Gumbo A Southern Staple

What is Gumbo? Gumbo is a thick melting pot of all things Creole and delicious. This dish’s main influence is African with hints of Spanish, French, and Native American.

  You know that phrase, “the bigger the bow the better the momma?” Well, the same rules apply to gumbo: “the thicker the gumbo the better the cook.” Roux, file powder, and okra are the best ways to thicken your gumbo to perfection. Getting the right consistency is truly a science. 

    Any good gumbo starts with the “Holy Trinity:” celery, onions, and peppers. Even though there are a plethora of ways to make this dish, those three basic ingredients are always part of this delectable creole comfort food. As for the proteins, well that is truly up to your tastebuds. A simple chicken and shrimp gumbo seems to do the trick in curbing those gumbo cravings, but maybe a more elaborate pot of seafood goodness is more up your alley. I’m going to give y’all my gumbo guidelines to make your next pot of divine succulent goodness.

Ingredients
Roux
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 cups peanut oil 

Gumbo
2 c diced red onion
2 c diced green bell pepper
1 c diced celery
2 c fresh sliced okra ( ¼ inch thick)
14-16 oz sausage of your choice (cut ½ inch thick)
4 cloves minced garlic
½ c bacon grease or butter
1 ½ tbsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
4 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp Slap Ya Momma or your favorite Cajun seasoning
6 q chicken or seafood stock
3 blue crabs halved
2 lbs large peeled and deveined shrimp
2 c bay scallops
2 lbs cooked crawfish
1 lb crab meat
3 c cooked long grain rice

Directions
1) Add peanut oil to a large pot, preferably cast iron, on medium high heat. Slowly whisk the sifted flour into the oil, continuing to whisk for 30 minutes until the roux begins to thicken and turn a dark red color. When the roux is done, set aside in a bowl to cool.
2) Once the roux is removed from the pot, add butter or bacon grease to the pot along with your holy trinity (onions, celery, and bell peppers). On medium high heat, sauté your veggies until they become transparent.
3) Add your dried spices and continue to sauté the vegetables for 2 to 3 more minutes.
4) Add your stock to the pot along with the bay leaves. Bring stock and vegetables to a boil and stir in your desired amount of roux.
5) When you get your gumbo base to the thickness of your liking, reduce your heat to low allowing the base to simmer for 30 minutes.
6) Add okra and sausage to your pot and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
7) Stir in scallops, crab meat, crawfish, and blue crab to your pot and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
8) Stir in shrimp and continue to simmer until you see the shrimp turn pink, it shouldn’t take but 7-9 minutes. Serve over rice.

Tips and Guidelines
  Roux takes time to thicken. Don’t rush it. Adding more flour to your roux is going to end up ruining it or causing you to make more than you need. Equal parts of oil and flour are required – no more of one than the other. }
  Do not substitute stock for water. Homemade stock is the best option, but store-bought will suffice.
  Andouille sausage is normally the “go-to” option, but I use gator sausage when I can find it!
  Gumbo doesn’t have to be basic – you can add oysters, chicken, crab legs, fish, etc. The possibilities truly are endless.
  Green onions and fresh parsley make great garnishes.
  Cornbread, saltine crackers, and Louisiana hot sauce are some additions that can amplify your bowl of gumbo.
  If you don’t like rice, try serving your gumbo over a grits.

 Chelsea Gieselmann is a mom, photographer, columnist, food blogger, and home-cook. Cooking has been a passion of hers since she was old enough to cut out biscuits with the mouth of a mason jar. Her great-grandmother taught her the basics and she is ever so grateful to have been able to learn from her. Since then, she has honed in her craft a great deal and continues to. Instagram: @Southrngritskitchen

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