Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nana's gumbo...

I guess to be accurate this isn't really her recipe. But she's the one who inspired me to try making it. I've never had Nana's gumbo (and she's actually not my Nana) but she is a great cook and is from Louisiana. Her family raves about her gumbo, so I tried to extract a recipe from her. This is what I got:

"Make your roux. Let it cook most of the day - after a while it'll get to where it won't burn. Add your chicken. That's pretty much it."

While I'm sure some Cajun cooks would have done just fine with that, I needed a good hour on the internet researching the various school of thought on how to make the best roux, whether to even use a roux or if you should take the file powder or okra route, and all the bijillion variations to put and not put in your gumbo. Basically, gumbo consists strong stock, meat and/or shellfish, a thickener (I chose roux), and the vegetable "holy trinity" of celery, bell peppers and onion. Gumbo is traditionally served over rice, but I like my rice mixed in, more like a stew.

This recipe below is what I came up with. Let the bowls serve as proof. Nana's gumbo is pretty darn good...even if it did take me about eight hours to make.

Making the stock the day before

Nana'a gumbo
Makes 8-10 servings

Roux (1/2 cup flour + 1/2 cup oil)
1 lg chicken, cooked and pulled off bone
2 smoked sausages, sliced
2 chopped onions
1 chopped green pepper
3 ribs celery, chopped
5 cups warm chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white rice
Creole seasoning
Bay leaf

Roux, aka Cajun napalm. Now that's the tricky part. I'll direct you to some good sites for reading up on it. Photos of my roux-making are below.

Gumbo City's roux
Gumbo du Monde - scroll down to 'For the roux'
How to make roux

Flour and oil on med-high heat after a few minutes.
10 minutes
25 minutes
45 minutes
About an hour

Now that your roux is made, the hard part is over!

While the roux is still hot, sauté the onions, bell pepper and celery until soft and fragrant. Should start smelling really good right about now. Add 1/2 cup warmed chicken stock and stir until well-mixed. Keep adding slowly by 1/2cups until the roux is the consistency of thin pudding.

Carefully pour the roux mixture into a large saucepan and stir in remaining stock. Add the chicken and sausage. Add the bay leaves and Creole seasoning (start with 1 tsp) to taste and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for about 45 minutes.

Serve over hot rice.

No comments: