11 comments on “You Never Expected to See This Kind of Stuff Here

    • Oui, mais pas de beer. With my diabetes, if I want rice with the gumbo I’ve got to skip the carbs in the beer (which is sort of like liquid bread with alcohol). So, I say hello to my friend from Tennessee, Mr. Daniels. Jack to his friends.

  1. Well then, it’s simple. Once you have made your roux (beginning with roughly a half cup of flour), add about half an onion, chopped, to the hot roux. Allow onion bits to sizzle in the roux until translucent. Put your roux into a 9 quart, cast iron Dutch oven or similar pot. If possible you really do want to use a cast iron pot. Add a cut up chicken with the heart and gizzard if available (if you are a traditionalist, add the liver as well) (preferably a stewing hen if you can find someplace old fashioned enough to sell such things) and a pound of smoked sausage cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch lengths. [Note on the sausage–you can make the gumbo without this, but it’s like kissing your sister. Well, maybe a really pretty cousin. I prefer to use Rabideaux’s smoked sausage from Rabideaux’s Sausage Kitchen in Iowa, Louisiana. You can get it frozen online from Virtualcajun.com and from Cajungrocer.com–or you used to, at least. Any other well-smoked sausage will do, but well-smoked is the key. When you open a package of smoked sausage, it should smell like barbecue, not like a package of Oscar Meyer Wieners. Tasso may be substituted for sausage or added along with sausage. If you are cooking with sausage and tasso, use 3/4 pound of sausage and 1/4 pound of tasso, with the tasso cut into chunks about as big as your pinkie from the last knuckle to the end–too much tasso and sausage together may make the gumbo too salty.] Add approx. 1 clove of garlic finely chopped. A chopped bell pepper and two or three ribs of chopped celery may be added here, but I generally don’t use them. Add enough cold water to cover the ingredients well then add another cup or two. Bring the contents to a moderate boil and then reduce to simmer. If you are fortunate enough to cook with good Cajun sausage and/or tasso, hold off on seasoning the gumbo until it is nearly done, as the sausage and tasso will contribute a great deal of salt and seasoning. If you don’t have sausage/tasso, add 1-2 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp of black pepper, and a pinch to 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (careful not to overdo the cayenne–gumbo is just supposed to be a little piquant, not really hot). Allow to simmer until chicken is tender, about an hour and fifteen minutes for a fryer, up to two hours for a stewing hen. Season to taste. Serve over rice. Note the enormous range for individuality here (and I’m not even getting into the okra versus no okra and filet versus no filet debates, which have wrecked marriages, divided extended families, and laid waste to entire communities. Tinker with roux/water ratio, bell pepper or no bell pepper, celery or no celery, type of sausage, whether to use black pepper at all (many families regard it as a mortal sin), and so on, until you arrive upon YOUR true and deeply satisfying at a profound spiritual level gumbo. Note, also that many kinds of game may be substituted for chicken–wild goose and sausage gumbo is particularly popular, as is squirrel and sausage, As for other game, debate rages over whether they “taste good in gumbo.” It is generally regarded that venison does not, unless it is a component of the sausage (Rabideoux’s actually sells venison and pork sausage, which is my favorite). Do not mix meats and seafood of any kind. Seafood–meaning shellfish–gumbos are popular as well. Substitute three or four pounds of peeled shrimp, shrimp and crab, shrimp and crab and crawfish, any of the above with oysters, etc. Note on shrimp–when you peel the shrimp, reserve the hulls and boil them separately from the gumbo for about twenty minutes. Add the water from the shrimp hulls to the gumbo. DO NOT add the shrimp raw meat to the gumbo until about five minutes before you serve it, or they will be mushy. You can add crab from the beginning. Add the oysters about fifteen minutes before serving–enough to make sure you have killed off any bacteria but not long enough so that they will start to fall apart. You will generally want a thicker gumbo (high roux/water ratio) and a darker roux for the chicken or game gumbos and a thinner, lighter gumbo for seafood because the flavors of the latter are more subtle. I suppose I’ve buried you in gumbo lore in addition to the basic recipe, but without an old maw maw around to pass this critical information on to you, I have stepped into the breach to fill in this gap in your education. Ca c’est bon.

    • I forgot one thing–if you have no access to any well-smoked sausage or tasso and are making a chicken or game gumbo, a quarter teaspoon of liquid smoke will help fill the breach. It is a poor substitute, but us desert dwellers who live a thousand miles or more from anyone who knows how marry pig and smoke and seasonings into a happy family of taste must make do with what is available. I made a gumbo like this about five days ago, in fact, having long ago exhausted my stock of Rabideaux’s and not being able to justify the luxury expenditure until we start getting the royalties from Brothers in Valor.

  2. Finally, the one gumbo recipe I have been searching for, sans okra!! Thank you so much, party tonight and might invite Jack.

  3. You guys make me feel like Justin Wilson (who is actually about as Cajun as Martha Stewart, but who picked up the Cajun act when he was an oil company safety engineer on offshore rigs which are full of Cajuns).

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