I started a tradition for “my” family about 10 years ago for Xmas..I always cook a pot of Gumbo. I was taught years ago by helping another family member from Shreveport, La how to fix it. I suppose our gumbo fits in the Seafood Gumbo category since we must have crab and shrimp. Now, whenever I visit them in Atlanta or they visit me – I have to cook gumbo.
In honor of my daughters recent move to Illinois and since the weather was still chilly even though it is Spring – I decided to fix Gumbo since she was not here for Xmas. It’s pretty simple – at least to me and does not take a lot of time. This one does not fall in my efficient category – but it can be prepared during the work day with a lil help from other family members.
The first lesson I learned about anything that is cooked “creole” style, you always had to have a few ingredients – bell pepper, celery, onions and garlic. The time saver here is my daughter is great for cutting that up. It is added toward the end of this process, so I can start cooking, continue to work while she does the cutting up.
Seafood Gumbo Ingredients
Chicken – I use chicken wings, or wingets
Shrimp – at least medium to large
Crab – depends on your budget on the size of the crab – but I try to get claws, and large legs ( I was taught to use blue crab live). I choose the Alaskan crab legs and I cut them up before I put in the pot to hopefully have more than enough for everyone. I may eat a few as long as they are easy to crack and I can easily get to the meat – I leave the cracking and digging to others.
Gumbo File seasoning, flour, oil, bay leaves and any other seasoning you like.
I put the chicken in the main pot that all of the ingredients will be in eventually and I fill it with more than enough water. Cook the chicken. I put all of my normal seasonings in the pot and cook until just before the chicken is falling off of the bone. You want to make sure there is enough water to handle all of the other meat that you will add later.
I pretty much use any sausage that I have and brown all of it in a seperate pan. I always try to have andouille sausage for my gumbo if I can find it – remember it is spicy. Once it is brown and the chicken is done, I drain the sausage and put it in the pot with the chicken and turn everything off. I do not pour the pan with the sausage into the pot because I do not want it to be greasy – Drain the sausage first. If you cook the sausage in the same pot as the chicken – it is guaranteed to be greasy.
This is the most important part of the gumbo and it is the most time consuming – it’s the Roux.
To fix roux – you want to have an even amount of flour and oil. Depending on the size of the pot – if it’s a big pot – you can be safe with 1 cup of each. Using a cast iron (black skillet) pour in the oil and add the flour. On a medium to medium high eat – mix the flour and oil together making sure there are no lumps and stir constantly. We use a metal pancake spatula with the holes in it and go back and forth until the roux is a deep brown – slowly. We hold the spatula up and go back and forth not in a stirring direction but in a way the keeps the flour from settling on the bottom of the pan and does not burn. It is critical to do this to keep it from burning. If it is getting brown fast – your fire is too high. My daughter loves this part and I am just fine with letting her.
Once the roux is dark – add the bell pepper, celery, onion and garlic. Turn of the pan and stir it in for about 5 minutes. While that is being stirred, turn the pot with the chicken and sausage on almost to a boil. Add the mixture from the skillet into the main pot and stir as you are adding it in. Reduce the heat to about medium and stirring occasionally. After about 5-10 minutes, add your crab, cook for about 5 minutes and add the shrimp. Let that cook for about 5 minutes and it’s done. Turn the pot off so that you are not overcooking the shrimp.
I have cooked rice on the side and the gumbo file. We put the file on top of our gumbo in the bowl. I will also add a little bit of the file to the pot of chicken while I cook it. I warm the french bread up and serve that with the gumbo as well. It’s great for dipping into the sauce – Yummy.
A few of our California friends were mad that I was cooking this and they weren’t around…I wish I could have shipped them some. Maybe that will be a future business – 🙂
Well – let me know if you fix this how it turns out – till next time……