Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gumbo

Guest Chef tonight!!! This is dad/husband sitting in on the blog, so forgive the typos and creative spellings that are inevitable as I hunt and peck my way across the keyboard.  My wife and I don't see eye-to-eye on a few things, and gumbo is assuredly one of them.  For me, it is one of the best things to ever come out of ours, or any other kitchen...for my wife, not so much.  I don't know how long it has been since I've made gumbo.  I know it is a PBE (pre-blog-era) food, but it has probably been five years since our last gumbo, because our son claims to have never eaten it before.  Gumbo is a labor of love, so if you are not sure it is a food you like, let someone else make it for you the first time, or you will curse the colossal waste of time you will spend tediously stirring your roux.  The shopping list can be as basic or as complicated as you like, but the ingredients listed in this recipe should make it into the pot in some quantity.  The fine folks at Wikipedia just told me that the gumbo that I make is Cajun gumbo, which uses a dark roux, rather than Creole gumbo that has different thickeners.  Make no mistake, what makes this gumbo awesome is the roux, do not take this step lightly, attempt shortcuts,  leave unattended, try to rush it, stop stirring, or call it done before it is dark enough.  The roux must be cooked on low to medium-low heat in a large, heavy pot, and stirred constantly with a wooden spoon (I prefer the wooden spoon that is flat on the bottom, is this still a spoon?).  Have your veggies and meat chopped and ready ahead of time, because you will not have a free hand for quite some time now.  Start with equal parts of vegetable oil and flour.   Stir constantly until fully blended.  Once fully blended, continue stirring constantly.  Soon you will begin to see that nothing is happening.  Don't stop stirring!  Also don't splash yourself, just because nothing has changed, doesn't mean it isn't hot!  Continue stirring and you will eventually notice that your roux looks exactly the same as when you first started.  Don't give up yet, and if you need another drink, or have to use the facilities, have someone take over for you.   Just when you have begun to give up hope, you will start to notice a change, first in the presence of a nutty aroma, and then a slight change in color.  You won't believe your eyes at first, but remain optimistic, the color will start to change much more quickly now.  Don't stop now, keep going past caramel, beyond peanut butter, and when you are almost to maple syrup, then and only then should you add the veggies and stand back, there is a risk of steam burns at this point.  After the veggies cook for 3-4 minutes add the sausage.  Allow to cook on medium low for 3 more minutes, and then add the broth, hot sauce, cayenne, and salt.  Serve with rice if you wish, but eating it alone as a stew is OK by me.  The boy loved it, and so did the girl, so I am optimistic that we can gang up on mom and have it again in the near future!

Veggies:
1 onion chopped
1 large bell pepper chopped
8 stalks of celery chopped
(the above ingredients are not negotiable)
1 jalapeno pepper minced
5 garlic cloves minced
add any other veggies you have hanging around that you think will go well.
Roux:
3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups flour
Meat:
2-2.5 pounds of meat.
I used sausage only in this recipe (andouille, southern smoked, linguica, or even kielbasa would be welcome). 
Diced chicken or fish or really any meat at all will be fine, remember the flavor comes from the roux.
*if you use shrimp, be careful not to add until the very end, as it is easy to overcook.
Broth:
48 ounces of stock (chicken, beef, or seafood depending on your meat choice)
salt to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

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