Date Cooked: October 26th, 2008
This dish has been haunting me for awhile. I’ve wanted to try my hand at it for months. In fact it was one of the first dishes I wanted to try. The problem is it scared me, well only the first part did… making a roux. I figured this was a technique I needed to learn. I’ve decided to take the ‘mise en place’ part of cooking more seriously and this time I didn’t start anything until everything was checked and double checked. See I am already beginning to improve as a cook. Once everything was measured and chopped I started in. The first step was to make the stock for the gumbo. This was done by taking the discarded shells from the shrimp and boiling them for 20 minutes. Once done the stock was mixed with clam juice and ice water to provide a warm stock for the gumbo base. This was placed aside so I could begin with the roux.
I was excited and hesitant about this part. The excitement came from getting to use my new La Creuset dutch oven which I picked up at Homesense for practically a steal! It isn’t the one I truly would have liked in a perfect world but the price was right and it is all I needed. Now for the hesitant part, I had to try a controlled burn of flour. The oil was heated in the dutch oven and once the temperature was reached I began slowly adding the flour and constantly stirring. Stirring, stirring, stirring. The book recommends 20 minutes to reach an optimal color? Flavor? Not sure what I am trying to reach. The recipe said it needed to look like a dirty penny or milk chocolate. What do you think?
I was constantly fearful that while making the roux I was going to grab the handles of the dutch oven and burn myself. I caught myself a few times seconds before burning my hand. I’ll need to get used to handling cast iron on the stove top. And I am sure I will probably burn myself before I am conditioned.
Once the roux reached the correct color I threw in some onions, peppers, celery and okra along with some seasonings. Let’s talk about Okra. It is a rather disgusting little vegetable. Well that might be harsh. It has a subtle flavor on its own but is rather slimy as it breaks down. I could only find whole frozen okra so I cut it myself. As it was thawing it gets slimy and when you start to cook, it gets very gummy and stringy. What should I expect from something used as a thickening agent.
After sauteéing the stock was added to the dutch oven and the gumbo was simmered for 30 minutes. Then I added the sausage for another 30 minutes before finally adding the shrimp. A few minutes later the gumbo was removed from the heat and parsley and scallions were added. Served over rice it was ready to eat. I always thought gumbo was thicker and more like a stew than a soup. So to be honest I don’t know if it turned out correctly or not.
Rating: B-. My wife and I both agree about the Gumbo. It was not spicy or seasoned enough. This is more to do with the books quantities and personal taste than anything else. Once seasoned liberally with salt and pepper it was a very nice dish but it really could have used some bite. It calls for cayenne pepper but in such a small amount that I didn’t even notice it at first.
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