Saturdays are my Sundays. I work Sunday through Thursday, so Saturday afternoons for me have that feeling that the rest of the world gets on Sunday afternoons. Usually, I keep myself pretty busy between homework, housework, and doing stuff with hubby and the pups, but today I find myself whirling around in my desk chair, trying to get the puppy to play with me because I don’t feel like doing anything else. Hubby and I volunteered with our dog earlier today at a library about an hour away (kids read to him while we bribed him with treats to hold still), and I guess that took away a lot of my taste for productivity and adventure today. I actually do feel like cooking, but we need a grocery store trip pretty badly so there isn’t a whole lot to make. Also, I have it in my head that I really want to make Southwest egg rolls, and given that I have none of the ingredients, I’ve got nothing to do in the kitchen. Except clean, but I don’t feel like doing that, either.
In boredom, I called my big brother, and he told me that he had a nice pot of gumbo simmering on the stove. Mmmm, that sounded nice. I don’t have the ingredients to make my own, but I do have pictures from the last time hubby and I made gumbo. I guess writing about it and drooling over those pictures is a good substitute. Well, an okay substitute at least. Okay, it’s really not a substitute at all, but it’s something to do, right?
Gumbo is not something I had ever had before I met hubby. I didn’t even know what it was before he made it for me (New Yorkers don’t know a thing about Cajun dishes that are considered staples in the South). I remember that first batch he made. We were living in different states and seeing each other on weekends, and he whipped up a batch before I came down one Saturday morning. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever had before. I’ve watched him make it many times since then, and I think I could probably manage it on my own at this point, but I don’t think it’d be as good as it is when he makes it. I think he makes it differently every time, so I’ve been slow about picking it up. This last time we made it, we used chicken, sausage, and shrimp.
Start off with a whole chicken. This was a nice fat one. I can’t remember if we removed the skin and fat, but I usually do that when I make soup to keep it from getting too greasy.
Put it in a large pot of boiling water. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and let it cook for a half hour or so.
After a while, fish it back out. Let it cool, and bone it (or de-bone, if you’re Amelia Bedelia). Wow, where did that reference come from? I’ll blame spending an hour with kids in a library earlier today.
I guess we didn’t take that skin off, after all.
And move on to the roux. This is the most important part, as it gives the gumbo the flavor and color. It’s basically oil and flour that is cooked and cooked and cooked until it is a deep, chocolate brown. You can’t burn it, or it’s ruined, so you’ve got to stir it a lot. I suppose the original Cajuns didn’t do it in the microwave, but that’s how my in-laws do it (stirring every 30-60 seconds) and that’s good enough for me.
I didn’t start taking pictures while it was still white, but I remembered after it had started to turn a caramel color. Look at the progression in the color as it kept cooking. Sorry for the lack of consistency in framing – I guess I wasn’t thinking from a trending perspective when I took the pictures.
Pour it very, very carefully into the reserved chicken broth. Don’t let it splash, because it will burn you badly.
Have some chopped onion and celery ready to go. It simmers so much that they pretty much disintegrate, anyway, but hubby likes to use the food processor to get them diced finely anyway. No veggie chunks for us, just flavor.
Based on the following picture and the fact that it was taken before the roux pictures, I can see that we put the veggies in the broth before the roux this last time. But hubby says they should go in right after, so that’s why I’m putting it like that here. Go with it.
Once the veggies have cooked down a bit, you can add in your meat. Back goes the chicken, and here’s some sliced andouille sausage. We’ve pan-fried the sausage before putting it in, but this time we didn’t. I don’t know, ask hubby.
If you’re putting shrimp in, like us, wait a little while. It overcooks easily.
And then just let it simmer for a while. Season it, of course, with salt, pepper, and plenty of cayenne pepper. We like it sinus-clearing hot, but not hot enough to really hurt.
Serve over rice, and you’re good to go.
Omg. I want this so badly now.