Gumbo is one of those dishes that is both extremely flexible and extremely tasty. There are three main types of gumbo: Gumbos made with roux (a flour and oil mixture cooked together to add richness, color and flavor), gumbos made with okra and gumbos with filé (typically considered cajun). The recipe I am posting uses both a roux and okra, most people think you need to use one gumbo key ingredient; but I like the way it tastes together. You can leave out the okra if you find it slimy or leave out the roux… the wonderful thing is a gumbo is tolerant of additions AND subtractions.
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 3 toes of garlic, diced
- 1 stick butter
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 lb. chopped okra (you can use frozen, but fresh is best)
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomato (or 3 roma tomatoes, diced)
- 8 cups vegetable, chicken, or seafood broth (or 12 cups water, the broth will taste richer; I usually use a combination of chicken stock, vegetable broth or sometimes some shrimp bouillon bloomed in boiling water, it depends on my mood and my cabinets)
- Creole seasoning to taste (I use 2 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon crab boil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
- black pepper to taste
- Kosher salt to taste
- 4 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
for meat eaters: add 1 lb. chicken cut up and 1 lb. smoked sausage
for a seafood gumbo: add 1 lb. shrimp and 1 lb crab (you may want to substitute fish stock or shrimp stock for the vegetable broth)
First, you start with a roux… melt the butter in a stock pot and add flour. Cook until dark, you must babysit this so it doesn’t burn. Constantly stir the roux until it looks about the color of peanut butter (you can cook it longer for a richer taste, all the way to the color of chocolate). If it burns (even a little bit), you MUST start over. If you are using chicken, you may dredge the chicken in flour, fry that up first, set aside and start your roux along with the chicken drippings.
Add your onions, celery, okra and bell pepper to the roux, cook until vegetables are tender and the slime is cooked out of the okra. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
In a separate pot, fry the can of tomato paste in a little olive oil. You want to stir it until you achieve a mahogany color. Put browned tomato paste in pot with gumbo ingredients.
Add your sausage and cooked chicken now. For seafood gumbo, hold off until the last 2 minutes or so of cooking, overcooked seafood is nasty. Add broth/water and seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Now is when you want to test your seasonings. I like mine hot and spicy… I use a lot of Creole seasoning and black pepper. Cook mixture for about 30 minutes. Serve in bowls over 1/2 cup of hot white rice per serving. Serves 6-8.