How to Make Great Gumbo
What Makes a Meal Great?
There's nothing better or more gratifying to me as a cook, than to have my friends and family consistently request the same dish over and over. This is one of my most requested specialties, especially for parties and tailgating. It's been called "Greg's Killer Gumbo" by my friends for as long as I can remember. (When one of your meals gets a nickname, you know you're on the right track) If you like gumbo and you enjoy cooking you'll love this dish!
First Things First...
One of the best things about this meal is it's flexibility for different audiences. I usually make three separate batches (all culled from the main batch) to suit my friend's tastes and preferences. The main batch has a medium level of spiciness and no seafood. I do that because I've met enough folks, especially when tailgating that are allergic to seafood, or can't handle food that's too spicy and this way, those individuals can still have some. The second batch has seafood, and the third is the one with the HEAT!
The HOT one always goes quickly.
* Special note: Anyone can make something so hot that it burns nostrils and tongues, and that's not the goal... the key to really good heat (spiciness) is to have it hot enough to make their eyebrows sweat, but they can't stop repeating the arm motion of spoon to gumbo to mouth, because it tastes so good.
So, decide on what you want in it before you go to the store. I will list all the ingredients I use, but you may not need everything. That's why it's so flexible ingredient wise.
What You'll Need
What You'll Need:
The following items are my "gumbo" tools.
One large pot with lid: I use an old aluminum lobster boiling pot that I got at a yard sale for $3. I even call it my gumbo pot. You can use whatever you want, the size should be large enough to handle 8-10 cups of water with 3 inches to spare. I always make more than one batch at a time since I use the main batch to create additional smaller variety batches. All of the ingredients listed in the ingredient capsule below are for ONE main batch.
A Bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce: I have tried lots of wonderful hot sauces, but this is the one I like the best for this dish.
A can of Cajun/Creole spices: I usually use one of these three; Konriko, Zatarain's, or Tony Chachere's. Side Note: (I usually dump a can into a bowl and add a few additional ingredients, then put it into a new empty shaker which I use in lots of things) I have three different homemade spice shaker blends in the cupboard, one for steaks and beef, one for Creole dishes, and one for spicy spaghetti...Try experimenting yourself and make your own blends, just be careful not to inhale the dust when you pour them back and forth, it can cause severe sneezing and eye irritation.
A Long handled, worn wooden spoon: I don't know why, but I like stirring and tasting with a wooden spoon. Plastic or metal ones just don't seem the same to me. (use whatever you like).
- 1 (7 oz.) box Zatarain's Gumbo Mix with Rice
- 1 Green Pepper, chopped
- 1 Medium White Onion, chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
- 1 lb sausage
- 1 lb chicken (optional)
- 1 lb shrimp (optional)
- 1-2 cups Frozen Okra, chopped
- 1 Red Pepper (optional), chopped
- 1 Tbs Creole seasoning
- 1 Tbs Salt
- 1 Tsp Hot Sauce (optional)
- 1 tsp Ground Gumbo File' (optional)
A bit of olive oil
After about 10 minutes..smells delicious!
A little sausage and a beverage for the cook..Of Course it's NC Microbrew!
Adding some heat about 4-5 drops at a time.
Okra and shrimp go in last
Instructions and (Greg's Tips)
- Cut the sausage into half inch discs and put into bottom of pot on med/low heat with a dash of water.(I like to use Hillshire Farms Kielbasa sausage. It may not be andouille, or as Louisiana authentic) but after trying several different kinds of sausage this is my favorite for this dish.(I also use a dash of olive oil instead of water and a few shakes of creole seasoning)
- Chop the onion and peppers into medium large chunks. Smash garlic clove with the side of a cleaver and peel skin away, slice the remaining garlic mash in half and after the sausage has begun to release its juices, add the onion and garlic, let this mixture cook for about 10 minutes. (about now, the kitchen should begin to smell really good, enjoy a tasty beverage of your choice and have a slice of sausage).
- Add 6 cups of water and Zatarain's gumbo mix. (I always add an extra cup of water for each batch of gumbo mix)
- Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to simmer, add chopped peppers and cover. (if using chicken as well, I cut it into half inch chunks and add it now)
- Let this simmer for about 20 minutes, then start adding Dave's Insanity sauce 3-4 drops at a time until you obtain the right spicy-ness. (I also add salt and creole seasoning to taste and let it simmer a good 3-5 minutes between increments so that everything gets a chance to cook in a little). THIS WOULD BE CONSIDERED YOUR MAIN BATCH. I usually make 3 boxes worth of gumbo mix in my main batch.
- Add the frozen Okra now, let simmer another 5 minutes or so. It's finished!
- (At this time I take about 2/3 of the batch out and add peeled frozen shrimp and cook for another 10 minutes, then I'll remove half of the seafood batch and really spice the remainder up with plenty of heat).
- (I sometimes add a few shakes of Ground Gumbo File' here to thicken it up just a bit if it's watery, or if you have miscalculated any of the salt or spices you can add water to balance it out to your particular taste).