Gumbo. The name alone invokes the bayous of Louisiana, steamy and swampy. Or maybe the wild debauchery of Bourbon St. in the French Quarter of New Orleans. For me it means memories of family sitting around the dinner table with big bowls of chicken, sausage, shrimp and crab leg stuffed gumbo. The taste of okra and file powder subtle in the finish.
This gumbo is much simpler, but still packed with the intense flavors of slow smoked pork and sweet langostino tails. When it comes to gumbo there are purists who will insist that for a dish to be called gumbo it must be made only a certain way. But there are many kinds of gumbo, even regional styles of gumbo. My gumbo always includes the trinity, which is onion, bell pepper and celery.
It also always includes file powder, or ground sassafras leaves. Sometimes I use okra, sometimes I don’t. Depends on my mood.
A brown roux is needed to really give the gumbo a deeply rich flavor. If you have never made a roux, it is not something you can put on and walk away from. You need to stir almost constantly, or the roux may burn, which will cause your entire gumbo to taste burnt. The darker a roux, the less thickening power there is, so keep that in mind when using roux to thicken a soup or stew. Here are a few visual clues to look for while cooking your roux.
Roux begins with equal parts fat and flour. In this case I use butter.
When the roux has only cooked for a short time the color will be a light tan and is called a blonde roux.
I like to cook my roux until it is the color of milk chocolate.
The trinity is cooked in the roux, instead of being sauteed in oil.
While participating in Charcutepalooza I made some tasso ham,which is a cured, heavily spiced piece of pork butt that is then hot smoked until it is cooked. It’s origins lie in Cajun cooking. The resulting meat is then used to flavor other dishes such as jambalaya, beans, stews and many other dishes.
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups yellow onion, small dice
- 2 cups d red bell peppers, small dice
- 1 1/2 cups celery, small dice
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 – 2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound tasso ham, diced
- 12 ounces frozen langostino tails
- 2 teaspoons file powder
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 1 hour Total time: 1 hour 15 mins Yield: 8-10 servings