While researching various recipes for a series on Cajun food… I kept seeing recipes for Gumbo. I haven’t had Gumbo in years… so I decided to make Gumbo. I read probably dozens of recipes… all similar… some missing what I consider key ingredients.
As one reviewer of a recipe put it… it’s not Gumbo unless you have meat (chicken), sausage, fish (usually shrimp)and okra…. along with, in my opinion, tomato, onions, and garlic … they are the “must haves” of Gumbo.
I made a quick list of ingredients I felt needed to be included.. and armed with that information I went on a hunt for a recipe…I found one that mostly fit the bill… a recipe by Paula Dean. I did, however, change her recipe to fit my own recollection of a great Gumbo.
The first thing to be changed was the amount of grease (oil and margarine… by the way.. I almost fainted when I saw she used margarine not butter)… this was no big surprise… she routinely uses way too much fat in her recipes…. to follow Paula’s recipes you’d have to have a cardiologist on speed dial.
The next thing.. which again.. surprised me.. her recipe lacked spices.. true Cajun food is not bland and has some spices..and this Gumbo version is Cajun… so I added my Cajun Spice Mix.
I also changed the kind of tomatoes I used.. she uses stewed tomatoes.. I used Hunts Petite Cut Tomatoes.. also she uses beef bouillon cubes and water… I used beef broth… I saw no reason to use the bouillon in place of broth or stock… and bouillon, while not in significant amounts, has MSG in them (at least most brands), which I prefer to avoid if at all possible.
I also changed some of the cooking steps… some just didn’t make sense… namely when to add thickener (flour aka roux) and how to add it in… I think my method is easier and produces a better flavor since I cook the onions and garlic with the meats, rather than adding them after a roux is made. I make the roux and resulting thick sauce separately and then add it to the pot.
So with that all said… let’s get to making a great Gumbo.
I bought cooked frozen shrimp, all I had to do was remove the tails…
I used a smoked beef sausage from Hillshire Farms.. you can use andouille sausage.. if you do use the andouille, then omit the spices and spice toward the end to your taste.
You can omit the spice if you prefer… the 1 tablespoon of my Cajun Spice Blend gives it a little kick.. not too much though… or you can use a commercially made Cajun Spice Blend that you like and use whatever quantity is to your tastes.
Use both the white and green parts of the green onion.
I served this with white rice and cornbread.
This recipe will easily feed 4-6 (6 if you serve white rice and cornbread with it).
We loved this dish… I hope you do too!
All you need:
2 thick boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 smoked sausage, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, finely diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cups of beef broth or stock, divided
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 can Hunts Petite Cut Tomatoes (do not drain)
1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Blend (my recipe)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups frozen sliced okra
½ pound cooked shrimp, deveined and tails removed
¼ cup green onion, sliced
All you need to do:
Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and heat over medium high heat.
Add the chicken chunks and sausage slices, stirring frequently. Cook until the meats start to brown. Remove about 1 tablespoon of the sausage grease that has accumulated in the pot and set it aside.
Add the onions, garlic, celery and green pepper, stirring frequently. Cook until the onions soften (about 3 minutes).
Add the Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes.
Add 3 cups of the beef broth or stock. Heat until it begins to boil, then reduce heat to medium.
Add the Cajun spice and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sausage grease you reserved earlier.
Add the flour and stir well with a cooking spoon. Cook for about 2 minutes (to cook off the flour taste).
Slowly add the remaining beef broth or stock, whisking constantly until you have a thick smooth “sauce”…
Add the “sauce” to the large pot stirring to completely incorporate it into the pot.
Add the okra and parsley, stir well.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring periodically.
Add the shrimp and green onions. Lower the heat to low and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Serve hot in bowls with white rice.
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