Shrimp, Sausage, and Chicken Gumbo

 In honor of Mardi Gras here is my very first Gumbo [rice has already been stirred in], and aye-eeee, it's sho nuff de-licious!

serves 6
1/4 cup oil or butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 pound Italian, Boudain, or Andouille sausage links, sliced [ I used Boudain, it's rice based and crumbles into the soup, which I, personally, like a lot]
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast - cubed or shredded
1 sweet red or green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper [I just used a tiny dash]
3 cups chicken broth
1 large tomato, diced *optional*
1 bay leaf
1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup frozen sliced okra* optional*

2 or 3 cups cooked white or brown rice

1. In a Dutch oven, brown sausage and chicken. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. 
2. Make roux**[see directions below], if you want it traditional—or simply add 2 TB butter or oil to pan and saute red pepper, onion and celery until tender. Stir in the seasonings; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, bay leaf and meat mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. If you like your gumbo thick, whisk in flour 1 TB at a time until thickened to desired consistency. [No more than 1/4 cup should be perfect.]
3. Stir in tomatoes and okra; cook for 15 minutes. Skim off any foam that floats to the top. Add in shrimp and cook additional 3-4 minutes until shrimp turn pink.

Serve over cooked rice with crusty bread!

**If presentation is super important, brown sausage links first before slicing.**
**I used Boudain Sausage and it's mixed with rice, so once you slice it it crumbles into pieces-- this I actually LIKED as it then wonderfully permeated the entire stew. But just a word to the wise for those who like to keep their sausage in bite sized chunks- Boudain is not the sausage for you.**

**For traditional roux based Gumbo: Start the gumbo by making your roux. Use a heavy skillet and stir together flour and oil/ butter until it is a cocoa brown and thick, smooth consistency. I've heard it recommended you use a wooden spoon, but I can't say why except maybe to protect the surface of the pan. I did, just to be on the safe side.
** Cook on medium heat, stirring almost constantly--will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the color you want the roux. Mine took about 10 minutes and was a nice deep toffee color--not chocolate brown. The darker the color the deeper and nuttier the base of your sauce will taste. For me, Toffee color was just right.*

Once it's your desired color you will want to start adding some broth to the skillet to thin your roux, then pour the it into the big pot [I just started with the pot I was going to cook the gumbo in--why dirty two pots??]. Stir like a madman [I used a whisk]. Add rest of chicken broth, stir some more until there are no clumps.

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