It has been so cold here in Pennsylvania, with lows in the 30’s and highs in the 50’s, and the wind blowing at around 30 mph, so I decided to make it a Gumbo Day. Gumbo Day for me means I get up around 8 a.m., and start chopping the veggies. The chopping is the hardest and most time consuming part of making gumbo. Here is a photo of most of the ingredients laid out on the counter, ready for me to get started. The things missing are the shrimp, smoked sausage, ham, and rice. Oh, you will see a cookbook in the photo with the veggies. Don’t worry, it is used only as a guideline, to remind me what to do and when. If you know anyone who makes gumbo, you will know that each cook puts in her pot whatever she has on hand that day. Some people put chicken in their gumbo, but I personally think that ruins the whole thing. If you are someone who just has to have a recipe, the book is “The Frugal Gourmet” by Jeff Smith. Mine was printed in 1990, but it may still be on the market.
Any good Gumbo starts out with the Cajun “holy trinity” of chopped celery, onions and bell pepper. Those three vegetables are the beginning of most any dish Cajun or Creole. Today I added a poblano pepper, a couple jalapenos, and about half a bulb of garlic. I love garlic, the more, the better. After chopping everything up, sauté in a large pot like a Dutch oven or stockpot in some olive oil for about 20 minutes or so. This is when your kitchen will really start to smell GOOD!
Meanwhile, in another pan, on low heat, brown some gluten free flour in some more olive oil until the flour turns a nice brown color. This is the roux. If it gets too dark, or burns, you will have to start over. Making the roux is a slow process, but it will be well worthwhile to do it right. When the roux is that beautiful brown, add the “meat” from a 16 oz can of tomatoes that has been drained. I usually give them a little squeeze to get out a little more of the juice. Stir well after you add the tomatoes, as the mixture will make a thick paste, sort of like lumpy gravy. When it looks like that, this is the time to add some basil, thyme, parsley, black pepper, (and red pepper if you dare), a bay leave, and a little bit of salt. Stir well and remove from heat, and set aside for a bit.
While the veggies are cooking down, heat up two cups of water in the microwave. Add three or four cubes of Shrimp Bouillon, and stir like crazy to dissolve all of the bouillon grains. Pour this mixture into the Dutch oven with the veggies. Add a total of three quarts of water to the pot. Stir well, then get about two cups of the liquid out of the pot, and add it to the gravy mixture in the other pan. Stir to combine the liquid into the gravy, then add the whole pan of gravy to the Dutch oven. Add a dash of tobasco sauce and a large dash of Worchestershire sauce to the pot.
Usually I add a pound of sliced okra, but I did not have any today. I did have a bunch of fresh mustard greens, so I chopped them up and added them in, along with about a cup of chopped ham and a cup of diced smoked sausage. Put the lid on and cook for several hours.
About twenty minutes before serving time, add a pound of peeled, deveined shrimp, a pound of peeled crawfish, and two cups of diced smoked sausage. Cover and simmer on low for fifteen minutes, then turn off the heat. Serve over rice with tabasco sauce and red pepper for those who just have to have the extra hot. Yummy!
And this, folks, is what it is all about: My sweet husband enjoying a big bowl of Gumbo and Rice, with a big grin on his face. Don’t you just love it?