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Chris Amirault

Gumbo -- Cook-Off 3

557 posts in this topic

I always season with thyme, as well as a little oregano, poultry seasoning and cayenne, black pepper and some dried parsley. Fresh parsley goes on the top.


Stop Family Violence

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No problem with corn oil. I should probably modify the recipe to say "neutral oil, not olive oil" or, even better, fresh lard. I have been known to use bacon grease as well. It adds a different note.

so would a mix of rendered duck & pork fat that happened to be lying around after cassoulet :biggrin: work well, or would the ducky flavor be wrong?

I have never had gumbo. The only places I ever saw it growing up included seafood (which I can't have) so I assumed that fishy-bits were integral to the dish and I never re-visited the possibility till now.

I'm really looking forward to exploring something new here, but my complete lack of gumbo experience means I don't have a sense of what I can & can't substitute flavor wise so I'm really appreciating all the tips & comments.

Eden


Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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No problem with corn oil. I should probably modify the recipe to say "neutral oil, not olive oil" or, even better, fresh lard. I have been known to use bacon grease as well. It adds a different note.

so would a mix of rendered duck & pork fat that happened to be lying around after cassoulet :biggrin: work well, or would the ducky flavor be wrong?

I

Eden

You should use oil.

You should send all of that pesky duck and pork fat to me.

Of course you can use the rendered stuff. It'll only make it mo' betta.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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About the pot:Don’t even start this unless you have a proper pot, that means heavy.

Well, my pot is heavy because I have to haul it off the top shelf of the cupboard..... :biggrin: (Ok, it's on the thin side, but it's survived so far.)

Don't know about procuring sausages, but it'll be a good challenge. I'm in!

Edited to defend said pot.


Edited by Rehovot (log)

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Mais, what the hell have I been doing to miss this one...

Please note that my gumbo skills were aquired in Vermilion Parish, there may be some differences.

Regarding smoked vs fresh sausage - Smoked will give you a better flavored broth, but I've found that with birds other than chicken (duck, dove, quail, etc) that smoked overpowers the bird too much. A nicely spiced fresh sausage is not a bad option, as long as it is a basic sausage. Not breakfast sausage, no fruit, no rice, just pork (or your choice of meat), fat, seasonings like scallions, cayenne, and a proper amount of salt.

Fifi is right about the types of roux. For a real dark roux (perfect for chicken and sausage), The Hershey bar comparison is close, but I go a hair darker. Think mahogany. Drop a bit on a white plate if you are concerned about the color. For most people, the medium to dark range is going to be fine for starters. It works for nearly all meats. Starting with the dark is not really for the faint of heart. It will smoke up the kitchen with a smell that will linger (your choice if it's good or bad), and it's almost impossible to reheat.

With experience, you can reach the upper levels of rouxdom. Just start off slow. The higher the heat, the quicker it will be done, but it's very easy to overshoot your target that way. Don't even pay attention to the clock. It has no real bearing on what is happening in the pan.

I just realizing I haven't made a gumbo in over a month. I've been in Birmingham too long. I'm slipping... I may have to get in on this.


Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)

Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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I just realizing I haven't made a gumbo in over a month. I've been in Birmingham too long. I'm slipping... I may have to get in on this.

Your namesake demands participation, methinks!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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FistFullaRoux's roux recommendations are right on. And, as to the characteristics of Vermillion Parish Style, please elaborate. One of the fascinating characteristics of gumbo is the regional (and micro-regional) differences. I would hope that we can explore that here. They are all good, all "authentic" and certainly none of them are wrong. If you know the regionality of your recipe, please share.

Another note . . . I often add thyme, maybe oregano. It depends on my mood and what I have hauled out of the fridge to make gumbo. I actually only make that basic recipe once or twice a year when the kids are here and they have fits if I vary. ("And, mom, DON"T **** with the recipe!") Otherwise, anything goes, including the roux.


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

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Hmmm, I've been making my gumbo roux-less as of late, but I have come upon some flour subs that might work out very well flavor and texture wise, so I will have to check those out.

My local safeway was having a clearance on Italian Sausage (Hatfield's brand) and I picked up around 10 lbs of it at around $1 a lb, so, I wonder how that might work in gumbo... I also have some frozen squid rings I need to use, I could toss them in too, and maybe give it some extra tomato kick for an Italian style gumbo.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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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:


Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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I MUST get in on this one. 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. When I burnt the 3rd one in a row (slow learner) I caved in a bought a jar. I don't usually admit that. I'm usually such a purist. I still keep a jar handy if I'm the only adult around! The differences to me, seem to be thus: tomatoes are ok above I-10, the roux gets darker the further south you live and okra starts disappearing as a main ingredient the closer you get to Texas. File is not optional below the interstate. I have never seen fish in a seafood gumbo, but have seen sausage. I admit that bothers me. Seafood gumbos cost me a fortune to make because I only use off the truck gulf shrimp and lump crabmeat and/or cracked claws. I don't put crawfish in gumbo because, well, crawfish taste so much better in a lighter sauce and since I live in sw LA, I make a dark roux. I do put garlic in though....I thought everyone did.

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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 (log)

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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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.


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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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.

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

I got them smallest state in the union blues.....


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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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.

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.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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

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


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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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 (log)

Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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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.

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.

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.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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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:

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 (log)

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

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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.gumbopages.com/food/soups/gumboz.html

whereas the Emeril one does not:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_18701,00.html


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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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:

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:.


"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne." John Maynard Keynes

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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:.

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 (log)

Screw it. It's a Butterball.

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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:

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:.

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.


Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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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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      Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard.

      In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash."
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).

      According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck.

      My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe.

      Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.
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