Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo

I made another cajun favorite of mine today - Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo. I've watched my dad make it so many times I don't bother with a recipe card, I just go with my instincts. I haven't been able to perfect it yet, but today's meal was pretty close. I find it turns out better when I make a large quantity of it. I need to get my dad to ship up some File (pronounced fee-lay), which is simply ground sassafras leaves. Most recipes I find online include okra in the ingredients list, but I find okra slimy and disgusting. My sister compromises by cooking the okra down until all you see are the seeds, but if you are going to do that, then why even bother? So here is my work-in-progress recipe for Gumbo.

Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo
(Made in a 14-L stock pot)

6 stalks celery, chopped
1 whole onion, chopped
1 whole green bell pepper, chopped
several cloves garlic, chopped
3 lbs. chicken
1 whole smoked sausage link, sliced
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
poultry seasoning
poultry spice
dill weed
red pepper / Cajun seasoning
black pepper
1 C oil

1. Fill large stock pot with water and set over high heat to boil. Add bone-in chicken pieces to cook. Should cook 30 minutes to an hour before removing skin and bones. Pot should always be at least 2/3 full with water or broth, so add as needed.
2. Chop vegetables and add to cast iron frying pan with oil to cook down at low heat until vegetables are clear. Should take 30-45 minutes. Add to stock pot.
3. Pour cup of oil into hot skillet and mix in flour a little at a time until all the oil is absorbed. This is called the roux (pronounced roo) and can burn very easily, so be sure to stir it constantly or it will burn and you will have to throw it out and start over. Some people prefer melted butter to oil - I can't taste the difference. Stir until the mixture browns to a dark brown color. When you feel like your arm is going to fall off is a good measure that the roux is dark enough.
4. Next you need to combine the roux with the boiling broth mixture - how you do that is up to you as the roux can burn you very easily. Adding the roux to the stock pot can produce large, very hot splashes, so some recipes will suggest adding some broth to the roux first to cool it down a little. If your skillet is not large enough though, this won't work without risking burning the roux and/or producing a very unappealing sludge. I've tried both methods and can't decide which works better for me. Do what works best for you and your kitchen.
5. Add chopped sausage and seasonings to taste. Add shrimp about 15 minutes before serving to prevent toughness.
6. Serve over a bed of rice in a bowl to resemble soup.


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