Gumbo + turducken = Party! So dust off those beads and pour yourself a hand grenade.
My trusty co-chef and I decided that we should serve something along with the turducken, in case anyone “doesn’t want to eat frankenbird” (direct quote). Hence, part of our multi-day poultry/Everest marathon included a pot of homemade gumbo.
I found this recipe from Epicurious for Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo. Reading the comments, I discovered that the recipe yielded FAR beyond the 16 servings it described, which seemed just right for our group of 30+. Plus, you can make the base the night before and then finished as the turducken was finishing. Excellent.
Like most Cajun/Creole cooking, you start with a roux. A roux is basically cooking flour in oil and stirring constantly until it turns a dark reddish brown. Be patient…this process is the essence of Creole/Cajun cooking. And it’s a cool process at that…flour and oil change into a dark, thick paste. Roux has a hearty smell to it, adding depth, body, and little spiciness to the base of your gumbo.
Into the roux go all your chopped vegetables: onions, celery, bell peppers. Stir to coat with the roux and cook until soft.
Now the seasoning: garlic, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves and wine. And of course, you only use 1 cup of wine which equals wine leftovers. Wine leftovers = the best leftovers.
Add the canned tomatoes along with their liquid, chicken broth, and the cut chicken and andouille sausage. The recipe calls for clam juice, but I could not find it ANYWHERE. I added extra broth. Oddly enough, clam juice is an ingredient that pops up in recipes every so often and I. Am. Stumped. Anyone have suggestions?
Keep simmering and stirring until the chicken is cooked and then add the okra. This recipe called for two bags of frozen okra. I was holding my breath when I walked down the frozen food aisle at the flyover grocery store. WOO!! There it was…top shelf in a corner: frozen okra!! Dump in the okra and cook for about ten minutes.
Two things to note about the above picture. 1) That is a 15 quart stockpot. Yeah…they weren’t kidding about this making a lot of gumbo. 2) The clock on the stove says “12:03”. Yes, that is 12:03AM. I was cooking gumbo at midnight.
At this point, we let the gumbo cool while we cleaned up the kitchen. Then the pot got covered and stashed in the fridge overnight. While I have no scientific evidence to back this up, I think sitting overnight always makes these kinds of dishes better.
So just in time for the Turducken Cajun Extravaganza, the pot goes back on the stove and some more andouille sausage and the shrimp get added, let it simmer a bit and:
Seriously, tell me that is not the fullest pot ever! So. Much. Gumbo.Serve it over some steamed rice and your good to go.
So how was it? I have it on good authority that it was delicious. A new flyover friend and recent transplant from Alabama acted as our official taste-tester. His verdict: “It tastes like good gumbo”. Wooooo!!!
Who’s ready for some gumbo!? All in all, not a difficult dish to make. Just take your time with the roux and maybe get some help chopping the 22 CUPS of vegetables. Oh, and enlist an army of friends to help you eat the stuff.
UNFORESEEN BONUS: Learning what actually goes into gumbo. Obviously, there are a million variations, but it always seemed like an intimidating recipe from another style of cooking. It was a happy surprise to learn that at any given time, I probably have 85% of the ingredients on hand.
So make up a pot for your next gathering, add a couple of those mixed Hand Grenades and make it a party.
Just remember: eat first, then hand grenades.
xoxo Flyover Foodie