Monday, March 15, 2010

John’s Gumbo

John Hanks made this for the family the week before Ama B died.  He and Glenda had asked if they could do anything, and I said to send us some of their incredibly good food.  This was the result--sooo rich and satisfying--unbelievably good. 
(I have retained John's notes on the recipe.)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A couple of chopped yellow onions, about 1 & ½ or 2 cups.
  • Two or three ribs of chopped celery, about a cup or so.
  • One chopped green bell peppers, about a cup.
  • 1 pound hot smoked andouille sausage cut  into 1/2-inch slices.  They usually have fresh andoullie at the Fresh Market. If you get it fresh you will need to cook it before adding it to the gumbo.  I usually grill it.  The packaged precooked andoullie at Kroger is also good.  If you can’t find it you can also use smoked kielbasa.
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of smoked ham cubed.  The pre-packaged cubed cooked ham at Kroger is not as tasty as smoked ham but is ok.
  • You can also get some seafood (shrimp, etc.) if you like.  We are allergic so we don’t.
  • Salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon. I usually go easy on the salt at first because it boils down and becomes saltier as the water evaporates. You can always add more at the end.
  • Cayenne. 1/4 teaspoon is pretty mild.  If adding more be careful and add it in small amounts and test it between each addition because it doesn’t take much to make it too spicy.  I’ve found that more than a teaspoon is too much heat for my taste.
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 bay leaves (very important ingredient)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock with all the chicken meat removed. recipe below
  • A couple tablespoons fresh chopped parsley. (Italian of course)
  • A small bunch of chopped green onions.
  • File powder
  • Hot Sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot but any good Louisiana Hot Sauce will do).
  • Cooked long-grain white rice.  I sometimes use Jasmine rice instead.  I make quite a lot for leftovers.
(You can also add more or less vegetables or meat.  I usually add more of both for heartier Gumbo)
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and stir in the flour. Stir slowly and constantly along the bottom of the pan for 25 to 30 minutes, I’ve found that a flat edged wooden spoon works best.  You may want to get someone to help with the stirring, 30 minutes is a long time and I have found it difficult to have a glass of wine or a beer if you are stirring all the time J Make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. The roux should be smooth in the end, not grainy.  If you heat the Roux too fast it will burn. If you mess it up it’s better to just start over otherwise it ruins the entire dish.  The darker the roux the richer the taste but the less thickening power it has.  I like my gumbo thinner and I do love the richer taste so I tend to make mine pretty dark. You can always do the corn starch in cold water trick to thicken it up at the end if you like.
Add the chopped onions, celery, and bell peppers and stir for about 6-8 minutes. The roux will get darker as you add the vegetables.  Add the sausage, ham, salt, cayenne, pepper, and bay leaves. Cook and stir until heated through.
Add the chicken stock to the roux mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Add the chicken (and seafood if you like) near the end and cook just until seafood is done and the chicken is heated through. About 8 or 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in parsley and green onions. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with file powder and/or hot sauce.  Add a scoop of rice in the middle and enjoy.

Basic Chicken stock:
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 head garlic, cut in 1/2 horizontally
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Parsley stems
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 quarts water

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, skimming the surface occasionally to remove any foam that forms on the surface.
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones and vegetables.  Refrigerate overnight if possible. It makes it easier to skim some of the fat that forms on the surface. This should make about 3 quarts of stock and 3 cups of cooked chicken meat.

1 comment:

  1. ellen Beebe4:54 AM

    I made this last week and it was really yummy. I used Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock instead of making my own. Not quite as thick as John's, but really good. We threw some frozen shrimp in also.