Today’s recipe comes from Adam’s fair hands! He loves to make gumbo & jambalaya, and the recipe that we use has been tweaked and altered to make use of available ingredients & our mid-week evening cooking time.
A few years back we were in New Orleans, eating up a storm of local dishes including beignets from Café Du Monde, gumbo, jambalaya and po’boys. I adore Southern food, for me it’s definitely the best type of comfort food around, especially something like fried chicken & mashed potatoes – yum yum.
When we were in New Orleans we picked up ‘ Dat little cajun cookbook by Chef Remy’, which has served us well these past few years with interesting cajun delights. The two recipes that we always go back to though are definitely the jambalaya and gumbo varients, and there are quite a few! We’ve sort of made our own vegetarian versions of both, they’re faster to make that way.
So, what is a gumbo? A gumbo is sort of a stew, in English cooking terms, and most of them have Okra in (ours don’t, I’ve yet to find an okra recipe that I like) and seafood/chicken. The other main ingredient is the cajun trinity – chopped bell peppers, celery and white onion – a base of most cajun & creole dishes, much as we have stock vegetables in our cuisine. It’s then flavoured with the smokiness of the dark roux, parsley, garlic, cayenne pepper and a hot pepper sauce.
While a meat based gumbo can sometimes take a long time to cook (especially ones where you need to boil chicken for over an hour), this recipe takes around 30 minutes start to finish. Oh, I’d also say that this is a cross between a cajun and a creole gumbo :)
(serves around 2 with leftovers, leftovers are always good…)
3 tbsp Plain flour
4 tbsp Vegetable oil
600ml Vegetable stock
3 chopped bell peppers
3 sticks of chopped celery
1 large chopped white onion
2 cloves of crushed garlic
0.5 tsp Cayenne pepper (or, if you’re a heat fiend then add a whole one)
a good glug of hot pepper sauce (we use a caribbean pepper sauce or Tabasco, which as it’s made in Louisiana will be perfect!)
Handful of fresh parsley
Pinch of ground thyme
1tsp black pepper
Salt to season
Really, this is already a bastardisation of the traditional recipe, so if you find you’re without ground thyme or cayenne don’t sweat it, just do without.
First, make a roux! You’ll have made a roux before when you’ve made white sauce for lasagne, it’s dead easy. Add your oil to a large pan and heat. Add the flour and mix well, you might want to use a whisk for this step. The flour shouldn’t go like breadcrumbs so you might want to add the flour just a bit at a time.
Keep mixing it really well, don’t ever let it sit. You’re going to start to brown the flour but you don’t want it to burn so keep moving it around. You want to get it to the stage of milk chocolate colour. It’ll smoke, too, so turn on your extractors. When it’s milk chocolate colour turn the heat off and keep stirring until it stops sizzling. It should have eventually gone a dark chocolate colour, but remember to turn the heat off when it’s milk chocolate because it’ll keep cooking for a bit!
Now, add your chopped onion and stir well, return to the heat and keep mixing it around as before. Add the vegetable stock and stir well with your whisky until it’s all combined.
Add the pepper, celery, parsley, garlic, pinch of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, pepper sauce and thyme and stir it all up. Boidl for about 20 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the flavours have developed.
A lot of the traditional gumbo recipes end up with the vegetables being quite mushy, but as they’re the main part of this recipe it’s nice to have them quite stable and whole.
And you’re done! Serve over rice and go back for seconds. And next time double up the quantities so you can go back for thirds.
Man, I really want to go back to New Orleans now…
NB. no photos because I er… forgot to take them!