Sunday, November 17, 2013
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.