Monday, December 7, 2009

Without Okra is it still Gumbo? I say yes.

Traditional recipes for gumbo all include "Okra" but if I use it I effectively alienate 3/5 of my household to the point they won't touch it. What's a cook to do but omit something that offends a majority where possible.

My gumbo style is more of the "Creole" Gumbo in that it has a lighter roux and includes tomatoes. By omitting the okra everyone eats it. Celery is another bit that shouldn't be omitted as it is part of the trinity of onion/pepper/celery, but since it falls in the category of "okra" with my picky eaters I substitute in celery seed for the pop of flavor needed and there is no loss to those of us who really like gumbo with all the goodies.

Traditionally it is served over rice and eaten with a bowl. Please do so as you won't want to miss a bit of the wonderful sauce or "gravy" that comes with it.

Creole Gumbo

  • 1 lb smoked sausage - sliced
  • 1 lb chicken (I use de-boned thighs) in large dice
  • 2 lb raw shrimp
  • 1 T bacon grease or oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 t celery seed
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 T File' powder
  • 2 cups rice, cooked according to directions.

In large stock pot add bacon fat and sausage. Cook until browned. Remove with slotted spoon and cook the chicken in the remaining fat. Remove with slotted spoon.

Add the onion, green pepper, carrots, cayenne pepper and celery seed. Cook in remaining fat over medium-high heat. Stir often and scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook until onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add butter and flour. Stir constantly until the flour is dissolved and takes on a light brown color, about 3-5 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth and tomato sauce, stir until the flour mixture (roux) is completely incorporated and lump free. Return sausage and chicken to the pan. Bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Increase heat and add shrimp and file' powder. Stir constantly until shrimp are cooked and the gumbo is thickened about 5 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice.

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