Gumbo

 “America, it has been observed, is not really a melting pot. It is actually a huge potluck dinner, in which platters of roasted chicken beckon beside casseroles of pasta, mounds of tortillas, stew pots of gumbo, and skillets filled with pilafs of every imaginable color.”
Author: Andrea Chesman

Gumbo 4

A wonderful roux aroma is just about the best smell for good things to come and while I am not slaving over a day long pot of gumbo, I think mine came out as hearty as I could make it for a Fat Tuesday dinner.   The best part is that I can slip oysters into my bowl since Michael hates just the thought of them…bad experience I guess, but on the other hand he did try two T&W roosters once, I said once!

At any rate, a bowl of gumbo was just the best thing for me as it was just a long tedious day of getting around…a good gumbo base to be stashed in the freezer for a quick dinner night adding shrimp, chicken, sausage or oysters to complete the dish.   I didn’t dwell on the ingredients too much and went with what I had in the way of peppers, onions etc.  Good basics and seasoned properly, the gumbo will be good if starting with a beautiful dark roux.

I hobbled out to the freezer and unfortunately did not come away with andouille, but I did have a lot of other smoked sausage links to add to the bubbling pot of goodness, a pint of oysters and lump crab meat what could be better?  So by stroke of midnight – on Ash Wednesday – I will have had another fine bowl Of NOLA to end Mardi Gras for this year.

Gumbo from gumbo pot

Crab and Oyster Gumbo adapted from NYT

For the roux:  1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound andouille  or smoked sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 celery ribs and the tender ribs of the heart with leaves, diced
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds and veins removed and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound sliced okra, about 1/2 inch
3 small fresh bay leaves (remove from pot when gumbo is done)

grated lemon zest
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
3 teaspoons Phillips seafood seasoning
3 tablespoons filé powder
1 cup white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
all of the clam juice from large can of clams or 4 cups
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 large heirloom tomatoes,large dice
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1 pint shucked oysters and their liquor
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Gumbo tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS
In a pot, stir the flour and oil until smooth. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the roux turns a rich brown color, 15 + minutes. Add the andouille, celery, onion, bell pepper, Habanero, garlic, okra, thyme, bay leaf, zest and half of the filé powder, cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Deglaze with white wine and reduce slightly (2 minutes).  Add the stock, clam juice, Worcestershire and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring.
Stir in the remaining filé powder and add the crab, oysters and their liquor. Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for 1 minute to just cook the oysters.  Serve over Chiqui’s Creole rice, sliced green onions and a side of hot sauce.  Sides to go with, a basket of French bread and a creole dressed salad.

Creole Boiled Rice – Chiqui Collier-I love this rice

1 quart of Boiling Water
1 Cup Uncle Ben’s Rice
4 Fresh Bay Leaves (If you have to use dried, do so, but damn….. the fresh are so much better!)
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (too much for me, maybe 1-1/2 teaspoons)
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter (Optional)

“Bring the water to a boil with the bay leaves. Add the salt. Add the rice; stir to make sure the rice doesn’t stick! Do not stir again! If you agitate the rice too much, it gets sticky! So give it a good stir, when it comes back to a boil, partially cover it. Cook for about 11 minutes, but taste it, don ‘t trust me! It should have some bite, but a crunch is bad! When finished, drain it, pluck out the bay leaves, if desired place it into a 400° degree oven with the butter patted on top of it; this helps dry the rice out.”