mytopleft

Sunday, May 19, 2013

All God's chilluns like food porn

Yeah, it's that time again: food porn, baby. You know you can't turn away, so here it comes. Today's offering is -- drum roll, please -- gumbo. Not soup, not stew, just good.

First off, get a nice, heavy pot, kinda like this one:


You will need a beer, as Cajun food requires it.

OK, now toss in 4 tablespoons of flour and 4 tablespoons of oil. I use olive oil, you can use what you like or what you have. You also can use butter -- we're making a roux here, people, to serve as a thickener for the gumbo. As long as your proportions are 1:1 for the flour and oil/butter, you're good. So any way, heat the oil or the butter, then mix in the flour so it looks something like this:



 Cook that mixture over highish low heat or lowish medium heat until it takes on a nice, reddish-brown color, like this:

Stir often, if not constantly, and keep an eye on it: it's easy to burn, and you don't want that.

Fine, while that is going on -- you're going to have to multi-task here, so it might be better to chop this stuff up before you start your roux if you're nervous about not being able to do both at the same time without burning the roux -- you need to chop up one large onion or two medium onions. I like to use Vidalia onions, although any sweet onion will do in a pinch. Not a bid fan of yellow onions, but I accept that people use them. You also want to chop up two celery stalks -- two ribs, not two bunches; let's not get carried away here:



I did not have a large onion, so I went with two medium onions. You can never have too much onion in a soup/stew/gumbo.

You also will chop up a green bell pepper, and have it ready:


 Once your roux has achieved that lovely red-brown color, you must gradually add two quarts of water, stirring constantly as you go so the roux and the water blend. Then add two pounds of chopped okra. Hard to get fresh okra, so you can used canned okra. Two cans might be best, as your okra is intended to act as a thickener. By the way, you're done chopping vegetables, so you can open that second beer now, as the risk of amputating a fingertip is gone.


Because you also are going to add tomatoes -- my recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but I usually use tomatoes from my garden that I have jarred -- it is permissible to use a canned okra and tomato mix:


While you're adding this canned shit, you also should sautee your onions and celery in butter. Makes it taste better. Don't sautee to a conclusion -- we don't want this stuff carmelized. Just soften it up:


Add the bell pepper and the onion-celery mix to the main pot. Bring everything to a boil, then take the heat down to low and let it simmer for about an hour, like this:

I know, hard to tell that's a low boil, but it is. If you like tomatoes, you can add another can of tomatoes. It's all good. So as it simmers, you can add spices:
These are added to taste: salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, definitely. You can toss in some red pepper, black pepper some Tabasco and/or some Tony Chachere seasoning if you like. I recommend all of the above, but this may take some experimentation on your part. If you are cooking Cajun, you pretty much have to use Tony Chachere. Ditto for Tabasco. No tour of the French Quarter in Nawlins is complete without swinging by the McIlhenny house, the folks who own the company that makes Tabasco sauce. Nice crib. Great family, great product. Use it and shut up, quit bugging me.

Now, you might want to put some meat in this sucker, so once things have simmered for 45 minutes or so, add about a pound of cooked, chopped chicken. You can chop up some boneless chicken and brown it, but that would have to go in sooner, as it will need to cook. I use cooked chicken, cut it up and toss it in. If you don't keep cooked chicken breasts in your freezer, plan accordingly and cook up some chicken chunks.


Ditto for shrimp. Once the chicken has been in long enough to heat through (or cook, if you started with raw, browned chicken chunks), you will be adding two pounds of shrimp. You can use previously cooked shrimp (I did) or you can use peeled, raw shrimp. If you use pre-cooked shrimp, just let the shrimp heat through, then take the gumbo off the heat. For raw peeled shrimp, give it about five minutes before taking it off the heat. Do not overcook your shrimp.


The final product should be pretty thick, somewhere between soup and gravy. I was pressed for time and was forced to serve before it was truly thick enough, but it worked. Serve over rice:


Naturally, the gumbo will be thicker tomorrow. Despite the insufficient thickness, I am told that it was pretty good:



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