New Orleans Gumbo

1,389
13
Joined Jul 24, 2001
I am not sure about what to ask because my ignorance about Cajun food is striking so please bare with me.

Is there a recipe for authentic New Orleans gumbo?

Reading Larousse Gastronomique and forum's past threads I haven't understood if gumbo is a stew or a soup.

Also, what makes it authentic? The use of okra ?

Is there a chicken gumbo and a variation with seafood? Larousse Gastronomique says that you can add everything! From chicken and seafood to sausages!!! It reminds me of paella...

What do you think?

Thanks!
 
4,508
32
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Athenaues,

It is a soup,not a stew.

Both okra and gumbo file are used to thicken your gumbo.

This is from my book "Arnaud's Creole Cookbook" pages 68/69


"Gumbo,It's said that duels have been fought over which kind of gumbo is really the best----Okra or File'.Of course,around New Orleans,duels have been fought over a lot of things.Suffice it to say in Creole country,gumbo is the ultimate soup.It also carries a tangled pedigree that goes back to the farmer's Pot-au-feu and the fisherman's bouillabaisse in France,to tribal stews in pre-slavery Africa and to Indian boiled seafood in pre-Colonial Louisiana.
Like virtually and great stew,gumbo can be made with just about anything-and good times or bad,it's already has been.Chicken or Turkeey work well with the spicy sausage called Andouille, while duck and squirrel turn up regularly during hunting season.During lent,the Catholics of New Orleans are likely to serve gumbo z'herbs,in which meat is displaced by seven types of greens.Still,whether okra or file' is chosen as thickener,the seafood gumbo of New Orleans has to take a special place in every soup lovers pantheon.It useually features Shrimp,Oysters and Crabs (either picked out or still in shell)Once the roux is successfully browned and thicking agent is picked,perferably without estrangment or bloodshed,Creole gumbo is a matter of delightful self-expression"

Hope this helps.
 
1,389
13
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Thank you cape chef!!!

What a lovely description! This book seems like a must have!!

Thanks!

What is this file it mentions? :eek:
 
143
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Joined Apr 13, 2003
hey there athenus,,, here is a bulk recipie that can easily be be made in smaller batches.

4 lb. butter
3.5 lb flour
6 lg onions
6 green bellpeppers
3 lb oakra sliced thinly
2 bunches celery
1 cup fresh chopped garlic
3 bunches parsley
6 small bunches green onion
8 gallons chik stock
1 galon oysters
8 lb shrimp
4 lb crawfish(louisiana pref. but spanish will do)
4 lb andoullie or smoked sausage(some purists refuse to put sausage in seafood gumbo but it makes all the difference)

red pepper flakes,bay leaves,black pepper,garlic powder,tabasco,gumbo file(ground sasafrass root) dry thyme and dry basil

cut mirepoix, then begin roux, cook on med heat until dark brown and mealy, add half of mirepoix and let cool. in lg pot sautee rest of veg, and add oakra, to this add all of your seasonings(including the file). add one pound crawfish and two pounds shrimp. add water and bring to boil. cut sausage and brown really well, drain grease and add to pot. once boiling begins add remaining seafood once boil is attained again add roux slowly until desired thickness is achieved( i like mine kind of thin, some make it more of a stew. simmer for about twenty minutes and season to taste. good luck and let us know how it comes out
 
4,508
32
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Athenaues,

From the same book

"File' Old fashioned Creole cooks use file' to flavor gumbos only in the wintertime,though Cajuns tend to dig in whatever the time of year.Each time a member of either group turns to the tender leaves of the sassafras tree,he is nodding just a bit to the Chowtaw Indians.Long before the white man came to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain,the indians were gathering,drying,and grinding sassafras leaves till they became pungent powder.
Since it turns stringy if allowed to boil,File' should be added to gumbo only after it is removed from the fire.In many households,it is placed on the table for distribution by diners themselves.And it should never be used in gumbo with okra,unless you intend the filal product to patch holes in sheetrock.
File' can be made easily enough once you track down some sassafras leaves-and even better if a few bay leaves are pounded up to.Commercial file' is sold by nearly every grocery store in south Louisiana,at gourmet shops elsewhere,and by several nationwide mail order houses"

Arnoud's Creole Cookbook by John DeMers with preface by Archie Casbarian

Published by Siman and Shuster 1988
 
1,389
13
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Ah thank you very much for all the info.

Cajun foof is terra incognita for me :)

I must spend some time exploring this fascinating chapter in cooking.
 
3,853
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Joined May 26, 2001
Gumbo is like cassoulet, or paella, or many other regional foods: everyone who makes it makes it a little differently, and they all will fight to the death to defend theirs as the "Authentic" version. So what does that mean for us outsiders?




Lots and lots of delicious versions to try! :D :D


But I would like to make one serious point: New Orleans food is more likely to be somewhat more upper-middle-class Creole (a mix of French and Spanish influences, with some African influence as well), whereas Cajun food is more country-style, living-off-the-land. There is a very definite class distinction in the more traditional versions of each.
 
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Joined Jan 29, 2000
We are going for a little holiday in New Orleans at the end of the month. If someone would recommend Good Restaurants; it would be appreciated. I realise there hundreds (with the best food) but it would be nice to get personal opinions from this group. Thanks
 
407
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Joined Jan 24, 2003
Rita & Athenaus,

I would refer you to Soussweets for all matters Cajun but hes already posted.

He & his brother do some real good stuff & scotts always genial enough to help yall,
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
4,509
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
Gumbo is a soup, though it can be as thick and as chunky as a stew, depending on who makes it. Gumbo comes from an African word meaning "okra" which was traditionally always added to the soup. Nowadays it can be finished with either okra or file (though according to tradition never both). It is one of those dishes where everyone has an opinion about what constitutes "traditional" gumbo and there are a few variations that require certain items be added, though almost everyone will agree that the most important step in a great gumbo is making the roux. We are not talking your typical blonde or light brown roux, but a roux that has been simmered and stirred for hours until it is a deep, dark reddish brown, just a shade or two lighter than black coffee. I'm not talking burnt, but a deep rich, nutty roux, that lies just this side of burnt. A roux that you loved over and slaved over for hours. You screw up this step and your gumbo will, at it's best, be good, at it's worst, bitter and burnt tasting. But get this step right and you are on your way to, what I think, is one of the greatest dishes of the Americas.

Now it all becomes a matter of taste. The way I make mine is this: After making the roux, in a separate pot I render sliced andouille sausage (cajun andouille, not the french stuff) with a little extra added oil. When it is nice and crispy and has turned the extra oil reddish, I add the "holy trinity" of cajun cuisine (onions, celery and peppers, I use red peppers). I usually also add some jalapeno (not traditionally but I like it). I cook this down with the andouille until starting to caramelize. I then add some diced chicken, stir for a few minutes and then deglaze with some white wine. At this point I add the stock, preferably 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 shellfish or lobster stock. I bring this to a simmer and then start adding the roux. It takes a lot that brown roux to thicken as you cooked out most of the starch. That's ok, just a lot. It is as much a flavoring agent as it is a thickening agent at this point. I also add a healthy dose of worchestershire and Crystal hot sauce, also dried thyme (yes, dried, I like the flavor it gives to this dish better than fresh). I simmer and stir for about 30 minutes (keep stirring, this roux really wants to burn!!). Finally I throw in crawfish tails (or shirmp) and maybe a few oysters. Cook for 3-4 minutes then add sliced okra. At this point, do not allow to boil again or the okra will cause the gumbo to become stringy. Enjoy over white rice with a loaf of crusty french bread.
 
407
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Joined Jan 24, 2003
Pete, would you not add the rice to the pot
Ive not been able to obtain file over here
its very much like paella
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
4,509
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
No, you would never add rice to the pot. If it is served with rice (which it usually is) then it is ladelled over a mound of rice in the bowl or topped with a few spoonfuls of rice.

As for file, if you can't find it then just use okra instead.
 
143
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Joined Apr 13, 2003
this is my kind of post. mike,, you eat gumbo in a bowl with a heaping scoop of white rice,,, or if you are a true coona s s unlike myself then you eat it with potato salad( nasty!!!!) i just read my post and realized i said file was sasafrass root-----i think i had ginger on the mind! its nice to see that my fellow comrades are so well versed in true cajun cuisine, for i have been sereved some really nasty things in "cajun" restaurants before. on my last trip to california i ordered a cup of gumbo and it was made with a white roux,,, quite foul as you can imagine. i recomend to anyone to try duck in their gumbo(either confit or simply sliced breast) quite delicious.
 
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Joined Jan 29, 2000
Very interesting topic for me. I've always wanted to go to New Orleans to taste their famous Gumbo etc etc etc.
We are going 2 couples to celebrate our 40th Wedding anniversary; we wanted to do something Special and this is the place we chose; we will be there 5 nights.
I've made an extensive list of everything I read here. I know the food will be great; nothing like that up here in the north and I fully intend to try as much as I possibly can.
If anyone wants to include anything else that is a ''must" please let me know. I've always wanted to see the Mississippi, the French Quarters, Bourbon St. the Bayous.
It's something you dream about and soon I will be living it...very excited! :chef: :bounce:
 
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Joined Oct 27, 1999
I'm not sure if it is still there, but one of my favorite places in New Orleans was the Gumbo Shop. The soups were fantastic -- and reasonable too. To avoid the long lines, you can get a take-out and eat it on a bench if the weather is nice. Mmmm ... Some of the most famous restaurants were awful. ... I have found that one of the best ways to find current information about good places to eat (since quality of food changes when chefs leave) is to ask local inhabitants for their recommendations after your arrival. Have fun!
 
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Joined Jan 29, 2000
Thank you for your reply Brook
We are there 5 nights.

Hoping to get into
Peristyle, Brightsens, Galatoires, Acme Oyster House,
Jacques-Imos, Ugleischs, Central Grocery, Mother's.

It looks as if we will be eating steady but I do want to go on tours and wondering if they have an Acadiana Tour where you can hear the French Cajuns from Canada from way back and taste their food.


;)
 

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