Sunday, January 1, 2012
The good thing about making Gumbo is that you can make it with whatever YOU like. I don't know how anyone else makes it so I'm sure there may be some who would say its not authentic, or that's not the way you do it BUT it has never disappointed and I've had Louisiana natives tell me it reminded them of home. So, on that note lets get started.
INGREDIENTS (for mine):
Chicken (boneless thighs)
Sausage or Hot Links (I've used Farmer John links, or Andouille Sausage or Hot Links)
Others Have Used:
(You can start with about half of this for a much smaller, first time try - like one pack of chicken, one pack of sausage, etc.)
I've never been one to keep track of what I've used for a recipe. Basically you're making a soup. You make your base and then add ingredients to it and as my mom once told me, you start with whatever takes the longest to cook.
Start with a pot large enough to hold your ingredients combined once cooked. I usually make a huge pot and use a family pack of boneless thighs, 1-1/2 to 2 lbs of large shrimp (pre-cook and already shelled), 2 packs of whatever sausage I use, one of those small pre-cooked hams that cost about $5-7 or two hams steaks.
In the pot I add about two inches of water. Boil. While its heating to boil I cut up my sausage and ham into bite site pieces. When the water boils I start a type of gravy base. To do this add flour. Start with about 1/4 cup. Its okay if its weak or too thick. You'll adjust as you add ingredients to the consistency you want. I like gravy flour because it is fine and doesn't clump like regular flour. Add some seasoning.
When the flour has mixed with the water add in your sausage and ham. This will generate oil and flavor. Feel free to add in some of the File. This is the start of your seasoning and flavor. Knowing that you'll be adding in chicken, you'll want to increase your base. I take a glass, put hot water in it and flour and mix. I add it to the base as needed. You may have to do this a couple of times. As you add and increase your base level, remember to add in your seasoning and taste.
I dice up onion, just a couple of slices but feel free to add more or less or none at all. Remember this is to YOUR liking. If you're going to add green peppers or tomatoes this would be a good time since it is the base. I've never used okra cause I don't like it so you'll have to judge for yourself when the best time is to add it based on how long it takes to cook.
When the base is seasoned as you like (garlic power, pepper, salt, onion, ham and sausage and any other seasoning you like), its time to add the chicken. It is okay and probably even better, if it is seasoned heavily at this point because you'll be adding in all that chicken and shrimp. While the base was cooking I would have rinsed the chicken and removed any excess fat I didn't want.
Add in your chicken to the pot. Cover and let it cook. Please check your cooking time for chicken. Stir the pot occasionally because depending on your pot sometimes things stick or burn on the bottom of the pot.
Because shrimp and crab legs don't take long to cook you will add those when the chicken is done. I will suggest that before adding the shrimp you taste your base again for seasoning. Add File according to your taste. The File gives it most of the color and your flour should absorb most of the oil from the sausage or links. This is the last time to check the thickness of your base and seasoning before the pot just gets too full.
Stir in your shrimp and place the crab legs on top. They usually just steam but when they get into the pot and soak up the base that's when they're really good!
Serve over rice.
Remember what I'll always say. Some cooking is trial and error. If you season to your taste even if you mess up it will still taste good. I don't think you can mess up gumbo. It's just soup and you put it what you like so how can you go wrong?
Also, as easy thing to do is buy a pack of pre-made gumbo mix and follow the directions. I never used it until my brother told me about it. Now, sometimes I will add some of it to my base so I don't have to worry about seasoning so much. The gumbo in these photos did not include it. I did it from scratch.
Happy cooking and good luck!