Monday, December 15, 2014

Football Soup – Gumbo Requires Patience

Gumbo is a great soup for cool late fall and early winter days, when the smell of something simmering in the kitchen makes the perfect complement for holiday decorating. Gumbo is also a dish that requires the practice of patience. Like the work it takes a muscle to be flexible and strong, patience also requires work to be in great shape. This dish is a great one to make when you have extra help in the kitchen. And I was very thankful for my help with a sore wrist!

Why the patience for gumbo? Because it is made from a roux that is cooked until it is nice and brown, requiring fairly consistent stirring and monitoring. For me, it seems like the change from white flour and butter to a light caramel color seems to happen right away. It is the much more gradual change from that light color to a rich deep brown that seems to take forever. Tantalizing hints of color swirl in as you mix, and then are hidden again. Then suddenly, patience pays off, the color deepens and your roux is ready to go!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 large sweet onions
  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 12-14 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 t. salt
  • ½ t. cayenne
  • 2 t. Cajun seasoning
  • 1.5 lbs Andouille sausage
  • 4-7 lbs of chicken (already cooked)
  • 1 cup green onions
  • 1-2 cups of white rice

  1. Before staring the cooking the roux, prepare the chopped ingredients. This will allow you to cook the vegetables and meat while preparing the roux. Onions and peppers need to be cut into bit size pieces, mince the garlic, and chop the sausage to about ½ inch bites. Keep the sausage separate from the other ingredients as it will be cooked separately. Chicken needs to be pre-cooked, and if you want to add an extra richness, use homemade stock from the chicken. If you have help in the kitchen, and gumbo is great for a cooking party, let helpers help while the roux is started.
  2. Once everything is ready it is time to start the gumbo! In a large skillet melt 1 cup of butter and slowly stir in 1 cup flour over medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Keep working with the roux until it is a dark caramel or milk chocolate color.
  3. In a very large pot, add the chicken stock, chicken, salt, Cajun seasoning and cayenne. Add low heat to start heating the stock.
  4. While preparing the roux, in a lightly greased skillet over medium heat, add the chopped sweet onions, garlic and peppers. Lightly caramelize vegetables in the skillet until they start to soften. Add them to the stock   and mix.
  5. In the heated skillet sear the Andouille sausage to keep those tasty juices inside. Stir occasionally until lightly browned. Add the meat to the   pot with vegetables and stock.
  6. Slowly add the roux and stir well. Let the gumbo simmer until it reaches the desired thickness, for about two hours. Stir regularly. Add more Cajun seasoning and cayenne to taste.
  7. After the gumbo is hot and smelling wonderfully, cook the white rice like normal. Serve with chopped green onions and add hot sauce if desired.

Just like many other things that are worth the practice of patience – so is gumbo. Pull a bowl and enjoy!