Gumbo, the staple dish from The South is a heartfelt and delicious dish well known to keep you warm during cold nights and begging for second helpings. This by far is not only one of my most favorite dishes to eat but also to cook. Slow cooked stews can be a daunting task to undergo but the results are more than impressive. And if you know the proper techniques then this dish and many more like it will become second nature to make. And this all begins with your ingredients and preparation.
Gumbo is delicious and heartfelt dish which you can mix and match quite a lot of ingredients in. I will first tell you what you absolutely must put into your gumbo because these are the necessities. Firstly you most have flour and oil. I recommend using all purpose flour and a high smoke point oil (an oil that does not burn easily) which would mean canola oil, vegetable oil or grapeseed oil. This is going to be the base of your gumbo called a roux. Next comes the mirequoi or trinity in French. Nearly every Cajun dish will include the trinity. This being bell peppers, onions and celery. It originally comes from France hence the word mirequoi, but in France they substitute celery for carrots because carrots grow more prevalent in France than in the southern United States. Next we will require one large jalapeño and 6-8 cloves of garlic. Yes this is a lot of garlic but don’t worry because garlic is delicious. And lastly for the necessary ingredients you will need about a quart of chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves, creole seasoning, salt and pepper. A comprehensive list of all the ingredients can be found below.
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil
- 6-8 cloves of garlic (crushed then minced)
- 2 ribs of celery
- 1 jalapeño (take out most of the seeds but don’t stress if some stay in its just adds a little extra heat)
- 1 green pepper (diced)
- 1 yellow onion (diced)
- at least 4 cups of chicken stock
- fresh thyme (1-2 teaspoons)
- 5 bay leaves
- cayeene pepper or creole seasoning (I recommend Tony Carchere’s creole seasoning)
- cooked white rice
- some sort of protein (chicken breast, chicken thighs, ground pork, etc.)
- your choice of smoked sausage
- optional vegetable (typical Cajun cooking includes Okra, a vegetable found in the south)
There are a few ingredients that you can really mix and match with in this dish. What I mainly mix and match with in gumbo is the proteins, that being the sausage and main protein (typically chicken). Through my time mixing and matching I have found my personal preferences to how I make gumbo in this protein regard. I found that I enjoy using chicken breast and Andouille sausages. The chicken breast pulls apart after stewing for a while so that you get these delicious strings of chicken in every bite similar to pulled pork. And the and andouille provides a spicey and sausage taste to the dish that you most definitely need. However you can mix and match these proteins to your own taste for instance a nice alternative to the chicken would be ground pork or another classic Cajun protein, crawfish. And a nice alternative to andouille is kielbasa or any other smoked sausage.
I highly recommend watching this video by munchies starring chef Isaac Toupes, owner and chef of Touppes Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. He provides a comprehensive tutorial on how to cook gumbo and makes it comical at the same time. Everyone should try gumbo at least once and I will be going over in another post the necessary steps to make the gumbo because it can be tricky. But if you follow chef Isaac Touppes and my instructions not only will your dish be delicious but it will also give you a foundation for other amazing Cajun meals.