- a blog about food, interiors and the spaces in between
It’s Restaurant Week!!!!! Which means, the lasagna with a bechamel sauce that I was going to share with you all this week has been replaced by many many reservations at the most amazing restaurants in New York City. Don’t worry, I’ll get back on that lasagna later, but for now… I have reservations for at least four more lunch or dinner establishments in the city. Restaurant Week, for those who aren’t privy to this pretty incredible event, is 20 days worth of 3-course prix-fixe meals for either lunch or dinner. Many of New York’s finest eateries participate, and it’s the perfect way to try out some of those jaw-dropping menus with less of the
financial burden (iiiiiiif you can stay away from the wine list). :)
Gumbo is one of those dishes in the south that your momma makes better than anybody else’s momma, no matter what. Then you get a little older, start making your own version of your momma’s and as the years pass, the tradition is passed from generation to generation. Some people include okra, some don’t. Some people SWEAR you have to have filé powder, but my momma’s never used it in her life. It’s the first taste in your mouth when the weather starts getting chilly, and it’s best right out of the pot or warmed up the next day. Gumbo is one of those dishes you make in the morning and let sit all day long while the ingredients marry and blend. There are two styles of gumbo: Cajun and Creole. Creole heavily uses tomatoes and filé powder, and Cajun does not, but in general, especially as time passes, the two are beginning to merge. Gumbo is always, though, the above five ingredients served over rice with variations in each component. The following recipe is Katie’s. It’s basically Cajun, but with okra and a small amount of tomatoes added. She’s allowed the roux to get darker over time and this last time used two different types of sausage.
|2 medium onions (vidalia or yellow) – diced||heavy skillet (cast-iron preferred)|
|1 green bell pepper – diced||8 qt gumbo pot or heavy stock pot|
|5 stalks celery – diced||paper bag/paper towels|
|about 25 pieces fresh or frozen okra|
|1 can diced tomatoes|
|1 cup vegetable oil|
|1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour|
|1 4lb chicken|
|2 links of andouille sausage|
|2 links of smoked sausage with green onions|
|15-16 cups of chicken stock (if you decide not to make your own)|
|2 tbsp cajun seasoning plus extra seasoning to taste|
|pinch of filé powder|
|1 serving of rice/person|
Serves 10-15 people, but left-overs are in order!
Part 1: Prep.
Remove innards from the chicken and give er a good wash. Fill a 8 quart stock pot with 4 quarts of water and plop in chicken. Bring to a boil for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until the leg easily pulls off. Remove chicken from water and once it’s cool enough to handle, pull off all the chicken meat. Set aside. Put chicken bones back into the pot and boil for another 30 minutes to create the chicken stock while you start chopping your veg. Strain stock and set aside.
Dice onion, celery, and green bell pepper all to a small dice. One you get good at determining how much veg you want in your personal gumbo, you can vary the amount, but almost everyone agrees the proportions of onion to bell and celery are as pictured above.
Chop the ends off of the okra and slice into rounds.
Part 2: Roux.
See previous post for in-depth instructions on the art of making a roux. Allow to darken significantly… basically till your palms are sweating, you’re so nervous.
Part 3: Go Time.
Once your roux is the color of dark chocolate and in a large enough pot to hold the entire contents of the gumbo, add the veg to the roux and stir until completely combined. Let the veg soften for three minutes over medium-low heat. Season to taste here with 2 tbsp of your choice of cajun seasoning. Katie uses Zatarain’s.
Pour in one cup of chicken stock, allow to come to a boil, REPEAT until the last of the chicken stock comes to a boil, reduce to medium-low heat and cover.
Slice sausage length-wise and cut into half moons about 1/4 inch thick. Get your skillet nice and hot and blacken the sausage over high heat till crispy-crunchy. Throw down a paper bag and then a paper towel. Dump the sausage onto the towel and de-grease slightly by blotting with another paper towel. Eat a couple pieces (you really won’t be able to stop yourself) and throw into your gumbo. Note: Tip: If you’re trying to find which sausages you like, chop each sausage into a different shape (slice into rounds or chop into squares) so that when you’re eating it, you remember!Roughly chop whatever chicken you haven’t snacked on and toss into the pot as well.
Once again, heat the skillet to medium-high. Saute the okra and tomatoes with 2 tbsp cajun seasoning for 5-10 minutes or until the okra doesn’t look slimy anymore. Throw into gumbo as well.
At this point, you have a gumbo. But really, you should do alllll of this before noon and let it sit all day. The longer you wait, the better it is. Season to taste with more cajun seasoning, or sometimes it just needs a little salt or cayenne without the rest of the spices. Thickness is another very personal subject when it comes to gumbo. I personally prefer somewhere in the middle of thick thick and thin, but you can add in more stock to thin it out or simmer with the lid off to thicken it up. Once you’re ready to do this thang, cook up the rice and serve the gumbo on top with a pinch of filé.
Please please let us know what you think, how it goes and if you have any questions!
Every time I start a roux, I’m nervous. Katie, on the other hand, has stirred one up a million times, and I’m pretty sure she could make a perfectly chocolatey-dark roux with her eyes closed. However, I’ve just started creating mine from scratch. My mother makes an AMAZING gumbo, but she’s always used an instant roux (which I will tout the couple of virtues on later). The problem, however, is that you can’t control the depth of color when it’s instant, which counts it out for anything blonde-based, such as Shrimp and Corn Bisque (next week!!). Without further ado, following are guidelines on how to make a roux for any dish.
Step 1: To begin, make sure you know what the goal is. If you are looking for a dark roux, use a fat base with a higher smoking point but fairly neutral in taste, such as vegetable oil or canola oil. If the outcome is a blonde roux, you can use butter or clarified butter.
Step 2: Decide the amount of roux you need. This can vary heavily depending on the recipe. The good news is, you can always remove some of the roux at the end of the process and then add it back in to thicken the sauce to your preference. IE: Make too much, not too little.
Step 3: Heat the fat. In these photos, we used one cup of vegetable oil and a non-stick skillet. (Note: Cast iron is the preferred vessel material, but
you gotta make due!) You’ll know the oil is hot enough when you sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in, and it sizzles as above.
Step 4: Sift in the flour. If you don’t have a sifter, that’s fine too, but make sure to add it in slowly, stirring all the while. As for the stirring utensil, we suggest a wooden spoon or a wisk, but Katie used a spatula in this demo, and it worked swimmingly.
Step 5: The stirring continues. Here is where the roux happens. Once again, the amount of roux being made dictates how long to stir and over what level of heat to work. The main issue is having the heat high enough to darken the roux without being too high and burning it or allowing the oil to reach smoking point. (Both very bad outcomes, and you MUST start over.) And the key to stirring is letting the bottom brown juuuuuust enough to darken the roux, but absolutely not a second longer. (About 15 seconds.) Then stir until the color is even and repeat. Also, as the roux darkens, you can turn it down a bit, as it tends to get darker faster toward the end.
Beginners: Keep in mind, the lower the heat, the less likely the roux will burn. It just takes a little longer. Get your glass of wine or cup of joe close by, and enjoy the process of making your very own roux.
Making a gumbo starts with a roux. That’s where Cajun cooks first begin to learn about making a roux for the most part, but more on that in a bit. As one’s culinary adventures expand, however, the roux becomes a base for many more dishes, spanning several countries. The fat portion of the roux can consist of any fat, from oil to lard
to butter to bacon fat! The key in choosing the fat is to know how dark you’re going to want your roux. Once you heat the fat and sift in the flour, it starts to basically burn on the bottom. If you keep stirring, as it gets thicker and darker, you’ve got an increasingly tasty and rich thickening agent. Once the proper darkness is reached, you can either save it for future use or use it immediately in your soup or gumbo. When adding a roux, add hot roux to cold liquid or vice versa; otherwise, it’ll end up in big ole lumps. Not. fun. Next up: More thorough directions for preparation and use!
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I first bought Coleman’s mustard because it looked so damned good in my kitchen. Then I saw it at Katie’s house and thought I must’ve purchased something good, cause she was such a good cook. Now, I mix it into salad dressings, sprinkle it on sauteed veggies, add it into marinades and dust freshly popped popcorn with that and garlic powder. Here’s a particularly lovely cauliflower puree recipe including mustard powder in the cook’s note. Any creative uses out there we should know about?