Gumbo

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I've been thinking about making gumbo, can anyone point me to a good recipe?  I know there is some technique involved so any advice would be great.  I don't know where to get andouille sausage around here but I do have access to some excellent kielbasa so I'll be using that.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Roux is often touted as the core. It's important for color, offers toasty flavor, but I think it's over-rated overall in the dish. Make a roux as dark as you can without burning. Old penny is about as far as I take it in color.  

    My process may seem a little backwards, but I think it maximizes the flavors. Basically I cook the meat before the roux. Where you're in New York, you  can probably get schmalz commercially, which would make my order un-neccessary.

    I'm partial to chicken thighs and sausage as my basic gumbo. Not so much the seafood varieties. Kielbasa will work pretty well. Use skin on, bone in thighs. Cut your sausage up. Season your chicken, S&P, a little thyme, maybe a touch of cayenne. 

    Brown the thighs, skin down in a little neutral oil. Set the chicken aside. Use the rendered fat for the roux adding other fat or oil as needed in a clean pan. Chicken fat doesn't have as high of a smoke point as refined oils, but I like the flavor it adds to the roux. In the original pan with the chicken fond, cook the other side of the chicken, remove, then  brown off your sausage.  Remove the sausage to your chicken thighs. Deglaze the pan, don't lose the flavor. 

    Seasoning wise: thyme, worcestershire, fish sauce and hot sauce are the key. The fish sauce adds that seafood-like complexity and salt. Use it LIGHTLY, but do give it a try. Worcerstershire, add it late  in the cooking so you don't cook off it's sour aspects. Hot sauce at the end as part of the correction of flavors and at the table to taste. 

    Okra. If you can get some, I like it in gumbo. The theory is that gumbo derives from a Bantu word for Okra. Whole foods sells it frozen and is my usual source. My wife grew some last year and it was much goopier inside  than what you get commercially. The gumbo I made with that had a different texture than any other I've made. 

    File powder. If you've got Okra, I'd probably skip the file. Without okra, add the file.

    The rice. I'm a heretic on the rice I suppose. I picked up making a butter garlic rice from Todd Wilbur's copycat recipe of Popeye's Red Beans and Rice. Cook your long grain rice in a pilaf style. Saute it in generous amount of butter until it's gone from translucent to chalky white. Add minced garlic. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add your liquid and cook as normal. I like to pack the finished  rice into a small timbal/ramekin/cup and unmold it in the bowl, then add the gumbo. Not traditional, just what I like. My wife scolds me about it. 
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I suppose gumbo is one of those things where everyone has preferences and ignites hot debate.  The file gives it the distinctive flavor.  Add it near the end.  You can go with okra, or file, or both.  I don't think they're mutually exclusive.  The roux is essential, it makes gumbo taste like liquid fried chicken.  I skip the worcestershire, I use whole butter for the roux, and add the tabasco at the end.

    But our differences are in the mix of ingredients, the basic stuff remains the same.
     
  4. lagom

    lagom

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    I love the flavor of the really toasty roux with whole butter. I skip the okra( cant get it here most of the time). Bone in thighs and a nice spicey sausage( i use marguiz here) I like to make my rice pilaf style also but with some crushed tomato and a bit of fish stock. Also like seafood at the end where as ill add some tiger prawns, pieces of cod loin and scallops.
     
  5. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    I have a very quick and what I call 'cheat way' of making gumbo

    I think this recipe is pretty darn good, if not made the way most would...
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    K-girl, eat with rice?  Of course eat with rice!  ;)

    One day I was at a conference dinner and this chef from Hawaii had brought his students.  Food was served, one of the kids asked... "where's the rice?"  

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  7. oldschool1982

    oldschool1982

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    Absolutely with rice and it's not gumbo without Okra AND File. You need both! File is the ground leaves from the sassafras tree and it is, IMHPO, the main component of what makes it gumbo instead of a plain old chicken, seafood and sausage stew.

    I haven't made the stuff in probably 20 years. Looking back, my recipe included peppers, onions, celery. Okra, garlic, thyme, Andoullie sausage, chicken and shrimp. Chicken stock, file, cayenne pepper, brown roux and a couple of other ingredients.......they're "me" ingredients so I'm not near as willing to share. The roux was not as dark as the roux used for my ettouffe sauce. I really wanted a variance in flavor and color. Granted the file took care of some of that but the goal was a noticeable contrast if people ordered both in the same dinner. It did happen often.

    The roux is also a main component and yes, I've seen it a couple times, people would use caramel color to darken the pot. What a waste of all those ingredients so take the time to make a true brown roux.

    Bruce Aidells makes a very good andoullie sausage. Has good heat and great flavor. However, I would suggest trying to get authentic andoullie a least once. It's one of those you "don't ask the sausage maker" about but there is a huge difference in taste and texture and is available from select places on-line.

    edit: Forgot to add garlic and thyme to the mix
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  8. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Sassafras is a real thing? File? Where do I get that and what does it look like?
     
  9. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    File powder is ground sassafras leaves. It has an accent over the e. It will be right there with the rest of the spices at your grocer. Usually not with the alphabetical display of spices, but off to the side or lower down with the specialty seasoning mixes. 
     
  10. lagom

    lagom

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    File is one of the things i stock up on when im home, impossible to get here.
     
  11. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    BAHAHAHA! That's how you know who's a 'local' .... I have to have rice! While we were on our diet, oops I mean new way of looking at food, it was so difficult to not eat rice for me and then any type of pasta for the hubs. But there are certain dishes that I make that he HAS to have rice... I trained him well. ;)
     
  12. maryb

    maryb

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    Penzey's carries file powder(sassafras)
     
  13. deepsouthnyc

    deepsouthnyc

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    I'm not here to say that everyone here is wrong, but I am here to say that I wouldn't make any gumbo in the style of whats been listed here. I guess I have my rules and this is going to come off as entitled but I grew up on the bayou and my family has been making gumbo for years and years. With roux, the darker you go, the flour's thickening power weakens, so typically with a darker roux, use more. Here are a couple of them..

    Carrots, never please.

    Chicken and Sausage might have tomatoes but not okra.

    File powder gets added to each bowl by the guest, not the batch.

    Shrimp or seafood gets okra.

    Rice is great, but some old timers would convince you to serve it with potato salad in the bowl. (yes, i said that.)

    Sometimes a really thick gumbo might not be served with any stretcher like rice. (Commander's palace style)

    Edit: No surf and turf gumbo ie: shrimp and sausage or chicken and crab. 

    So lets discuss chicken and sausage gumbo... Make sure all your mis-en-place is prepped ahead of time. Lets make a gallon+ of gumbo because this stuff freezes so well.

    3# Chicken thighs, skin on and seasoned with salt and pepper

    1# Andouille Sausage, cut into pieces sized to fit on a spoon

    2c vegetable oil

    2c AP flour

    4qt Full Flavored Chicken Stock, cold

    2c Yellow Onion, fine dice

    1c Green Bell Pepper, fine dice

    1c Celery, fine dice

    5 cloves Garlic, finely chopped

    2ea Bay Leaves

    1-28oz Canned Peeled Tomatoes, roughly chopped, no juices

    1T Italian Parsley, chopped

    Cayenne Pepper, to taste

    Green Onion, thinly sliced for garnish

    Hot Sauce, I prefer Crystal to Tabasco but its really up to you

    In a heavy bottomed pot, render the skin side of the chicken in a bit of veg oil until golden. Remove from the pan and add the remaining vegetable oil and flour, stir to combine and over medium heat, cook slowly and constantly. Continue stirring until you achieve a deep hazelnut color, make sure to watch the sides. Stir, stir, stir, don't let it splash you.

    Once you reach the desired color, add the onion, pepper, celery and garlic. Cook directly in the roux essentially sweating. The moisture from the vegetables will keep the roux from getting darker. Once the vegetables are soft, add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir to incorporate.

    Begin adding the stock, I like the stock to be cold. Its easier to combine cold stock with hot roux. Whisk to combine and now bring it up to a simmer. Add your chicken thighs, cayenne pepper and season to taste with salt. Let this simmer, while it simmers, skim it.

    Once the chicken is tender, remove it, pick the meat from the bone into pieces small enough to fit on a spoon. Continue cooking the gumbo. It should cook for minimum 2 hours. At the two hour point, add the sausage and parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chicken with just enough time to let it warm through. Taste it, add some hot sauce until you are happy. Do your final adjustments of seasoning with salt.

    If you want rice, make some rice. I like potato salad. Get a big bowl of gumbo with a scoop of rice or potato salad in the center and throw some green onions over the top. Serve it with hot sauce and file on the table and french bread. Don't be surprised when that 1+ gallon of gumbo doesn't make it to the freezer.

    Edit #2: I've made gumbo in NYC and www.kalustyans.com  in Murray Hill has an amazing spice selection if you are looking for Filé Powder. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  14. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    ... and that's what makes the World interesting... we're all different, if we weren't this would be a boring place indeed... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lookaround.gif
     
  15. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Wow, thanks everyone for your imput.  I'm as excited as ever!  Slow cooking is right up my alley and I'm really excited to try this.  Once I get all my ingredients together and devise my plan I will be letting everyone know how it came out!

    Some questions, I've never had gumbo.  Is the consistency supposed to be like a thick soup or like a goulash?  What type of rice kernel should I use?  What does file taste like?
     
  16. goldilocks

    goldilocks

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    I'll be keeping watch on this with interest. I've had gumbo when traveling but have never tried to make it myself.

    Good luck Koukouvagia, let us know how it goes and post piccies if you can!

    Goldi
     
  17. oldschool1982

    oldschool1982

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    Koukou,

    It's been explained where and what but what it looks like, similar to rubbed sage. The taste is hard to explain. It's not akin to anything I could explain. It is expensive and does help with the consistency. I guess if I had to pin down the flavor, it is somewhat similar to sassafras root. Not near as powerful sort of a lighter version almost what mace is to nutmeg

    Consistency is as subjective as the recipe. This is like trying to ask 100 Italians how to make the best marinara.

    For me, the consistency is more stew like. Like the old Chunky Soup ad would claim......"so chunky you'll want to use a fork but..........."

    For my guests, I wanted each spoon-full to have a piece of as much of every ingredient as possible. However, I've had some gumbo's as thin as broth and just as void of texture. Never understood why......maybe a cost cutting measure but those places had menu issues across the board anyhow.

    Rice for gumbo, in my kitchen, has always been plain old Uncle Ben's. Steamed or cooked in the oven with no flavorings, toasting or ingredients other than water, salt and butter.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  18. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    What?  I love chicken and langoustine in my gumbo.

    @Koukouvagia  file to me tastes like tea. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  19. oldschool1982

    oldschool1982

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    Not here to mince words especially since I did not grow up on the bayou. However, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Baton Rouge, Metairie and New Orleans. It's been years but I have spent days wandering the quarter and stopping at different restaurants sampling local foods. I'm not talking Brennan's or Antoine's (which are outstanding) but the little hole in the wall places scattered on the cross streets of Bourbon and other main streets. Okra had been in every form and there were several, as you put it, "surf and turf" gumbo's. Heck, even Chef Paul Prudhomme has a couple in his Louisianna Kitchen Cookbook.

    From what I learned of Gumbo, it was as unique to the area and ingredients as the people preparing it. Like most foods of the regional South, there were so many different variations but it was in the big cities where food became muddled and lost some of it's homestyle simplicity or unique approach. There were also gains so maybe that's why I experienced what I did. I'll also stipulate to the File not being in all gumbo. Having looked through some of my notes from back then, it was an optional thing. The memory just remembered it in all and it is in all my versions of Gumbo.

    I do remember the tomatoes you mentioned but was told not to use them unless I could get Creole Tomatoes......Tomatoes grown in the lower delta "brackish waters" of the Mississippi river. While in Atlanta, I tried for years to get them and was able to come across these only once. Basically, they're grown in limited areas so the supply and demand thing is a 3itch. As I understand it, all go to select places and people in the area and never see the light of exporting somewhere else.

    The tomatoes themselves have a slightly elevated salt content and it really changes the tomato flavor in addition to anything you use them in. The only reason I did get them was I had made some contacts on a trip in 1995 and a Chef sent me some as a gift. He was the same chef who gave me the instructions. Anyhow, I mention them because they are unique and if you can ever get them, it's worth the effort.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  20. oldschool1982

    oldschool1982

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    That's the ticket! I couldn't pull the right taste memory/words together....it's like sassafras tea.

    Thanks Kuan.....now the mind, taste memory and thoughts have become one.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014