You know what's perfect about food? Food transports you to its origins whether you have the means to travel there or not. Food has no borders, holds no racism, classism, or prejudice. In a world filled with division and hatred, we can still appreciate food from all walks of life.
Whether you're fancy socialite Miss Charlotte La Bouff or hardworking waitress Tiana, you can enjoy a big ol' bowl of soul-warming gumbo. Nothing says Southern creole like some seafood and okra in a thick stew. Personally, I've never been to Louisiana, maybe one day... But give me a bowl of gumbo, put on some Coltrane, and let me close my eyes, I'm instantly transported to a place that I can only imagine is filled with rich culture and life.
6 c: chicken broth
2 lbs: tomatoes (diced) / about 2-3 cans of diced tomatoes
1 lb: andouille sausage or hot links sausage (sliced)
1-2 lbs: shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1/2 c: vegetable oil
1/2 c: all-purpose flour
1 large onion (chopped)
3 green bell peppers (chopped)
1-2 c: celery (chopped)
2 c: okra (sliced)
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp: Old Bay Seasoning
1 tbsp: red cayenne pepper
As much long-grain rice as you'd like. I like to toss a bay leaf or two into the rice cooker to give the rice some flavor.
1. Crank that stove onto medium and heat your skillet up. This is the occasion I take out my cast iron skillet because it's such a pain to deal with for everyday use. Sizzle those sausages until they're nice and brown., then place onto a separate plate. Some people like adding some oil to the pan with the sausages, but my cast iron is already seasoned and once the sausages get cooking, their juices and oils will be enough.
2. Take out that large stock pot. The ones you used to put on your head as a kid and bang around like you were a tin man (or was that just me?). Toss the chicken broth and diced tomatoes sans child head into the pot on medium heat and simmer. I only diced my own tomatoes because my uncle's garden is overflowing with fresh, juicy, plump tomatoes (must resist eating them all before cooking).
3. Back to the skillet on medium heat, ROUX TIME! Combine your vegetable oil and flour on the skillet, whisking constantly. You want that roux a rich brown color, it'll also smell like you're baking peanut butter cookies and make you crave cookies, stay strong. Make sure you don't burn the roux because you're going to have rinse and repeat like shampoo.
4. Toss the chopped bell peppers, celery, and onion into the deep brown roux. Combine well until vegetables soften. The reason for the green bell peppers is that gumbo is such a reddish-brown colored dish that I like to add as much green as I can to mix things around.
5. Once the vegetables are softened, toss them into your stock pot with the already simmering broth and tomatoes. Mix, mix, mix! Look how thick your gumbo is becoming.
6. Back to the skillet on medium heat one more time. Drizzle a little vegetable oil onto the skillet and add the sliced okra. Stir the okra around until it's slightly browning and not so slimy. Don't want any slimy frogs near our mouths! Ain't that right, Tiana?
7. Add the okra, cooked sausage, bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, and cayenne peppers to the stock pot. Cover that baby up, lower the heat to medium-low, put on a Netflix episode, and set the timer to 1 hour. Every once in a while, stir the pot to make sure all your ingredients are getting along. Remember, we're very inclusive when it comes to food.
8. After your hour is up, throw in the shrimp and cook for about 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Beware of the uncooked shrimp because it'll spawn in your belly and give you shrimp babies!
9. Scoop some gumbo into a bowl with some rice, turn up some Ella Fitzgerald, and say hello to Bourbon St.
How many of you out there have tried gumbo? Where's the best place to get some? And let me know if you try this recipe and how it turns out!