GUMBO! I made this recipe a long, long, time ago, and it had been on my mind lately. Maybe the cold, rainy weather here in Charlotte, or maybe even the anticipation of Mardi Gras. I went through pages and pages of my handwritten recipes, and could not locate my original. So, I figured I would have to use my memory on this one…and “oh my” is all I can say.
Before we get to any of the ingredients, you must have a mindset of PATIENCE. You are going to need a ton of it to get this just perfect. You need to devote at least an hour standing over the roux….yes…one hour…stirring constantly! There are no shortcuts when it comes to the roux. However, it is smooth sailing after! I would suggest getting all of the prep work done prior to starting the roux…you do NOT want it to burn…if it does…you need to start all over again! As daunting as this may sound…it really is not! I will guide you along the way…I took photos every ten minutes so that you could see how the roux develops over time, and compare to what yours should look like.
Local to Charlotte? Grab your fresh shrimp and andouille sausage from The Carolina Meat & Fish Co. Not local, have them ship to you!
As mentioned above, do all of the prep work in advance of starting the roux. Once the roux is finished, it’s just a matter of combining most of the remaining ingredients, except for the shrimp, to simmer. For ease, I purchased a rotisserie chicken and shredded. I would do this again and again.
In a heavy bottom pot, I used an enameled cast iron pot from Lodge (click here to view), heat up the butter and oil on medium. Slowly, whisk in the flour, a little bit at a time. This is where a fair amount of patience comes into play. You are looking to create a dark roux (like chocolate) without burning! You can do this…I got you. You really need to stand over this pot for the next 45 minutes to an hour. Really! Stir almost continuously with either a whisk or wooden spoon. Here are a few photos I took of the process. At the very end, I wanted to develop just a touch more darkness, so I did increase the heat just a bit, then removed from stove (I almost went to far…). These photos show the progression of the roux about every ten minutes. The consistency of the roux may be a liquid or thicker…if you are concerned that it seems too much like liquid, don’t be. As soon as you add the vegetables in the next step…that will all change.
I did remove the pot from the heat as I added in the green pepper, onions, celery, garlic and okra. I only did this because I was concerned that I may have taken my roux too far. I did not…thank goodness. See pic below! This is what yours should look like after you add the vegetables. The roux really thickens up at this stage. Be careful when adding the vegetables…the pot and roux are very hot, so you may experience a little “fizzing.” Again…do not worry…your vegetables are NOT burning…just the oil in the pot and water from the vegetables are “fighting” a bit.
Cook the vegetables in the roux for just a few minutes. Add the seafood stock, chicken stock and cayenne pepper. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add in the bay leaves, andouille and shredded chicken. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and simmer for an hour. Stirring occasionally. Gumbo will thicken as it cooks.
In the last five minutes of simmering, add in the shrimp. Allow to cook until they are pink and no longer translucent. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
I decided against using file’ to thicken my gumbo. I’m not really sold on the flavor. The addition of the okra will help thicken. If at the end of the hour, you want the gumbo to be a bit thicker, take a ladle full of the liquid and combine in a bowl with a bit of cornstarch to make a slurry. Turn heat up to medium-high and slowly incorporate the slurry. This will definitely do the trick.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Grab a few bowls filled with your prepared rice (I kind of cheated here and used VeeTee...my favorite when I do not feel like preparing myself) and ladle on this delicious GUMBO! ENJOY! You are going to love, love, love this recipe!