(WWTI) – Let’s get some southern food cooking and make it extra spicy, it’s National Gumbo Day.
Gumbo has mysterious origins and is hotly debated. Southern slaves have been put forth as a likely creator with the main thickening agent of okra being translated to “quingombo” in their native West African language. Native American Choctaw peoples are the next contender with file as their choice for thickener being pronounced “kombo” in their language.
While the official food of Louisiana may never definitively choose a creator its influences come from the African, Caribbean, French, German, Native American and Spanish people making it a deliciously multi-ethnic. Gumbo’s cultural significance is a felt heavily in the hearts and minds of the Louisiana people. If you ever go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras — you might observe a fun tradition — where local men go door-to-door begging for ingredients and then cook gumbo in the square that night.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable oil (plus 1 tablespoon)
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 2 large green bell peppers, seeded and diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons creole seasoning
- 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 pound andouille or cajun smoked sausage, sliced
- 6 cups shredded cooked chicken*
- 1 pound okra, trimmed and chopped** (frozen works, too)
- 1-pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined***
- cooked white rice, sliced green onion, and hot sauce for serving
- Option 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup oil in a very large oven-proof dutch oven. Bake uncovered for 2 to 4 hours, stirring 2 or 3 times, or until the roux is milk chocolate brown in color. Once done, you’ll finish the gumbo on the stovetop. (This time can vary a lot based on the oven, cooking vessel, and elevation, so watch for the right color. One reader even said hers got to chocolate brown in about 45 minutes!)
- Option 2: Combine the flour and oil in a very large dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring pretty much constantly, until the roux is a milk chocolate brown color. Be sure to frequently scrape the bottom of the pot when stirring. I like to use a flat-ended wooden spatula or gumbo paddle for this to ensure you get the bits off the bottom of the pot and keep them from burning. This process can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes – or longer – depending on the exact heat of your stove. Be sure not to burn your roux or your gumbo will taste burned. If you start seeing black flecks in the roux, it may be scorched. A quick taste will confirm. If so, you’ll need to start your roux over. It’s much better to undercook your roux than have it burn, but you will sacrifice flavor.
Sauté the Aromatics
- Place the dutch oven with the finished roux over medium heat and add the celery, onion, and bell pepper. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent.
- Add the garlic and creole seasoning and cook for about 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the Stock
- Gradually add 6 cups of chicken stock, bay leaves, and thyme and undrained tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add salt, pepper, and additional creole seasoning to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sauté the Sausage
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the sliced sausage and brown.
- Add the Protein and Thicken
- Once the gumbo has simmered, add the cooked sausage and shredded chicken. Stir to combine. Add the okra and simmer uncovered for an additional 30 to 45 minutes or until thickened. Add additional broth, if desired. Spoon away any excess grease that may accumulate on the top. Remove the bay leaves.
- Once cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the shrimp. The hot stock will cook the shrimp through in about 5 minutes.
- Serve the gumbo with hot cooked white rice, a sprinkle of sliced green onion, and a few dashes of hot sauce – if desired.
Happy National Gumbo Day!