I know this isn’t a summer dish. It’s hot outside. Who in their right mind would want this on a hot summer night? Well, I did. See, I’m very ADHD and sometimes when I’m watching one of the talking heads on TV cooking something, I have the urge to immediately go duplicate it. So, when I was looking at the Bowl o’ Bayou episode of Good Eats the other day, and saw the sheer genius method of putting the roux in the oven to cook, I thought to myself, “I’m going to make gumbo, just so I can see if AB was right about the oven.” And so, I did.
When it was finished, a sick friend sent her son over for some medication, and I sent him back with a container of gumbo for her as a care package. She texted me, “My son said you put your whole foot in this food!” A rave reply. In the predominantly African-American culture here, that means it was good, although the phrase is usually “put your big toe in it” rather than foot. I hear that a lot – I am always cooking for someone else, because in a house of two people you can only eat so much. I don’t like leftovers. Something reheated is very often not as good as it was straight from the oven. There are a few exceptions. So, I am giving and I share a lot. Yes, I eat up the compliments
I had a small bag of prepared mirepoix frozen for just a time like this, so I placed it in a bowl to defrost while I diced half of a green pepper. I know, I know, cajun and creole food is based on the trinity, but I wasn’t going to stop the shootin’ match just because there was a little carrot involved.
I added 4 ounces of flour, by weight, to my dutch oven and added 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of vegetable oil. After a quick stir, into the 350 F oven for an hour and a half. I stirred a time or two during the time it was in the oven. It came out dark, which I believe is called brick roux. This is definitely cajun gumbo, since it’s based on a roux and not tomatoes.
Everyone into the hot bubbly roux for 7 to 8 minutes until translucent. Had I thought about it, I’d have added the okra at this point as well, but I wasn’t even to the point of chopping them yet. I could have chopped them while the roux was in the oven, but I was distracted by shiny objects.
Don’t forget the garlic. Or, if you’re Emeril, Gaaahlic. Smash the crud out of it, chop it, and let it fulfill it’s garlic destiny.
I added a tablespoon of salt, half teaspoon of pepper, quarter teaspoon of cayenne and a pinch of thyme. Two bay leaves also dropped by for a visit.
Stir this heaping o’ mess together and then slowly add in one quart of stock. Shrimp stock is preferred if you’re adding shrimp. But, I’m not, so I added vegetable stock that I rehydrated from a cube. I knew that this was a salty stock, so I cut back on the salt by a good half when I added the spices. If your stock is bland, use the original amount of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a steady simmer and put the lid on it for 35 minutes.
Go chop up the Okra, 10 to 20 medium-sized pods of it, and throw it in the pot as soon as you’re done with it, and put that lid back on until the 35 minutes is up.
Grab your smoked sausage – I used a link and a half of turkey sausage, and chop it up into slices. This was a skinless variety so it fried up very quickly.
Yum. I’ll need Barkeeper’s Friend to get this pan clean. Why would anyone want to cook with stainless steel? It’s such a pain to keep clean. Oh, I forgot, there are magical fairies on cooking shows who get paid to polish dishes and cookware. Silly me!
After 35 minutes is up, toss the browned sausage into the gumbo. It wasn’t as thick as I liked it at this point, so I committed heresy and added a tablespoon of file powder. Call the Cajun Cops, I mixed okra and file powder, oh noes! But, after sitting for 10 minutes, it had thickened up to somewhere between soup and gravy. I made a little cornbread in the skillet and we sat down to eat this meal with fluffy white rice.
adapted from Alton Brown’s Shrimp Gumbo
4 ounces vegetable oil
4 ounces all purpose flour
2 cups trinity mix (2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part bell pepper)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes with juice
1 quart vegetable stock
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
pinch of thyme
2 bay leaves
2 links smoked sausage, cut into thin discs and browned
1 cup chopped okra (10-20 medium pods)
1 tbsp file powder
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large dutch oven, whisk to combine flour and oil. Place into the oven, uncovered, for 1.5 hours, whisking a few times during the cooking process.
Once the roux is done, remove from the oven and place over medium-high heat. Add the trinity mix and garlic and cook, stirring, for 7-8 minutes until it becomes soft and translucent. Add tomatoes, spices, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the stock while whisking to incorporate. Add the okra. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the sausage and stir. Add the file powder and stir until well incorporated. Cover and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes to thicken. Serve with rice and corn bread.