Here is another superlative example of the culinary debates that surface over food. This one’s been raging for decades. Quintessentially, Gumbo is a Creole/Cajun soup that has been prepared and enjoyed for over 300 hundred years in Louisiana. The conflict therein lies with the thickening agents used. In Louisiana most gumbos achieve their color and thickness from the brownish roux, a legacy left behind by the French colonial cooks in the 14th century, and in theory, many claim that its roots derive from the French soup Bouillabaisse.
The other side contends with the word Gumbo that comes from the Bantu dialect “ki ngombo”. A lot of the slaves at the time originated from that African tribe and they used okra and filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves) as the main thickening ingredients in their Gumbos.
So there you have it. Does gumbo derive from African roots or French colonialism? Wait, there is yet another speculation that’s been thrown in the mix. Does it bear any part of the culinary foray of the Choctaw Indians that presided in that area for hundreds of years?
Wherever your affections are planted in exulted ground regarding Gumbo, lovers and makers of this Nawlins favorite, enjoy and create their versions from recipes descending from ancestors in their family trees. Whether it comes from a long and laborious process made from scratch or the quicker and easier version, attentiveness is needed to achieve the superlative tasting end result.
There are many versions of Gumbo, but the distinct triumvirate flavors here derive from the shrimp, andouille sausage and vegetables and the flavors that.
Whatever tastes, passions and pursuits lie with Louisiana cooks, you can rest assured that Gumbo will be part of their culinary repertoire, overcoming many ravenous pangs of hunger.
NAWLINS SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE GUMBO
The choice here are shrimp and Andouille sausage,. I create a roux to darken and thicken mine, mostly because I relish the distinctive nutty flavor and the rich, deep color it imparts in the Gumbo.
8 oz of Andouille sausage – sliced into ¼” slices
1 LB of medium/large raw shrimp – peeled and deveined – with tails left on
6 cups of low sodium chicken stock or seafood stock
2 TBSP vegetable oil
¼ cup of APF and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (for the roux)
1 large onion – chopped
2 garlic cloves – minced
½ TSP cayenne – or less to taste
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes – with their juice
1 TBSP tomato paste
2 ribs of celery – chopped
½ green bell pepper – chopped
1 cup of okra – sliced (fresh or frozen)
1 TSP Cajun or Creole seasoning
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
2 cups of cooked white rice
Scallions – green parts chopped
In a medium Dutch oven, put the tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, the stock and bring up to a slow simmer.
In a skillet add a splash of oil and brown the sausage. Set aside on paper towels.
To the skillet add ¼ cup of oil and the APF. Whisking constantly, make a roux till it comes to golden, blond color. Pay attention here as it burns quickly and if it does you will have to start from scratch. Add the holy trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery) the garlic, half a ladle of the cooking stock and stir cooking till slightly softened. Add the “vegetable” roux to the pot with the broth and tomatoes.
Wipe the skillet clean and add another TBSP of oil. Brown the okra till is has lost its sticky gooeyness. Add that to the pot. Incorporate the cayenne, Creole seasonings, salt and pepper.
Cook the contents for about 1 hour till the soup has thickened and it is a nice brownish color. 15 minutes before cooking time is over add the reserved sausage and the raw shrimp.
Place the cooked rice in a mold or small ramekin. Invert the rice over a shallow bowl and serve the gumbo around the rice garnished with finely chopped scallions and parsley.