About this recipe:Gumbo is a native dish of Louisiana and comes from the Bantu word for okra, which helps thicken this spicy stew. Be warned – there’s no quick way to make gumbo, save for reheating it from frozen. If you can, space making this out over two days – make the stock the evening before and chill to collect the excess fat.
If you are really pressed for time, however, you can cheat by using ready-made stock and a roasted chicken. I’m not convinced the results are quite as good, but it will save you about three hours’ of work. Gumbo tastes better after a bit of a rest, so either make it in the morning or leave it for a day.
1 bunch salad onions, tops only roughly chopped (retain onion for dish)
leaves from one bunch of celery
2 teaspoons cajun spice
For the gumbo
500g smoked pork sausage (kielbasa)
125ml vegetable oil
105g plain flour
2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 chopped green pepper
4 chopped spring onions, green part removed
500g chopped okra
1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
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Method Prep:30min › Cook:3hr › Ready in:3hr30min
For the stock:
Bring the water to the boil in a large stock pot. Add chicken and all stock ingredients. Bring to simmer and cook for 90 minutes.
Remove chicken. Pass stock through a sieve to remove debris. Ideally chill – skim and reserve excess fat. Discard stock vegetables.
Pull meat off chicken when cool. Discard chicken carcass. If not using immediately, put in an airtight container in refrigerator.
For the gumbo:
Chop sausage into 2cm thick disks. It is better to cut on a slight angle to each disk is larger than if cut straight. Cut half of the disks in half again, so you end up with 1/2 of sausage as whole disks, and 1/2 as half disks (this will help stretch the sausage out across servings). Fry in a skillet with some oil on very low heat until browned. Reserve the grease by draining the sausage through a colander. Return sausage to fridge.
Top up sausage grease and chicken fat (if using) with vegetable oil until you have 175 ml in total. Heat this in the skillet until a pinch of flour fizzes when added. Add remaining flour, lower heat, and stir for 5 minutes. Stir regularly thereafter for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the roux turns a dark red-brown shade (close to melted milk chocolate in colour).
Put the roux into a large stock pot with a lid. Bring to medium heat, and add half of the chopped vegetables (onions, celery, salad onions and pepper). Cook for one minute. Add the rest of the vegetables and half of the spice mix, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
In another large pot, bring 2L of the stock to a boil. You can do this as the vegetables get close to completion.
When the vegetables are complete, add the stock into the roux and vegetable mixture one ladle at a time. Stir between each ladle (similar to making risotto). Continue to add stock until the gumbo begins to flow. If you want a thicker gumbo, only add 1.25 to 1.5L water. If you want a thinner gumbo (or more servings), add 2L.
Bring to simmer. Add okra, tomatoes, bay leaves and the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for one hour, skimming off any excess grease.
Add okra, chicken and sausage and simmer for 20 more minutes. If you wish, you can add a splash of red wine for flavour. Ideally let rest overnight.
Serve over steamed rice, preferably long grain (you want the rice to be quite sticky, so I would suggest that you avoid easy cook varieties). Add Tabasco and file powder (powdered sassafras leaf) to taste. Goes well with garlic bread and green salad.
If you want to make a vegetarian gumbo, simply increase the amount of tomatoes and okra. If you have excess gumbo, it freezes very well.
If you do not have any Cajun spice, you can make your own by combining: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.