Gumbo is like meatloaf. Everybody prefers mama’s unless mama doesn’t make it. Like mine. So I had to figure it out myself.
Disclaimer: I’m not Cajun nor do I claim to be an expert in their cuisine although I did honeymoon with my insurance man in New Orleans. Does that count? Actually, I don’t remember much about the food on that trip so I doubt it.
I first ate gumbo at my brother-in-law’s (Phil) house years ago. He was adamant about the absence of tomatoes in his recipe. I ended up loving his gumbo and his no-tomato policy so I do the same.
Regarding okra in gumbo: We love it but the Cajun police will not arrest you if you leave it out.
Making roux (the characteristic dark brown flour and fat mixture) in the microwave is not the traditional way but it works and requires much less oil than on top of the stove. I use a 2-quart Pyrex batter bowl because it can withstand the heat. WARNING: Do not use untempered glass or a plastic container for this method. Fat and flour get extremely hot and could melt or break your dish.
- 1-1/2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup flour
- 6 cups warm chicken broth (I boil the bones from a Rotisserie chicken)
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2-3 dashes Hot Pepper Sauce (I like Frank’s)
- Small package of frozen,sliced okra (thawed) or 1 -2 cups sliced fresh okra
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 pound smoked sausage
- 1 pound cooked chicken meat, diced (I use a Rotisserie chicken, no skin)
- Spray large heavy-duty Dutch oven with a light coating of vegetable oil and saute onions, pepper and celery. Cover to sweat and cook vegetables while completing step two.
- Stir oil and flour together in microwave-safe bowl. A Pyrex 2-quart batter bowl works perfectly. Place in microwave and cook on HIGH for 8-10 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon after every minute for the first 5 minutes and about every 45 seconds thereafter. Stir and mash flour against the side to be sure mixture is the same color throughout before returning to the oven. (If you see black specks, it has burned and needs to be thrown out. Start over again being careful not to overcook by stirring frequently and thoroughly.) Cook until oil and flour mixture is the color of chocolate. Some people like it even darker…not me.
- Add roux to softened vegetables in Dutch oven. Stir warm broth and remaining seasonings into roux and vegetable mixture until roux is completely dissolved. Simmer 45-60 minutes. Add okra and chopped parsley. Cook another 10-15 minutes.
- While veggies simmer in step three, dice sausage in to medium size pieces. Saute in medium skillet until brown. (Helps to relieve sausage of some of its grease.) Drain.
- About 5 minutes before ready to serve, add sausage and chicken to pot and heat through. Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust seasonings. Spoon cooked, long-grain rice into a bowl and cover with gumbo. Serve with saltines or sliced and toasted Crusty French Bread or Crusty Round Bread