homes the thickener is one or the other or Roux (sometimes a combination). I use both and therefore perplex both camps :D. That is really the heart of Gumbo (ie each house has their own interpretation). Gumbo is the Chili, the Curry, the Arroz Con Pollo of that neck of the woods if you catch my drift.

What is really kind of interesting is that the Spanish word for Okra is Quingambo, which comes from the African word Kigombo for Okra. Hence the 'Gumbo', although the File' interpretation is accepted.
 

zoebisch01

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Oh, one other thing. Roux is like Napalm. You do not want it on your skin! And the golden rule of starch based thickening agents like the original poster says...

Cold Roux to hot Liquid

This works the same for Cornstarch etc. This is why if you add cold milk to your hot mashed potatoes when you are making them that they set up.
 

Cheesefood

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I LOVE cajun food, I'm just intimidated by trying to ever cook cajun since there's always a lot of ingredients required and it's an all day thing.
 

zoebisch01

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orfy said:
Okra is one of the nasiest foods on the planter. Yuk.
Ladies fingers.

Aww, cmon now Orfy! :D

I grow it every year. Yes, you can grow it up north (in spite o' what all yall think)!
 

the_bird

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It absolutely grosses my wife out, but I love okra. Cassie'll eat it, too, but she's also always really been into green veggies (something that I don't think will last too much longer). I'll try and get away with it in the gumbo by telling the wife that I'm trying to be as authentic as possible :D "I couldn't make you Thai food without fish sauce, now could I?"
 

cha ngo

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I will concede that okra is optional and thank you all for the education on the matter. I had always thought that gumbo was synonymous with okra (see the origin of the word).
Also, Orfy, try some breaded and fried okra sometime. Thems good eats.
 

Brewtopia

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I will concede that okra is optional and thank you all for the education on the matter. I had always thought that gumbo was synonymous with okra (see the origin of the word).
Also, Orfy, try some breaded and fried okra sometime. Thems good eats.
Cha_ngo, do you ever get over to Yakima? If so, check out Ms. D's barbecue. The best fried Okra I've had this side of the Mississippi! Also great Jambalaya and of course...barbecue.
 

cha ngo

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Brewtopia said:
Cha_ngo, do you ever get over to Yakima? If so, check out Ms. D's barbecue. The best fried Okra I've had this side of the Mississippi! Also great Jambalaya and of course...barbecue.
No, I haven't made it down there. I am thinking of a road trip down to Puterbaugh Farms (hops direct) around harvest time though. I think that would be pretty cool. If I go, I'll be sure to check out the BBQ. Thanks for the tip.
 

david_42

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Great recipe, even though I would have no idea what to do with that much gumbo. Sure I could freeze some, but it would be a little like barley wines, I'd be working on it months later. Sadly, some foods cannot be made in small amounts.
 

zoebisch01

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Just a thx to ROland for triggering the ole' noodle to make some Gumbo. With sub zero temps supposedly heading my way this week, it is nice to have some Gumbo!
 
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