Search This Blog

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Easy Gumbo

2 cups each of celery, bell pepper (I used a mix of red and green) and onion (I used a mix of green onions and shallots this time)
1 cup of okra (you can use less, or more, I used what I had)
1/2 cup of oil (use a high smoke point oil, the reason to follow)
1/4 to 1/2 cup AP flour

Can be any meat you want, traditionally, chicken, sausage and seafood are used. In this case, I used a fresh Andouille, and some large shrimp.

Use a good stock, you want at least 4 cups, I used 6 cups of a very good stock. In this case, it was a bunch of stock from boiling down chicken backs.

1. Prepare all of the vegetables. This is pretty important, as the process goes really fast. I like to chop everything into a medium dice. I keep the ingredients separate, but, the vegetables (celery, onion, peppers) can all be together, it doesn't really matter. Place vegetables next to the stove. Keep Okra separate, as it does not go in with the other vegetables.

2. Make the roux, you want to use a large, heavy bottomed stock pot, place the oil and flour into the bottom and start stirring over medium high heat. You can do it over high heat, but, the process goes too fast. You are going to cook, stirring the entire time. The roux will go from a pale tan and seemingly slowly go to a brick red. Keep paying attention, as it will start to turn a dark brown. As it approaches the dark brown stage, you will notice a whisp of smoke. Add the vegetables.

3. Once you see the whisp, add the vegetables. Note, that the oil is very hot, and if you are senstivie to steam, you should wear gloves when adding the vegetables. This must be done at one time, everything. Fry the vegetables for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the stock, note that it is all still very hot, so gloves are still a good option. If you are in a hurry, you can cut the time down by boiling here, it is better to assemble the stock, simmer for 45 minutes and let rest for a few hours.

5. Meanwhile, prepare whatever meats you are going to use. Since I used a very highly seasoned fresh Andouille recipe, there was no need to add salt or spices. But, salt and black pepper should be used if you are using other fresh meats. In my case, I had steamed the sausages before hand, reserved the water and added the water and sausage to the stock. This seasoned it enough. I add the meats and okra and thensimmer the sausage and stock for 15 minutes, then added the shrimp for the last 5 minutes.

6. At this point, remove from heat, serve with a scoop of long grain rice (I like Tex-mati Rice) and some file powder, if you like.

1. I use either a high smoke point oil, or lard, or a mixture of the two. The heat level you will be taking the roux to, is so close to the flash or burn point of many common kitchen oils, if you use something like Canola oil, it will never get to the right color.

2. A variation on the roux, I learned from a Louisiana cook, that what she does, is fry up some very spicy fried chicken, I mean, the flour was red with Cayenne. She then used the resulting red oil, a mixture of peanut oil and chicken fat. I didn't do that this time. It makes for a very spicy Gumbo.

3. The ratios are really one of preference, I use a little less flour than oil, as it seems to get the color I want and has less of a risk of burning. The okra ratio is the trick, too much okra and it can get slimy. But, that is a preference issue. 1 cup was perhaps a little too much for the amount of stock I had, but, I had to buy the okra frozen, thus, I had one cup. And I only had the stock on hand. I will add more stock today, as it was just a little too thick last night.

4. The roux has to be dark brown, that is where the color and flavor of the dish comes from. I added nothing in terms of color than the roux. Done properly, it has a deep complex flavor or toast, nuts, caramel that complements the dish. Literally, a few seconds too long and you are looking at black roux, that taste bitter.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baby Backs, or why did I thaw these when I wanted Gumbo

I really wanted to eat Gumbo this weekend, but, for some reason, a few days ago, I removed these baby back ribs from the freezer. They needed to be eaten. So, no Gumbo, we go with smoked ribs. Might was well do something good here.

The ribs were rubbed with a layer of salt and pepper and then a layer of salt-free rub, basically, granulated garlic, granulated onion, brown sugar, and smoked Spanish paprika. These were wrapped and let sit for 2 hours, meanwhile, I fired up the UDS, with some pecan and all of the charcoal I could scrounge up, I need to buy more charcoal apparently.
Rubbed and Ready

Sweaty meat

The meat went on to the cooker and ran at 225°F initially, and slowly rising to 250°F over two hours. I then sprayed the ribs with what I am calling Peach Pig Honey, which is a variation of my normal Pig Honey, in that I added a can of peach juice, and 2 tablespoons each of molasses and corn syrup (real corn syrup, not flavored of modified). Then I dusted with The Rub Company Barbeque rub. I would normally powder this, but, thought I could just use it straight from the bottle.
Peach Pig Honey and Rub Co.

In any event, things were back to cooking, and four hours later, we ended up with cooked baby backs, with a nice bark, and good bend, well, too good bend. I apparently lost track of testing. None the less, dinner was rested and looked great.
Fresh off the UDS


Then it was time to eat. Standing in the kitchen. Who needs a plate?
Done and done!

Honestly, not my best effort. The surface texture was a little harder than I prefer and the meat was a little overcooked, the thinner parts were too dry, the fatter parts were fine. These we more like loin back than baby backs (although they were baby backs by definition). I needed to go hotter, and I think these would have been fine. And they were a little salty for me, that will need to be adjusted in this method.