Is it cold? Fix up some gumbo!
Ooh, baby, it’s cold outside! In Texas that means it’s about 53 degrees, and a warm front is going to blow back from the Gulf tomorrow, kickin’ everything up to about 75. Hey, we take what winter we can get. Anyway, let’s dig out a deep pot and make some gumbo today.
Gumbo is, of course, that stew-like dish popular in South Louisiana and crummy restaurants across the country. Although it apparently originated in New Orleans, gumbo is most closely associated with the Cajuns of South Louisiana – like my mother from Catahoula and my dad from Cecilia. Those folks used to make gumbo that was thicker than Atchafalaya Basin swamp water.
I don’t know how they did it – our good friend Dr. Michael DeBakey (from Lake Charles, La.) used to insist the secret to good, thick gumbo was okra. And he lived to be 99 years old and was pretty much always right … so who knows?
And our good buddy A.J. Judice used to say “good gumbo is the secret to a happy life,” but he never told us how to make it. He knew a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff, or at least he said he did. “When you know, you know,” he used to say in his thick Cajun accent, “and when you don’t know … it’s hard to know.” But we loved him anyway.
OK, let’s get started. The important thing about gumbo is that it always needs a roux. This is made by melting equal parts butter and flour (about 2 tablespoons each) and heating it up until it’s chocolate brown. If this sounds too hard, you can always buy a mix like Zatarain’s Gumbo Base. Or you can buy the stuff pre-made in a jar (Douget’s Rice Milling company makes a fine roux). Once you got this goin’, the rest of it comes together like this:
Chicken, 2 1/2 to 3-pound cut up, or boneless chicken cooked
Sausage (that packaged stuff in the supermarket is fine)
1 1/2 quarts water or chicken stock
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Put your roux, water, veggies and seasonings in a deep pot. Heat it all up to boiling, toss in the meat and simmer it for about five beers. Serve this on hot rice. MMMM!
If you don’t like our recipe, you can check out these tried and true sources:
And finally, here are a few tunes you can play while fixin’ your gumbo.