I finally got to cook my gumbo that I’ve been craving for awhile. We recently got a nice cool front here in Nashville that it was a must for me to break out the stock pot and whip up that good Creole gumbo. Let me tell ya’ll that it is a tradition where I’m from in south Louisiana to cook a pot of gumbo for the first “cool front”, as we call it, to kick off the fall season for cool weather. Of course, what we consider a cool front in the south is I’m sure completely different from what east coasters and northerners what consider cold weather. The cool fronts for cooler weather in south Louisiana is usually high in the 50’s during the day and low 40’s in the evenings and late nights. Although, here in Nashville the cool fronts vary in temperatures throughout October, November and December compared to what they average in south Louisiana which can sometimes become cooler. All I know was, it was time to make that gumbo!
I have so many memories from my childhood to adulthood of eating this delicious soup with family that it holds so much representation of my culture and Louisiana. The locals in Louisiana will either say Creole gumbo or Cajun gumbo but this is basically derived from either the Creole culture or Cajun culture. You can make gumbo however you want rather it is seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, or a file gumbo the great thing is making it what you have a taste for. I make my gumbo because of my Creole background on my paternal side of the family to how I learned it from observing my aunts, uncles and older cousins. Of course, I had to also learn how to cook it on my own because just like with any dish you have to practice until you get it right. I will say that my cooking skills for gumbo is getting better each time. Also, let me tell ya’ll that it is a must in my family that you LEARN how to cook a good Creole gumbo. If not, then you basically can’t cook very well, especially if that roux isn’t right.
When I talk, read or see on food cooking shows is that they refer to most often is making the roux is the most tricky part about cooking a gumbo. I will definitely attest to having a good roux consistency is the key element of perfecting a gumbo. Making your roux in a good pot either a cast iron pot, dutch oven pot or a tall stock pot will definitely work best. Also, it will not scortch the roux so easily since the pot can contain temperature heat more efficiently. More on that later..
I keep it simple with my meats by using boneless chicken (that I cut into pieces), smoked sausage and if I have it on hand andouille sausage, but this is just my preference. You can add whatever meat choice you choose such as chicken drumsticks, shredded chicken, wild game meat and of course any type of sausage you choose.
Add your seasoned meat in the pot first to let them brown on both sides and add 1/2 cup of water or broth so your meats won’t dry out in the pot. Adding liquid will also enhance the flavor in the pot, cover it to allow the meat to simmer for five minutes on medium-low. Once the meats start browning again, take them out of the pot and set aside.
Now that you have browned your meats and put them aside from the pot, we can go back to the roux part. Their are different types of roux based on the type of color you desire while the best oil to use is either vegetable or canola. However, I would advise not to use any type of olive oil for making a roux since it is very thin and will cause it to burn easily. That’s coming from a previous experience of making an olive oil based roux. If you burn the roux, you will need to get rid of it quickly and start all over again. A burnt roux is not what you want, and you will end up with a burnt smelling kitchen and a burnt tasting gumbo, yucky.
Turn the heat down to low once the pot gets hot because we don’t want a burnt roux. I usually will slowly add more oil and flour depending on how much roux I want and whisk it. Scraping all that meat flavor from the bottom and blending it with your roux. I have a couple of secrets to share since I’m all about infusing flavor is to add a little butter or margarine and blending in some water to the roux. The butter is for a rich flavor and the water is to prevent the roux from scorching. Once you get the color and consistency you desire then add your chopped onions, chopped celery, chopped green peppers and chopped garlic which is referred to in Louisiana as the Holy Trinity.
As you can see in the above picture that your roux will pretty much look like that with the Holy Trinity adding to the consistency. That’s exactly what I aim for with my roux, and you can see all of the brown bits in the bottom of the pot from the meats. This is when I get excited to put it all together in one pot.
Now, you can add your stock or broth to the roux mixture while the amount you add can vary on how much gumbo you want to make. Honestly, I never really measure the amount when I pour the broth because I view it as a large gumbo will contain 8 to 10-cups. While a medium size stock pot or dutch oven pot of gumbo can be between 6-8 cups of broth.
Next step is to cover pot and turn to medium for boiling and be careful that the temperature does not get too high while covered because it will boil over. Once gumbo is boiling, turn down to low, add your meats or okra (if you choose), stir well and re-cover pot to let the roux thickens. This is optional but if there is any oil on top of gumbo, skim it off with a slotted spoon. Recover and let cook on low again for a couple of hours until gumbo has thicken. Also, this would be a good time to add your seafood (shrimp and crabs).
Once the roux has worked its magic in your lovely stock pot it is ready to be turned off, and ready to be enjoyed over rice by your family and friends. Just a suggestion, that the proper way to serve gumbo is to put one or two small scoops of rice in your bowl and then pour gumbo over it. Garnish with green onions and enjoy!
Creole Gumbo Ingredients:
- Smoked Sausage (chopped Beef, Pork, Kielbasa or Turkey)
- Andouille sausage (chopped) – optional
- 3 to 4 Boneless chicken (chopped)
- Okra, chopped – optional
- 1-pound of shrimp (peeled & deveined)
- Holy Trinity (chopped onions, celery and bell peppers)
- Vegetable or Canola oil
- 1 carton of chicken, vegetable or beef broth
- Salt and Pepper or Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
- Dash of garlic powder
- Dash of onion powder
- Dash of basil leaves
- 2-cups cooked rice
- Green onions, garnish
Vanessa, The Creole Flamingo