Just a reminder – One can still enter into the giveaway here!
Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
Creating gumbo felt like a creation of love for loved ones. You spend time chopping, dicing, prepping the ingredients, caramelizing the onions, making the roux, stirring the trinity in, cooking the okra to remove the ‘strings’, and pouring the rest of the ingredients in and wait till it all molds into the final delicious product. I like one pot meals, throw things together leave it be (sort of) and at the end of a couple of hours, pour it over rice and you have a delicious meal. I found gumbo’s flavour to be in a class of its own, granted I haven’t really explored Cajun/Creole cooking before, but it was unlike anything I have ever tasted before. It’s definitely not for the beginner cook, but if you want to challenge yourself dig right in.
I was wary of this soup because of the roux, I knew the roux could be catastrophic to the end result, I just didn’t know how disastrous it would really be. A traditional roux that gives the max ‘gumbo like flavour’ is made from equal parts of oil to flour and must be stirred from 15 minutes to 60 minutes depending on how dark one would like their roux. The darker the colour, the more intense flavour it is. One Darking Cook believed she didn’t like the flavour of her gumbo due to roux being almost black when she mixed all the ingredients in. A roux is critical, if it burns within that half an hour of stirring, it needs to be tossed and start over because that ‘burnt’ flavour will be a lingering taste in ones gumbo. But all I can say at this part is to be careful, don’t stir to hard or get cocky that everything is going to turn out all right, or you will end up like my sous chef, who stirred a bit too vigorously and splashed burning hot oil on two of his fingers, resulting in a second degree burn. Not fun.
Another thing I like about one pot meals like a ‘stew’ is the ability to throw whatever you want into the pot, let it simmer and go. It’s a dish where you start with good ingredients and the basic of a roux/trinity (bell pepper, celery, onion) and add anything else you want on top. My kind of cooking. I don’t have a recipe for this dish, simply because I didn’t follow a recipe. I didn’t even know what kind of gumbo I wanted to create until walking through the grocery store a package of chorizo caught my eye and little packets of shrimp. Creating fresh stock was the one thing I knew for sure before attempting this challenge. (Note – My initial idea coming out of the grocery store was a chorizo shrimp gumbo, but I had leftover chicken from the stock.) With a little bit of knowledge through photos, a video, and glancing through the given recipes – the gumbo was chunky, deliciously smoky, with a hint of spice.