I don't know what Gumbo is. Traditionally it was an Okra based soup, however many modern day recipes don't include Ocra. I tend to consider a Gumbo any soup which is based on a roux, although it's not much of a soup and is normally served over rice. So here is my gumbo recipe. This may be a bit generic, but good gumbo is an artistic expression so you are encouraged to experiment.

Like I said, this is a bit rough... Start off with making a roux as described at that node. Be patient, this is the base of your gumbo. While that's going, in another skillet you want to brown your meat if applicable. My personal favorites are sausage, chicken, and shrimp. For the sausage, I prefer Andouille if you can get it, otherwise plain smoked sausage will work (but it doesn't have as good a flavor). The sausage should be sliced and quickly browned. For the chicken, I generally get chicken fingers from the grocery, as they cut up nicely. Season them with cajun seasoning (I like Emeril's Essense myself) and then quickly brown them, then cut into bite size strips. For shrimp or other seafood, just season it.

Okay, once your roux is done add in the peppers, celery, and onion into the roux and let it simmer for a few minutes until they start to soften up. Next, add your chicken stock and seasonings (garlic, thyme, any other seasonings you want) and bring to a simmer. Add in the chicken or sausage. Now you need a bit of strategy. You don't really want to add any seafood if until you're done cooking it. Now, if you completely cook the chicken and sausage before adding them in, give them about 30 minutes to cook and then add the seafood and cook for around 10 minutes or until the seafood is done. I generally like to throw the chicken in mostly raw after a quick browning, so this means I have to cook the mix for several hours (I generally go four hours on high in a crockpot). I think doing it this way makes the chicken and veggies much more tender and flavorful. Either way, just don't add your seafood until late or it will overcook.

This is a great thing to make ahead of time too, I think it tastes even better the next day, plus if you put it in the fridge overnight, you will be able to easily skim off any fat the next day. Serve hot over rice. Oh, and don't tell anyone it has Okra in it, everything cooks together over a long period of time, and the flavors and textures tend to merge. They'll never notice.

There's a man in a southern town who makes gumbo every day.
He wakes and washes, takes the bus to the store he works in.
He spends the day adding to what he added to the day before.
All day long he does this and the gumbo never varies.

It did vary at the start, whenever the supermarket decided,
or a member of the middle management of the supermarket decided,
that amongst the prepared soups they would henceforth offer their customers gumbo.

He reminds us a little of the train conductors E. B. White wrote of.
The men for whom there is a modest celebration when they hang up their whistle
after thirty or forty years of going up and back on the local line.
He makes us think of all this journey without real travel.

The man in the southern town has read E. B. White,
or at least the collection 'One Man's Meat'
wherein Mr. White comments upon the singularity
that attends these train people as regards their customers
feeling a certain sentimental attachment to them that
by and large, most folks hearts don't conjure when the butcher
decides to hang up his knives or a local lawncare specialist
puts down his scythe for the last time.

He didn't recognize himself in the piece, nor do most of us perhaps,
but then in the main we have little personal connection
with the sanctity of train schedules (or the making up
of gumbo by the monstrous daily gallon).

It must be said that if the store decided one day
to stop offering their customers the option of gumbo to purchase
there would be an outcry and perhaps discussions of boycotting
the place altogether, but this will never happen.

The gumbo is prodigious in its popularity and a pretty profit
is made by it directly and by all the other purchases that people make
because of coming to the store in the first place because of the gumbo in question.

However, if the man who makes it each day,
following the same steps pretty much exactly,
because that's the gumbo the way that people like it,
was replaced (as this man indeed once replaced another man
who was the previous in the line of men who have made the gumbo)
no one -save his wife at best- would spare a thought for him
or wonder absently to other shoppers all waiting patiently at the deli counter
whether shouldn’t there really be a gathering of some kind
or even a ceremony of appreciation (if that isn't, on second thoughts,
perhaps going a little too far).


Gum"bo (?), n. [Written aalso gombo.]

1.

A soup thickened with the mucilaginous pods of the okra; okra soup.

2.

The okra plant or its pods.

 

© Webster 1913.

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