How to Make Gumbo Out of (Almost) Anything
I've outlined an oven method for dark roux that sounds daunting, but actually takes little hands-on time. If you're pressed for time, you can make a lighter "blond" roux as described in about 10 to 15 minutes and proceed. But if you go for the dark roux, you'll be amazed at the outcome. Roux can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week, but take care with its preparation; don't try to cook it over too high a heat. If it has many black specks, it’s ruined and you need to start over. Also, hot roux is known as “Cajun napalm” for the nasty burns it can cause, so be careful. If you omit spicy sausage, be sure to kick up the seasonings appropriately. For Cajun spice mix, you can use anything from Tony Chachere's to Emeril's but be careful if it includes added salt. Or, just use some thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt and black pepper. The gumbo with rice serves about 10. It pairs best with a dark beer.
- 1 cup 250 ml canola or light olive oil
- 1 ½ cup 375 ml all purpose flour
- ¾ pound 375 grams raw shrimp, shells reserved
- 3 quarts 3 liters brown chicken or turkey stock or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
- 1 large onion chopped (about 2 cups)|
- 4 ribs of celery chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 green bell pepper seeds removed, chopped
- 1 pound 750 grams cooked Andouille or other sausage, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 28 ounce can peeled, seeded tomatoes (about 800 g)
- 2 Habanero peppers minced
- 2 cups Bloody Mary mix optional
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons Cajun spice blend
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 pound 375 grams okra, thawed if frozen, sliced in bite-sized pieces
- 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
- 1 lemons juiced
- Additional cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste
- 4 cups hot cooked white rice
Preheat oven to 315°F / 160°C degrees.
For the roux, combine oil and flour in an ovenproof sauté pan or a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat. (By ovenproof, this means it doesn't have a wooden or plastic handle.) Stir constantly until the roux is light brown with a nutty smell and turns an almond color, about 10 minutes. You can stop at this point and continue with the recipe. For a dark roux, put into the oven and let cook undisturbed for the first hour. Then carefullystir every half hour afterward until it’s a dark, almost chocolate brown. This will take from 3 to 4 hours. You can do it while doing something riveting, such as watching TV or doing some laundry. Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile, shell and devein the shrimp. Put the shrimp in the fridge. Combine the shells with the stock and simmer while you prep the vegetables, about 20 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8- to 12-quart pot. Cook the onions over medium heat until translucent, then add the celery and green pepper and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 8 to 12 minutes. Then, add the sausage, tomatoes with their juice, bloody mary mix, hot peppers, garlic, seasonings and bay leave. Strain the stock, tossing the shrimp and add the liquid to the gumbo. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. This would be a good time to start cooking your rice.
Taste. If it needs salt or more seasoning, add it. Stir in one-third of the roux until it’s absorbed in the liquid. Keep adding roux a tablespoon at a time until the gumbo reaches the thickness you're after. Bring to a simmer and add the okra, parsley and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are bright pink and the gumbo thickens. Finally, stir in the lemon juice, taste and add more salt or seasonings if needed. Serve over hot rice.