Sunday, March 1, 2009

How to make Gumbo

So, since our little baby Gumbo is not making his appearance and everyone is anxious to see him, I thought I would provide a substitute Gumbo for your waiting pleasure.

To properly make Gumbo, first you start with a Roux.
I put: 1/2 c margarine and 1/2 c flour together in a pan.
You have to heat it on super low and stir it for about an hour.
If you burn it, then you have to start over.
Heat it until its the color of caramel and smells like popcorn.

Cook separately:
1 large onion minced
1 bell pepper minced
4 large close of garlic
1 piece of meaty bacon chopped up.

When it looks good and cooked (the onions are clear or almost clear) mix in the roux and cook a little bit more. Make sure all of the flavors have time to infuse themselves in each other.

Then add some stock. Its best to make stock well ahead of time and not use the kind that you can buy in the store, but its a labor of love in itself.

How to make Stock:
Save a carcass anytime you have it (post Thanksgiving, Christmas, Crawfish boil, Rotisserie Chicken), freeze it and then use it when you are ready to make stock.
take a chicken carcass, turkey carcass, or crawfish carcasses ( I think I used the tails only), and put them in a huge pot with a whole onion cut in half and maybe some other stuff (celery, garlic, carrots). fill the huge pot with water and boil it with no lid for about a million hours, until the water is at least half gone, has a nice color, and looks like stock. Towards the end, you can taste the stock and see how you like the flavor. It may need salt or some other flavors at this point (bay leaf, basil, whatever). But always wait until the end, cause then the flavor of the Carcass will have totally infused itself into the water and you will know how to enhance it and not make it worse (or too salty)
Let it cool. Take the bones out of it, saving any meat that has fallen off of the bones. I throw out the veg, but you can do what you want with that.
You can let it cool in the fridge and then skim the fat off of the top, but I find it makes a nice flavor to keep it in there, plus I've never had a bunch of fat from a bird or crawfish stock, maybe if you were boiling cow bones it would be really fatty...
Then I typically freeze it until I want to make Gumbo or some other soup. The best Gumbo I made was with Crawfish stock, yum yum yum. =)

Ok, now you have your Roux with Veg, and you need to add the stock, add almost as much as the pot allows, but leave room for....

Lagniappe (Lousiaianian for "a little something extra")
a bunch of chopped up: Chicken and/or Turkey
a bunch of chopped up: Andouille sausage.
a bunch of chopped up Veg: whatever you want or have lying around, whatever would be good in a soup (not lettuce).

The only thing to watch is to make sure that you chop the pieces small enough so they fit in the spoon. (it can be a big spoon)

Then you have to add Okra. Chop this up too.

For Gumbo to be Gumbo, the only thing it really needs is Okra. Okra is how Gumbo got its name, cause the vegetable that we call okra was called "gumbo" in Africa and whenever the bad guys stole all of the Africans and brought them to the Americas as slaves, the Africans brought along their delicious cooking and okra aka Gumbo. Then they started cooking with it and all of the leftover goodies in the house therefore inventing the dish we call Gumbo today.

So at this point, you should taste what you've been cooking. It could be perfectly delicious or it could be really bland. Never serve a bland Gumbo, ick.

Add Zateran's or Tony C's to the pot, add some salt, add some other delicious flavoring things.

Then taste it and see if you think its awesomely delicious, if it is, then eat up, if not, then keep adding.

Things to watch for that could ruin your gumbo (and almost any other dish with similar ingredients)
1. burning the roux and not starting over, you CANNOT burn the roux and still use it, you HAVE to start over, totally wash the pot and start from new ingredients.
2. mixing the roux into the stock (it will clump and become a pain).
3. over salting the pot before the end
4. over spicing the whole thing, only spice things at the very beginning when you are cooking the first batch of veg and then again at the very end after everything is added.
5. chopping the pieces too big so they don't fit on a spoon
6. not cooking the veg enough at the beginning, you've got to cook them good then, cause thats where the flavor comes from.

The best thing about Gumbo is that besides burning the roux and over salting the pot, its hard to do wrong. You can put almost anything you want in it. People have! Its a wonderful place for leftovers and whatever you've got laying around.

We call our baby Gumbo, because we knew that we had a good stock pot and some good ingredients to start with, but weren't really sure what the outcome would be, but were pretty sure it would be good. That's how Gumbo is. You add what you've got and what you end up with is wonderful no matter what you add. We're pretty sure our baby Gumbo will be the same way.


  1. HMMM,.... I'm eathing my lunch & now I want Gumbo too. Sounds delicious! Maybe we can enjoy some Gumbo together soon. I did not know Okra was called Gumbo, very interesting. See you soon! Love, Mom

  2. I've got a batch here that is frozen and waiting for you to come eat it!

  3. how are you keeping occupied today? Did it snow there last night?

  4. it snowed. i went to the library and played Dance Dance Revolution.