Hi Lisa, I wrote this recipe years ago and I vary it every time I make it.
This time I cheated and used Cajun Power Gumbo Base instead of making my own roux.
Here's mine: (I won two Gumbo Cookoffs with it and two trips for two to New Orleans)
Marlene’s Gumbo Makes 15-20 servings
1 C. vegetable oil
¾ C. flour
4 C. chopped onions
2 C. chopped celery
2 C. chopped green pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic (You can use a garlic press)
8 C. Swanson’s chicken broth (heated which is debated) I cheat unless I have homemade.
1 bag (or less) of Costco’s frozen chicken wings that are like Buffalo Wings. The seasoning on them helps!
1 ring smoked sausage, sliced in to rounds (I use the regular that is a pork/beef mix)
1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I use Joe's Stuff whch is from the New Orleans School of Cooking)
½ tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
Pinch sugar (optional)
2 C chopped green onions
2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp or more!
Cooked rice (I don’t bother with rice)
Filé. (I never use it)
I make my gumbo in stages over two days. The trick is to have everything ready because there is no time to stop once you begin.
First I make the roux. This is the most labor intensive part. BUT, before you begin have all the onions, celery, green pepper and garlic diced and ready. Set a time when you have 2 hours free. Go to the bathroom before you begin! Do not leave the pan while you are stirring. Do not answer the phone, do not answer the door. (The roux goes through different stages so don’t be alarmed… just keep stirring) (I know that Lisa already knows all of this)
A heavy bottomed pan is the best for making the roux. You will need a flat bottomed wooden spatula to stir it…CONSTANTLY until you get the color you want. You might start with a roux the color of peanut butter. I make mine almost as dark as chocolate, but I’ve been doing it for years. The lighter the roux the more thickening properties it has. I think the darker roux has a richer taste. IF YOU BURN THE ROUX, THROW IT OUT AND START OVER This could take over an hour depending on how brave you are with the heat.
Heat the oil in the pan (I use a cast iron skillet which might get too hot for a beginner) on a middle to high heat and when you see the rippling effect dump in all of the flour a little at a time and start stirring.
I start on a higher fire and then turn it down because I’m a chicken. When I think it’s getting too hot I slide the pan off the burner, stir, stir, stir and then put it back still stirring. You can also buy roux already made in a jar! BEWARE! Roux is as hot as moltent lava. You do not want it getting on you.
When the roux is the color you want, dump in all of the onions, celery and green pepper. (Those 3 items together are called the Holy Trinity or just the Trinity) I cook them down until you can’t recognize the individual pieces. I make it a mush. When it’s to this mushy state, stir in the garlic, cook a couple of minutes and transfer it all in to the LARGE stock pot that you’ll be using.
Carefully stir in the warmed up broth, bring it to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Dump in all the chicken wings you want and continue to simmer. (If I have shrimp shells I heat them up in the chicken broth and strain it first)
While it’s simmering saute the sausage to brown it for extra flavor and to get rid of some of the grease. Blot them with paper towels and add them to the pot. Add the Cajun spice, bay leaves, thyme and simmer for the a couple of hours. Taste! If you think it could use a little sugar add a pinch or two. Cool. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning I skim as much of the fat off of the top of the gumbo as possible. Then I pick out all of the chicken skin, bones and what I call knuckles which I guess is cartilage.
Then I heat it up again. The remaining grease will pool on the top of the gumbo. I skim some more with a spoon and then I actually layer paper towels on the top to remove almost all of the grease. I find this to be part of why my recipe wins. It’s not greasy at all.
Heat it up again to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
Approximately 10 minutes before serving, add green onions. Right before you’re ready to serve it dump in the shrimp. They only take a couple of minutes to cook and you don’t want to over cook them. Those small lobster tails were $4 a piece at my grocery store this week so I bought 4 and halved them. Great for presentation! LOL Serve gumbo over rice or without rice as I do. Rice is just a filler. Make your contents stand on their own!
Some people use File powder which gives it a different taste. It also thickens it up. You serve it on the table and stir it in to your own bowl. you never cook file! I don’t use it. I don’t like it! You can also add okra and tomatoes but don’t. It doesn’t need it.
Most serve gumbo over white rice, but I feel it takes away the taste. I serve it like a soup without the rice.
Hope this helps!