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October 30, 2020
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A Christmas Gumbo

No recipe is as controversial as gumbo,

so starting my second column in this space with a subject that is sure to rile-up a good many readers should perhaps give you some pause. What the heck does this guy think he is doing? I promise to always be honest with you (most of the time), so here is the deal: this column is not about objectivity, its not about a consensus of opinion, it’s a very subjective view based on life experiences and what knowledge I have been able to accumulate over the years. I will occasionally tell a story that isn’t exactly based on fact (see note above), but it is only for entertainment value.

christmas gumbo
Almost everything you need for a good gumbo

So just where did gumbo get its start? My story, and I have absolutely no evidence it is true, but it is a good story, is this: one day, a very long time ago, a lonely and hungry Frenchman was wandering around the Gulf Coast, thinking about his home in Marseille. He decided to make the bouillabaisse that his fisherman father used to make on the beach, when he returned from a fishing trip. But there were none of the little fishes his father would have used, he didn’t have the carrots to add to the onions and celery in the mirepoix, there was certainly no saffron and no Pernod, tarragon, and no fennel at all. So, what was he to do? He used onions, bell pepper and celery, he added shrimp and blue crabs, his stock was from the heads of the shrimp, crab shells, and maybe a stray fish head or two, but perhaps most remarkably, he almost burned the roux. A good French cook knew all there was to know about making a good white, blond, and brown roux, but the deep dark brown roux that is absolutely essential to a good gumbo, was unknown.

cooking gumbo
Chef Robby Holmes makes a proper roux at a recent Mary C. gumbo cooking class

I think you get the point, right? Here is a good gumbo recipe, follow the recipe as closely as you like, but stick to the basics. Do not overcook the seafood, do not burn the roux, or make it to light, do not take shortcuts, and do not be in a rush, and, finally, only make gumbo for very good friends and loved ones.

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Christmas Gumbo
gumbo
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Cajun
Keyword Cajun, Main Course, Spicy
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Cajun
Keyword Cajun, Main Course, Spicy
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
gumbo
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Recipe Notes

Sauté the sausage in oil until well browned, remove and set aside. Season the shrimp aggressively with Tony’s. In the same pan (do NOT remove any of the oil or drippings), with the heat turned to very high (smoking hot), add the shrimp, a small hand full at a time. Cook for 1 minute only. Remove and set aside. Add all the vegetables, add more oil if necessary, season again, and cook until the volume of vegetables is reduced by one third. It should take about twenty minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, debone the chicken, add the stock to a large stock pot, add the chicken bones, season, and simmer for about 1 hour. Combine the strained stock and vegetables, deboned chicken, and sausage, make the roux (medium hot pan, wooden spoon, do not stop stirring for 20 minutes), add it and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the shrimp, simmer 10 minutes and serve with Mississippi Blues rice from Rouses.

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