Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
I’ve never enjoyed gumbo, so I’d never attempted to make it before. But apparently I’ve not had authentic gumbo, because John Besh’s gumbo is incredible! We had a choice between making seafood gumbo or chicken and sausage gumbo, and since I can’t eat animals that look like what they are, I went with the chicken. I also don’t eat pork, so I used spicy turkey sausage instead.
I began the adventure by making the creole spice. I’m so glad I have a lot left over. This mixture will be great in stews and skillets.
Basic Creole Spices
From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Makes ½ cup
2 T celery salt
1 T sweet paprika
1 T coarse sea salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground allspice
Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.
I was intrigued by one main gumbo ingredient. Okra. I’d never actually eaten okra before, so the adventure into new territory continued!
Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo
Minimally adapted from My New Orleans:
The Cookbook, by John Besh
1 c canola oil
1 c gluten-free flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 T Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows)
2 lbs spicy turkey sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts Chicken Stock
2 bay leaves
2 c sliced okra, ½ -inch thick slices
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
4-6 c cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)
1. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
2. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.
3. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.
(There are NO pictures of the roux, because it never looked quite right. I don’t own a cast iron skillet, and I know that was a crucial part of the process.)
4. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
6. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
7. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
8. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
9. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
10. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
11. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.
I loved the Louisiana White Rice recipe. The olive oil and onions gave the rice a delicious, sweet creaminess.
Basic Louisiana White Rice
Adapted from My New Orleans:
The Cookbook, by John Besh
Servings: About 4 cups
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1½ c Louisiana White Rice (or another long-grain white rice)
3 c Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt
1. Put the oil and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.
Gumbo was a big success! And I’m glad we like it, because I didn’t notice the “serves 10-12” until I realized that the pots and pans I own were way too small to contain all of the ingredients! So we’ll be eating gumbo all week! Anyone want to come over for dinner???