Throughout the history of the United States, the ports of New Orleans were second only to New York’s Ellis Island in volume, and variety, of immigrants who were coming to the new world. Due to this unique blend, New Orleans food, much like its culture, stands apart, as it combines French, Spanish, Caribbean, and African influences.
No country’s had the pleasure of the variety of cultural influences, for the length of time, the United States has. This history has made the United States unique, and has made the city of New Orleans “uniquely unique”, with Gumbo shining out as a staple of New Orlean’s cuisine. Familiar, delicious, and satisfying, this is the perfect dish to serve to your friends and family as the weather cools down.
FOR THE GUMBO:
- 2 Large, or 3 Medium Yellow/White Onions Finely Minced
- 3 Ribs of Celery Finely Minced
- 3 Large, or 4 Small, Green Bell Peppers Finely Minced
- 3 Scallions Minced Into Their White and Light Green/Dark Green Sections
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
- Fresh Thyme can be used as well; increase to 1 Teaspoon if using fresh
- 1 Tablespoon Sweet Paprika
- 1/4 Teaspoon Table Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- *4 Cups Chicken Stock
- See note below for instructions on creating a *Shrimp Stock
- 2 Pounds Raw, Unpeeled, Shrimp
- We use frozen shrimp in our Gumbo
- 2 Pounds Bone In/Skin On Chicken Thighs
- 1/2 Pound Chopped Andouille Sausage
- Kielbasa and Black Forest Ham can both be substituted for Andouille (as they are both smoked in a similar way to Andouille)
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1 Teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
*Shrimp Stock– We highly recommend making your own stock for this recipe. The flavor that seafood stock brings to this dish cannot be replicated with chicken stock or other store bought options (try both options, and tell us we’re wrong). To make a quick shrimp stock, peel your shrimps and set aside the shells and tails (reserve, and refrigerate the shrimps themselves for later use in the Gumbo). Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large stock pot on high until the butter begins to change color to a light brown (2 to 3 minutes). Add your shrimp shells and tails to the heating fat. Turn your heat down to medium and stir the shrimp shells into the pot until you begin to see the shells change color from brown/opaque to a bright pink/red color (2-3 minutes), and a fond begins to develop on the bottom of the stockpot. Continue to heat, over medium, for another 2-3 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning to the pot, and continue to cook over high heat, stirring occasionally for another 2-3 minutes. Deglaze with 1 cup of dry/non-sweet white wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.), and stir to combine. Allow the wine to evaporate for 2-3 minutes over high heat, then add 6 cups of cold water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes; skim off any foam that rises to the top. Strain, and use as your cooking liquid in this Gumbo recipe. Check out the Get Cheffy House Made Stock for additional instructions, stock variations, and flavor additions (or just use store bought chicken broth….you lazy little thing).
- Begin by browning your chicken thighs, skin side down, in a large dutch oven, or stock pot. You won’t need to fully cook your thighs, but you’ll want to render out as much of their fat as possible. This will take 10-15 minutes over medium/high heat. Once your chicken thighs have browned, and rendered most of their fat, remove the thighs to a plate and add your sliced Andouille sausage to the rendered chicken fat. Adjust your heat to medium/low, as you render out the fat from your Andouille into the chicken fat that’s already accumulated in the bottom of the pot. Stirring occasionally, you’re looking for a light browning to develop on the Andouille, and on the bottom of your stock pot. Remove the Andouille after 10-15 minutes, and set aside. With your heat over medium/high, add your minced green bell peppers, onions, celery, and minced scallion whites to the pot. Stir your vegetables into the fat at the bottom of the pot, and add your salt, black pepper, thyme and paprika. Stir to combine, and allow the liquids from your vegetables to deglaze your pan. Use tongs, or a heavy wooden spoon, to scrape up the bottom of your pot, and allow to cook, and soften for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once your chicken thighs have cooled, remove their skin with a paper towel and discard (or save, and turn into cracklin to top the gumbo). Add your 4 cups of chicken/shrimp stock to the pot, and add your, now skinless, chicken thighs, and cooked andouille back to the pot. Add your two bay leaves, and reduce your heat to a low simmer. Allow the thighs to continue to gently cook in this liquid for another 45 minutes, skimming off any foam, or fat pools, that rise to the top. After 45 minutes, remove the chicken thighs, and allow to cool (10-15 minutes). Once cooled, shred the thighs, and add the meat back into the gumbo base. Remove the two bay leaves, and discard.
- In a separate stock pot, combine your butter and flour over medium heat to create a roux. Whisk the roux constantly while your watch for its color to darken to a deeper brown color (the color of a penny). Blonde, or white, roux are used for their thickening properties in dishes like biscuits and gravy, and chicken pot pies. Gumbo calls for a darker roux that brings a more robust flavor. The cooking butter and flour will continue to darken in color, and will begin to smell like toasted popcorn. Once your roux is a medium brown/copper color, carefully ladle two cups of your Gumbo liquid into the roux base –NOTE* Roux will react when liquid is added to it, and it will bubble and steam vigorously. This bubbling reaction is normal (though we’ve burned our hands before). Carefully continue to whisk your roux while you add your Gumbo liquid to it. Additionally, roux will begin to darken quicker and quicker as you heat it. If your roux turns black, or very dark brown, stop…do not add it to your gumbo mixture. Throw it out, and begin again, as the flavor of a burnt roux will permeate the dish, and ruin it.
- Once your roux and stock are combined and whisked into a smooth mixture, whisk this thickened roux liquid into your Gumbo and bring back to a boil for one minute. After your Gumbo has boiled, lower the heat back down to a simmer, and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Rinse out the pot that you cooked your roux in, and add an additional tablespoon of butter over high heat. Roughly chop your shrimp and add to the pot with the butter. Cook only for 1-2 minutes over high heat before adding the shrimp and butter to your Gumbo. Stir to combine. Turn the heat off of the Gumbo, add your teaspoon of white wine vinegar, stir to combine, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add any additional salt, black pepper, hot sauce, or vinegar you feel the dish needs. Serve with rice, and garnish with your reserved sliced scallion greens, hot sauce, and crème fraîche/sour cream.
The Holy Trinity– Onion, carrot, and celery, are the foundations of many soups, stews and sauces. Called a mirepoix (MEER-pwah) in French cuisine, and a soffritto in Italian cuisine, this humble mixture of vegetables is named “The Holy Trinity” in New Orleans cuisine, with the carrot omitted, and replaced with green pepper. Add garlic to these vegetables and you get “The Holy Trinity & The Pope”.
GET CHEFFY TIP!- Cajun and Creole cooking are two different things. Creole is more “city cooking”, while Cajun would be more “country cooking”. Creole gumbo would have both okra and tomatoes in it, while Cajun gumbo would have more cayenne, boudin (another type of sausage), and wild game, like catfish, and even alligator meat! Try any, and all of these things in your Gumbo.