Saturday, March 10, 2012


The original recipe for Shrimp Gumbo can be found at Food Network's page at: Courtesy of one of my food hero's, Alton Brown.

Gumbo. The first taste of Cajun cuisine I ever had. And I was hooked. I mean really hooked. This prompted me to endeavor to taste anything from that culture I could. It's been a great culinary journey with Cajun cuisine, and I continue it to this day.

To begin with I'll be honest, this was expensive to make. The next time won't be so bad, because I'll have the equipment, and spices already. I skipped the Blog last week so I could save up to make this dish. This is a dish I've wanted to make since I went to Louisiana for the first time 10 years ago. Yes people this is the first time I have made Gumbo. Thankfully it did turn out, because I took my time and researched it thoroughly.

For this recipe you will need:

4 ounces Veg oil
4 ounces (by weight) All Purpose Flour
1 lb. Shrimp (you can use whole or prepped, regardless get raw)
1 carton Seafood Stock
1 cup diced Onion
1/2 cup diced Celery
1/2 cup diced Green Pepper
2 Tbls Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup diced Tomato
1 Tbls Kosher Salt
1/2 Tspn Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Tspn Fresh Thyme
1/4 Tspn Cayenne
2 Bay leaves
1 lb. Sausage (smoked is great, Andouille is better)
1 Tbls File` powder

This dish is complicated due to the amount of steps it takes to complete, not from the skill level required. That said you want to make sure you pay attention to what you're doing, and do not have anything else more pressing than Facebook going on during this process.

Let's talk equipment first. Gumbo is traditionally a one pot stew (which is a lie). In order to create this wonderful dish you will need a cast iron, dutch oven.

Pictured above is my cast iron dutch oven. It's versitile, heavy, tough, and distributes and retains heat better than any other vessel you most likely own. It can be used stove side or as an oven vessel, which you will soon see. Other than this, a whisk, and long handled spoon (plastic is best for this kind of Dutch oven). Everything else you'll see we have used in the past.

The first step to making Gumbo is the roux (Roo). This is an equal mix of flour and fat that is used to thicken all kinds of soups and sauces. When you first mix a roux it is at it's thickening potential max, but low on flavor. As you cook a roux, you maximize flavor while reducing thickening power. The most flavorful roux you can produce (the one we will use) is called a Brick Roux. It's difficult to get unless you use the oven method which we will do. This... will... take... time. Preheat your oven to 350 F for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Combine your 4 oz. of veg oil with your 4 oz of AP flour in your dutch oven using a whisk.

This is a Blonde Roux. Almost no flavor, but a very powerful thickening agent. This is not what we want. Put your dutch oven in your oven, middle rack, uncovered for an hour and a half. During this time you must whisk your roux 3 times. Try about every 15 minutes or so. What we are going for is a dark reddish brown color. Which you'll see in a  moment. 

While your roux is baking it's time to cut up your ingredients. What we will be using veggie wise in this is referred to as "The Trinity" and sometimes "The Holy Trinity". Onion, Celery, and Green Pepper. This is the Louisiana version of a Mirapoix. 

To cut the Onion we will be cutting it in half, take off the outer shell and the core. Lay the onion on it's side a cut multiple times about 1/4" apart starting at the front of the onion. Then do the same on the top. Then cut horizontally on the top of the onion, and you'll get perfectly diced onion, shown below.

Once you've finished your onion, move on to the Green Peppers. Simply cut them in half, take out the core and seeds, and lay them down cut side down. Then cut them similarly to the onion, shown below.

Next your Celery. This is simple, just cut the celery in to 1/4" peices.

While you're using the cutting board, get out the sausage you bought and cut that in to 1/4" pieces as well. Shown below. Again any smoked sausage will do, but if you can find Andouille (an-doo-ee) that would be the most legit for this dish.

Also (and I apologize for no pics) make sure you dice your tomatoes and mince your garlic as well.

Set all those items to the side, and get ready for your roux to get finished.

While you're waiting for your roux, you can add a little flavor at the expense of a dirty pan. Simply brown your sausage over high heat for a few minutes, your work will be rewarded.

Once your roux is finished, set the dutch oven on your stove top and set the flame to medium high. Add in your Trinity and cook for 8 minutes, constantly stirring. You want the onion to start to turn translucent. Notice the color of the roux in the upper left hand side of the dutch oven. This is proper brick roux.

Once the 8 minutes have passed add the all the seasonings and spices EXCEPT the File` (fee-lay) powder. Also add the tomato and garlic at this point as well. Cook another 2 minutes.

Now slowly start to add your carton of Seafood stock. Try to add just a 3rd or so at a time. You don't want to splash.

After adding the entire carton of stock stir well, and cover the gumbo. Set the heat to a medium low and cover. Let the gumbo simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, add your File` powder and stir well.

After the 35 minutes have passed uncover the Gumbo, and add your shrimp and sausage. Stir well, and cover the pot again. Turn the heat off, and let the pot sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes. Don't worry about the shrimp being raw, they wont be. Shrimp cook WAY QUICK with only a little heat. They'll cook all the way through.

Once your 10 minutes is up you should have a product that looks like this.

I cooked some rice, just simple "rice in a bag" type rice, and served it over that. The finished product looking like the picture below.

I was very pleased with the results of this recipe, and will certainly make this again in the future. The old saying "Anything that flies, swims, slithers, or crawls" does really apply to this. We could've used chicken, snake, gator, crawfish, or just about any other meat you can think of, it's super versatile. I highly recommend this dish to anyone. It's relatively healthy, flavorful, and not terribly complicated. Take your time, and you'll have a great Cajun feast! Eat well everyone!

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