What is Gumbo?Gumbo is a type of spicy stew typical of Louisiana and South Carolina cuisines, but also consumed frequently on the Gulf of Mexico. The hearty dish consists basically of two ingredients: broth and rice. While this may sound boring and limited, gumbo is actually a dish with an extremely large variety of flavors and consistencies, depending on how the broth is made.
The main varieties of gumbo broth include seafood, chicken, red meats (including sausages), and pork. A vegetarian variety also exists, and it was created for consumption primarily during Lent. Instead of meat, vegetarian gumbo is made using mashed greens that have been thickened with a roux, a mixture of butter and wheat flour.
The word gumbo is a reference to the African word kigombo, meaning okra. This refers to the old tradition of using okra to provide a flavor base. The rice used in gumbo is not cooked on the broth but separately, and only added to the dish at the time of serving. Once the broth is made, you can then add whatever type of meat and vegetables you feel will complement the dish. For example, you can add tasso, a type of Cajun smoked pork to pork gumbo, or shrimp, crabmeat, and oysters to the seafood gumbo. Gumbo is consumed primarily during winter months because its hearty consistence makes it a great choice during cold days. Also, gumbo requires a long cooking time, as the broth must be left to simmer for hours to achieve the appropriate thickness.
Creole Gumbo, which is eaten primarily in Southern US States, is a mix of Spanish, French, and African cuisine. More vegetables are used than in traditional gumbo, including green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. Spices are lightly used, as gumbo is supposed to have a subtle flavor rather than a strong one. People who prefer a hot variation often ask for hot sauce on the side. Gumbo is the traditional dish of Mardi Gras celebrations in Lousiana, where it is often served by masked horse riders, who first collect the ingredients by stopping door to door and then come back with a warm plate of the ready-to-eat gumbo.
Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) beef broth
1 lb. boneless,skinless chicken thighs
1/2 lb. chorizo sausage, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 lb. medium shrimp, shelled & deveined
1 cup long grain rice, cooked as directed on the package
In a large soup pot, heat oil over med-low heat. Gradually stir in flour, and cook, stirring, until mixture is dark brown ~ about 15 minutes.
Mix the broth in slowly and blend until smooth.
At the same time you start the roux start to cook the vegetables: In a non-stick skillet, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until hot.
Add celery, garlic, green pepper, and onion and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
To the roux-thickened broth add the stewed tomatoes, chicken, chorizo, herbs, salt, black pepper and the vegetables.
Add 4 cups of dark beer or water and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off any fat that comes to the surface.
Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn opaque.