Every year I get a turkey for Thanksgiving. This is the first year I actually used it for Thanksgiving, but that’s for a different article. What I always use the turkey for is awesome Louisiana food–namely, gumbo and jambalaya. Right now I’ve got a batch on the stove, and I think I’ve made it enough times to write a good article about it.
Although it’s kind of intimidating, it’s not too hard. For the longest time, making the roux was the scariest part. It’s that essential first step that either makes or breaks your gumbo. I come from two different methodologies when it comes to making a roux, which didn’t help things either. Basically, there are two ways to do it: low and long or hot and fast. But whichever way you choose, the most important thing is that you don’t burn it. I used to be a fan of long and low, but as I got more used to making a roux, my impatience came to take over.
I guess gumbo is one of those foods that I love–the kind you can play with and make your own. I have a recipe that I forced out of my mom written down, but I’ve made so many adjustments and make so many non-measurements that having a recipe has become a little silly. But it is a good starting point. So for those of you who would like a starting point, here you go:
First, here’s what you need:
1/2 cup fats (I use a mix of butter and olive oil–it all depends on your own flavor preference)
1/2 cup flour
2 stalks celery
2 poblano peppers (this is my first year using these, normally I use green bell peppers)
1 yellow onion
11 cloves garlic (Cajuns love them some garlic)
8 oz okra (this is the first time I’ve used this too, I just used half a bag of frozen)
7 cups home-made turkey stock (another super-easy thing to make with leftover turkey bits, article coming soon)
~1 1/2 cup turkey
4 links andouille sausage
It’s true there’s a lot of waiting for this, but in the beginning it’s a flurry of activity, so it’s best to be well prepared before starting anything.
So, first things first, begin by chopping up the sausage and veggies. Put the veggies in a bowl and set aside. You will need them suddenly, so keep them handy.
Then–and this is important, but I always forget to do it–brown the sausage in the same pot you’re going to cook everything else in. It saves you a pan and also helps the delicious sausage flavor permeate everything.
Once they’re done, remove from pot and set aside.
Now it’s time for the roux.
That is your desired end result, but it’s going to start off more like this:
Combine the flour and oil/butter and combine. A french whisk is my favorite tool for this, but a normal whisk or a wooden spoon will get the job done too.
If you want low and long, keep it around 3 and stir forever. This method could take most of an hour but it’s safer in that you’re less likely to burn it (yet more likely to succumb to a murderous rage induced by impatience and slight arm fatigue).
The method I tried out today and which I vastly prefer is hot and fast. I started around 5 and progressively got more impatient and ended around 8 1/2. You definitely have to pay attention to your stirring and make sure nothing sticks to the bottom and burns. But it’s worth it.
Once your roux is a delicious chocolatey brown, take it off the heat and–quick!–add the veggies. They help cool off the roux, which is very important at this stage.
Since gumbo itself takes so long to cook, I didn’t see the need to cook the veggies for too long, though you can if you want on a low heat. Now it’s time to add the stock (should be warm) and meat.
And I don’t have a finished picture yet because it’s still going! But once the rice is done I’ll enjoy a bowl and let you know how it came out.