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Gumbo -- Cook-Off 3

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#61 viva

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:05 PM

This is my Texas Hill Country grandma's crab & seafood gumbo recipe with...tomatoes. And bacon. Now, I've never made this one. And grandma is notorious for skipping steps, glossing over items, being vague, and in general being a grandmother. But this is what she wrote down for me and I am willing to give it a try. When grandma makes it, the stuff is like heaven. Comments on the recipe welcome before I get myself in a whole mess of trouble.

4 lbs shrimp
2 lbs crab
6 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 large can tomatoes
2 medium cans tomato sauce
2 heaping tbsp flour
Rotel (2 tomatoes, ½ can juice)
Chili powder
1 medium can water
1 crab boil in a bag
Salt & pepper
Tabasco
Gumbo file

Brown bacon. Add onion & sauté. Add flour to make a roux. Brown. Add all remaining ingredients except seafood. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook slowly for 45 minutes. Should be thick, as seafood will thin. Add shrimp & cook 10-15 minutes. Add crab meat & stir gently. Heat for 3-5 minutes.

On a separate note, last week made myself some gumbo z'herbes. Greens, more greens, and andouille. Made the roux, add onions, add andouille, add the greens, then stock & spices. Quite a refrigerator cleaner if you find yourself with a mountain of greens to use up... I used chard, dandelion greens, radish tops, spinach, and carrot tops. ETA I was quite the chicken shit on this one and only managed a blond roux. Must do better! Must have cojones!

Edited by viva, 07 February 2005 - 02:06 PM.

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#62 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:07 PM

I'm torn between being authentic and honoring the spirit of the dish. At it's basis, it's the same as most other peasant food around the world. it's cheap and easy, and it feeds a lot of people. On the other hand, it's authenticity is something to be honored. I find it hard not to get all huffy about it. Mea Culpa.

It's not so much that there are huge geographical differences, but the ingredient combos do vary from family to family. For example, probably half of the gumbos I've ever had included fresh sausage. But I wouldn't put fresh sausage in an okra gumbo. My grandmother and grandfather lived in Cutoff and Golden Meadow (south of New Orleans) when they were first married. They returned to Vemilion Parish in the mid 50's, so I'm not sure if mine is so "authentic" to Vermilion Parish, now that I think about it.

When I was growing up, okra gumbo was more often than not made with chicken, but sometimes with shrimp, if there was some in the freezer. The freezer plays a huge role in the gumbo continuum.

Seafood gumbos are made with a lighter roux because it becomes more like a bisque. Crabs are cleaned, but usually left in the shell, meaning you get to make a mess while eating it, but it's OK - everyone else is doing it too. Shrimp are headed, peeled and deviened.

Chicken gumbos can be made with okra or a medium to dark roux. Sausage, smoked or not, can be added. With fresh sausage, you want to render out at least some of the fat, so parcooking it seperately is an option.

And before anyone even suggests it, don't insult crawfish by putting them in gumbo. It don't work that way, never has. Crawfish stays on it's own, not mixed up with other ingredients and overpowered by a dark roux. Just like you wouldn't mix Beluga caviar with ranch dressing. They are different things.

My all time, best bet, 100% favorite is the good ol chicken and sausage gumbo. Medium dark roux (the color of a pecan shell), a fryer/broiler, smoked sausage, green onions, the trinity (2 parts onion, 1 part bell pepper, 1 part celery), water, cayenne pepper and salt are the only ingredients. Served over hot white rice, maybe a little French bread (carbs be damned), and a thoroughly chilled, very basic mustard potato salad on the side.

That's home, friends.
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#63 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:13 PM

I live in Maryland now so the okra I can grow in my garden is like the okra you can buy in the markets here, i.e. about 3-4 inches long.

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In RI the okra is about two inches long (sniff).

I got them smallest state in the union blues.....
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#64 Jason Perlow

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:18 PM

So did we do good then? Did we honor the gumbo properly? Or will I need to repent my sins now? :)
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#65 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:21 PM

Gross-out alert:

for novices, a couple of pointers. Take up the offer of the jar roux if you have young children. You cannot break up a fight or wipe up blood when you are in the middle of a roux.

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Just to second, once again, that bit of advice. The stuff ain't just as hot as frying oil can get; it also bonds to whatever it hits, especially skin. It's bad news.

I was once stirring a roux with a wooden spoon that got jammed somehow and sent a lil clot onto my knuckle. In the three seconds it took to get to the sink, every bit of my skin had been burned, and it washed off in the stream of water, revealing the bone.

While I'm all for trying it yourself, you certainly don't want to try it unless you can devote your full attentions for a full half-hour-plus to the roux. This isn't about scorching the risotto, friends.
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#66 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:21 PM

So did we do good then? Did we honor the gumbo properly? Or will I need to repent my sins now? :)

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You done good, I think -- but I believe, with gumbo, it may be mo bettah to sin....
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#67 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:23 PM

No worries, Sieur Perleaux. Your looks pretty darn good. :biggrin:

And I don't have anything against the jarred roux either. I make it myself, because I usually have the time, and I don't have little ones tangled at my feet. I can ignore the phone and the doorbell, and I always remember to make a pit stop and grab a smoke before I get started.

And roux is highly dangerous stuff to have around tender skin, whether your own or your offspring's. Be very very careful when dealing with this napalm. And don't let your guard down when you are adding anything wet, say... vegetables into this roux. It will spit and splash and steam, and it will not settle down until the liquid is completly added, and the bottom of the pot is scraped.

Edited by FistFullaRoux, 07 February 2005 - 02:28 PM.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.

#68 Jason Perlow

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:26 PM

Gross-out alert:

for novices, a couple of pointers. Take up the offer of the jar roux if you have young children. You cannot break up a fight or wipe up blood when you are in the middle of a roux.

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Just to second, once again, that bit of advice. The stuff ain't just as hot as frying oil can get; it also bonds to whatever it hits, especially skin. It's bad news.

I was once stirring a roux with a wooden spoon that got jammed somehow and sent a lil clot onto my knuckle. In the three seconds it took to get to the sink, every bit of my skin had been burned, and it washed off in the stream of water, revealing the bone.

While I'm all for trying it yourself, you certainly don't want to try it unless you can devote your full attentions for a full half-hour-plus to the roux. This isn't about scorching the risotto, friends.

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Yeah, its a total commitment on time and concentration. There is no "walking away for a few minutes" with a gumbo roux. If you need to take bathroom breaks, its probably better to have another competent adult person onhand for stirring duty to alternate with who understands the severe ramifications of letting Cajun Napalm burn or getting onto human flesh.
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#69 patti

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:26 PM

I am from FistFullofRoux's neck of the woods (Vermilion parish) so I am curious to see how y'all make okra gumbo.

I live in Maryland now so the okra I can grow in my garden is like the okra you can buy in the markets here, i.e. about 3-4 inches long.

But when we used to garden in Vermilion parish, they used to be double that length! When I first saw small okra in a Maryland market, I asked the man, "No no, Where's your real okra?" He didn't believe me when I raised my hands to show him how big they should be.

Anyway, we used to chop the okra and mix it with green peppers and onions, salt and pepper and simmer it down in vegetable oil for about two hours, until all the gooeyness was gone and the okra was a fairly brown color. The smell of a happy home! Then add canned tomatoes and simmer for a while. And it was never the cast iron pot. Turns out later I learned you shouldn't use cast iron pots with tomatoes. (This would freeze well if you wanted to make gumbo later).

To this you would add your water or stock until you had the thickness you like. Then add shrimp tails, seasoned, and give it a few more minutes.

I see Prudhomme's family cookbook has a recipe that calls for fried chicken okra gumbo, and it's good too!

If you are in Cajun land, stop at a market for home grown okra. Everything's big in Cajun land (or is that Texas). :rolleyes:

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I'm not in Vermilion Parish, I'm in the neighboring parish of Lafayette. You've pretty much covered how I like to make shrimp and okra gumbo, and I don't use okra in any other version of gumbo. Smothered okra and tomatoes is also a tasty dish all by itself.

Edited by patti, 07 February 2005 - 02:30 PM.

"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)

#70 Jason Perlow

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:36 PM

Dare we bring up Gumbo Z'herbes / Gumbo Zab / Gumbo Zap ?

I've seen ones that use a roux, and I have seen ones that don't.

This one uses roux, for example:

http://www.gumbopage...ups/gumboz.html

whereas the Emeril one does not:

http://www.foodnetwo...6_18701,00.html
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#71 hwilson41

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:37 PM

Anyway, we used to chop the okra and mix it with green peppers and onions, salt and pepper and simmer it down in vegetable oil for about two hours, until all the gooeyness was gone and the okra was a fairly brown color. The smell of a happy home! Then add canned tomatoes and simmer for a while. And it was never the cast iron pot. Turns out later I learned you shouldn't use cast iron pots with tomatoes. (This would freeze well if you wanted to make gumbo later).

To this you would add your water or stock until you had the thickness you like. Then add shrimp tails, seasoned, and give it a few more minutes.

If you are in Cajun land, stop at a market for home grown okra. Everything's big in Cajun land (or is that Texas). :rolleyes:

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I'm confused. I see no mention of a roux anywhere in the above shrimp and okra gumbo. Am I missing something, or is there not supposed to be any :wacko:?

THW

P.S. The okra gets big in Texas too :raz:.
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#72 Dim Sim

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:40 PM

When it comes to sausages, just about any smoked type will be good. Andouille is the typical in Louisiana and it is described [url=http://www.gumbopages.com/food/andouille.html]here

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thank you Fifi for that link, :sad: I think I have confused it with the fresh french continental tripe version. it sounds like the type of andouille decribed here is indigenous only in the cajun country.when I feel a bit more energetic I might tackle the andouille recipe on the link.
A while ago I came across a photo essay by (I think ) Mayhaw Man on this site, which depicts the process of gumbo making as well as a few photos around town, I tried to look for it yesterday, I was lost , could any one help me? what about you Brooks ?I really enjoy your article, good work . :smile:

#73 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:42 PM

I'm confused.  I see no mention of a roux anywhere in the above shrimp and okra gumbo.  Am I missing something, or is there not supposed to be any :wacko:?

THW

P.S.  The okra gets big in Texas too :raz:.

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Just like you wouldn't add cornstarch to a roux, okra is a thickening ingredient. Stewed down properly, the sliminess is supposed to turn into thickening, but I don't normally give it a chance to. Roux and okra is overkill.

File' is only used on roux based gumbos (hence, not okra). It is not added to the pot, but served at the table so each diner may season his/her dish to his/her own tastes. I rarely use the stuff. I aim for the simple heart of the brew.

Edited by FistFullaRoux, 07 February 2005 - 02:43 PM.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.

#74 My Confusing Horoscope

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:44 PM

Anyway, we used to chop the okra and mix it with green peppers and onions, salt and pepper and simmer it down in vegetable oil for about two hours, until all the gooeyness was gone and the okra was a fairly brown color. The smell of a happy home! Then add canned tomatoes and simmer for a while. And it was never the cast iron pot. Turns out later I learned you shouldn't use cast iron pots with tomatoes. (This would freeze well if you wanted to make gumbo later).

To this you would add your water or stock until you had the thickness you like. Then add shrimp tails, seasoned, and give it a few more minutes.

If you are in Cajun land, stop at a market for home grown okra. Everything's big in Cajun land (or is that Texas). :rolleyes:

View Post


I'm confused. I see no mention of a roux anywhere in the above shrimp and okra gumbo. Am I missing something, or is there not supposed to be any :wacko:?

THW

P.S. The okra gets big in Texas too :raz:.

View Post


No roux in an okra gumbo in Vermilion parish. Don't see it much in restaurants in Cajun land. I know Don's in Lafayette has it but I can't think of anywhere else except those cheap plate lunch places like Soop's in Maurice.
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#75 highchef

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 02:55 PM

If anyone has Mr. Folse's new cookbook, could you look and see if he uses okra, garlic and/or tomatoes??? I'm curious as Lafayette is dead center south Louisiana.

#76 hwilson41

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:05 PM

No roux in an okra gumbo in Vermilion parish. Don't see it much in restaurants in Cajun land. I know Don's in Lafayette has it but I can't think of anywhere else except those cheap plate lunch places like Soop's in Maurice.

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So if I were making a seafood gumbo, say shrimp and andouille, sans okra, I would use a roux? Spouseperson is not fond of okra, but we all love seafood. Actually, I might add oysters and crabs too :raz:.

THW
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#77 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:12 PM

If anyone has Mr. Folse's new cookbook, could you look and see if he uses okra, garlic and/or tomatoes??? I'm curious as Lafayette is dead center south Louisiana.

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Mr Folse isn't from Lafayette. He's in the Patterson/Donalsonville area, sort of between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, or a little south of there. He's in a swampier area than where I grew up. He's also closer to New Orleans than Lafayette.
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#78 torakris

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:15 PM

ok all these warnings about the roux are starting to scare me as I have 3 small children who love to fight as soon as I step in the kitchen.... :blink:

can it be made ahead of time (like when the kids are in school) and then reheated later?

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#79 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:19 PM

ok all these warnings about the roux are starting to scare me as I have 3 small children who love to fight as soon as I step in the kitchen.... :blink:

can it be made ahead of time (like when the kids are in school) and then reheated later?

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Sure. You will have to let it completely cool to room temp (it takes a while), but it can be stored in a plastic bag, but only once completely cooled. Once it is cool/cold, it can be added to the boiling broth, a little at a time, until you get a good consistency.
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#80 hwilson41

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:20 PM

ok all these warnings about the roux are starting to scare me as I have 3 small children who love to fight as soon as I step in the kitchen.... :blink:

can it be made ahead of time (like when the kids are in school) and then reheated later?

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I'm by no means an authority because I'm asking plenty of my own question, but based on ingredients, I'd hazard a guess that you could make the roux, then throw in the trinity to cool it down and let that simmer a while. From there, you are no longer temperature-critical so you're out of the woods. Somebody more knowledgeable than I will correct me if I'm wrong I hope.

THW
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#81 fifi

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:26 PM

I think the language has moved on.

Gumbo originated as the African word for okra, often used in the stew we now call gumbo.

Okra use dropped off and gumbo came to mean the roux based stew that most of us are familiar with.

Then the term gumbo came to be incorporated into other stew style dishes, like Gumbo Z'herbes, that may or may not contain roux.

Since I am stuck in the 60s when I learned from an elderly and very tradtional lady, to me it is not a gumbo unless it has a roux. It may be a delicious seafood stew, fricassee or whatever, but not gumbo. But that is just me.

Later in life I came to hear about, and be served some oddities (to me) like potato salad on the side. Then, just five years ago, I heard another one. A friend that grew up in Houma told me about the family and local tradition of poaching eggs in bubbling gumbo. The egg is served on a mound of rice and the gumbo spooned around. That was news to me. Goes to show you that you can learn something new every day.
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#82 highchef

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:30 PM

If anyone has Mr. Folse's new cookbook, could you look and see if he uses okra, garlic and/or tomatoes??? I'm curious as Lafayette is dead center south Louisiana.

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Mr Folse isn't from Lafayette. He's in the Patterson/Donalsonville area, sort of between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, or a little south of there. He's in a swampier area than where I grew up. He's also closer to New Orleans than Lafayette.

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Yes, but doesn't he have a resturant in Lafayette? Is he around Albita Springs??
Anyway, what does his book say???

#83 patti

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:36 PM

Dare we bring up Gumbo Z'herbes / Gumbo Zab / Gumbo Zap ?

I've seen ones that use a roux, and I have seen ones that don't.

This one uses roux, for example:

http://www.gumbopage...ups/gumboz.html

whereas the Emeril one does not:

http://www.foodnetwo...6_18701,00.html

View Post

I made gumbo z'herbes once and I probably won't try again. Unlike other gumbos, which improve overnight, my gumbo z'herbes turned into a big ole pot o' greens. NTTTAWT, but that's not what I was after.
"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)

#84 patti

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:45 PM

OK, so torakris can't get smoked sausage.  If she can get some sort of regular sausage and really smoky bacon, would that work?

When I make it, I will get the smoked country sausages from a local meat market.  They are somewhat spicy, and nicely smoked.  And, better than any andouille I can source easily.

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What about smoked ham hocks? Is that available to you, torakris? It could work. As others have said before me, there's no hard and fast rule that you MUST have sausage with chicken gumbo.

Like FistFullaRoux, I'm torn between arguing for authenticity and using what's available, which is the basis of Cajun cooking. I couldn't help but cringe when one out of state friend reported his substitution of brussels sprouts for okra in his gumbo.

Because I don't have a family interested in game gumbos, I make only three: chicken and sausage (andouille or other smoked), seafood (usually shrimp, crab, oyster), and shrimp 'n okra. Of the three I make, shrimp 'n okra gumbo is the only one that includes tomatoes and/or okra.

Your mileage may vary.

HighChef, John Folse doesn't have a restaurant in Lafayette. He's got Lafitte's Landing in Donaldsonville and I'm not sure what else, but nothing here.

Edited by patti, 07 February 2005 - 03:48 PM.

"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)

#85 MicBacchus

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:56 PM

Years ago I lived in Baton Rouge for awhile and was poor (husband in grad school at LSU) but did learn how to make chicken and sausage gumbo. Years after, former husband brought lonely Air Force man for a home-cooked meal, and I fixed chicken and sausage gumbo. After serving it, Air Force man told me he was from LA :shock:. At the end of dinner, he said it was as good as his grandma's, and she was a great cook :wub: . As my son (who was born in Baton Rouge) grew up, a traditional Christmas Eve seafood gumbo evolved which included crab and fish he caught during the summer, and at age 6 he wrote his first 'recipe'. So gumbo has a special place in my heart.

Helpful hints: Have your mis en place fer shur for this one.
WATCH the roux!!
Make the gumbo and eat it the next day for the first time.
You can add the herb mix to the sauteed vegetables and then add them to the roux. Except for the roux, this is a fairly forgiving recipe, and you have a lot of leeway in combining everything.
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#86 torakris

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:56 PM

OK, so torakris can't get smoked sausage.  If she can get some sort of regular sausage and really smoky bacon, would that work?

When I make it, I will get the smoked country sausages from a local meat market.  They are somewhat spicy, and nicely smoked.  And, better than any andouille I can source easily.

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What about smoked ham hocks? Is that available to you, torakris? It could work. As others have said before me, there's no hard and fast rule that you MUST have sausage with chicken gumbo.

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No ham hocks in Japan either...
Actually I WANT to make sausages. :biggrin:
My husband and I have been having fun with the sausage maker I got him for his birthday. I guess we could also smoke them, with the smoker I got him for our anniversary two years ago....

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#87 Jason Perlow

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:57 PM

Dare we bring up Gumbo Z'herbes / Gumbo Zab / Gumbo Zap ?

I've seen ones that use a roux, and I have seen ones that don't.

This one uses roux, for example:

http://www.gumbopage...ups/gumboz.html

whereas the Emeril one does not:

http://www.foodnetwo...6_18701,00.html

View Post

I made gumbo z'herbes once and I probably won't try again. Unlike other gumbos, which improve overnight, my gumbo z'herbes turned into a big ole pot o' greens. NTTTAWT, but that's not what I was after.

View Post


The kind that uses a dark roux is not just a big ole pot o' greens, though.
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#88 My Confusing Horoscope

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:58 PM

No roux in an okra gumbo in Vermilion parish. Don't see it much in restaurants in Cajun land. I know Don's in Lafayette has it but I can't think of anywhere else except those cheap plate lunch places like Soop's in Maurice.

View Post


So if I were making a seafood gumbo, say shrimp and andouille, sans okra, I would use a roux? Spouseperson is not fond of okra, but we all love seafood. Actually, I might add oysters and crabs too :raz:.

THW

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That sounds good. No okra but roux for a gumbo with shrimp, oysters and crab, i.e. seafood gumbo works well. Your sausage might overpower a seafood gumbo, in my experience, so go slow with that, to me.

Now, that's not New Orleans cooking. I like New Orleans cooking too. What I am talking about is Cajun cooking where they speak French, to the west of the city.

They say the bayou area around Lafourche parish is different too. Lots of regional variation, and even within regions.
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#89 fifi

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 04:02 PM

Then by all means, go for it Kristin. I have a link up-thread to a recipe but I am sure that a little googling will get you an assortment. It will be great to see someone with enough dedication to make their own sausage. A rare treat indeed. Please do smoke it and record for us here.

Heads up kiddos! I found the Mayhaw Man Gumbo Odyssey. It was in his blog HERE. It starts with a post that includes the amazing incredible magic gumbo pot. Enjoy. :biggrin:

edit to add: On rereading this thread, I just noticed that Mayhaw Man already linked to his blog. Oh well . . . It doesn't hurt to do it twice.

Edited by fifi, 07 February 2005 - 04:48 PM.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#90 patti

patti
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Posted 07 February 2005 - 04:04 PM

The kind that uses a dark roux is not just a big ole pot o' greens, though.

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I used a dark roux. I'm certainly not dissing Gumbo Z'Herbes itself. I love it. I'm just disssing MY Gumbo Z'Herbes.
"I like 'em french fried pertaters." (Billy Bob Thornton as Karl, in Sling Blade.)





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