Mumbo Gumbo

gumbo side
Gumbo with chickpeas & Field Roast Frankfurters.

This recipe begins with the most important ingredient of all in a gumbo- a roux. Skip the roux, and your gumbo will lack that signature depth of flavor. A roux needs a watchful eye and patience. So, crack open a beer and sip while you stir, stir, stir and gaze lovingly at your sauce. If you don’t drink beer, find yourself something that takes about 20-25 minutes to sip, because it takes about that long to get it to a caramel-colored hue.

My usual Epicurious.com browsing did not satisfy whatever criteria I had in mind, but after scouring the internet, I used this recipe from The Spruce.  I veganized and halved it since I’m the only vegetarian in the family. The okra is missing because it’s out of season, and the bag of frozen okra I tried to use was so woody it was inedible.

The base recipe is below. It’s your job to have fun and go crazy adding in your favorite mock meats and/or veggies. Here are some ideas:

  • I didn’t have much time to think about my “meats” so I used chickpeas and Field Roast’s Frankfurters.
  • Tofurky makes Andouille sausages, but I haven’t seen them in El Paso. Not sure if they still have them, but I found them at the Mountain View Co-op in Las Cruces.
  • Shrimp- I’ve heard that you can find vegan shrimp at the Cielo Vista Natural Market. The Olives for Dinner blog makes her own with king oyster mushrooms.
  • Fake chick’n. There are so many chicken alternatives now, but so far my favorite continues to be Gardein. The Morningstar Farms vegan Pulled Pork would also be good if you’re looking for a shredded chicken texture.

Classic-But-Not Gumbo

Recipe adapted from The Spruce website as noted & hyperlinked above. Recipe below makes about 4-6 servings.
  • 3 cups “chicken” or vegetable broth (I used 1 Edward & Sons Not-Chick’n bouillon cube diluted in 3 cups of hot water)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes (or diced)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4-1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup okra slices (fresh or frozen, thawed)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • Your choice of “meat” or veggie add-ins
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Hot boiled rice (I made 1 cup of Thai Jasmine rice in the rice cooker)
  • Optional: chopped parsley or green onion tops, hot sauce
  1. Combine the broth and tomatoes in a small saucepan over medium heat to bring to a simmer; leave on simmer while you make the roux.
  2. Get your beer or other beverage ready. In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, and continue to constantly whisk until the roux is medium to deep brown. Don’t let the mixture burn, or you will have to start over with fresh oil and flour. It took about 20 minutes to get mine to a medium caramel color.
  3. Add the chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper and season with the thyme and Creole/Cajun seasoning; cook, stirring constantly with a spoon until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Slowly stir the tomato broth mixture into the vegetable and roux mixture until combined.
  4. Add the bay leaf, cover, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  5. While you wait, prepare your “meats” or veggies to add in, i.e., slice up sausage and saute in a bit of oil in a separate skillet. For okra, heat a skillet and add about a teaspoon of oil; reduce to medium heat. Add the okra and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and not stringy or sticky.
  6. Add the “meats” or veggies into the simmering gumbo and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
  8. Serve the gumbo over a mound of rice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or green onions and hot sauce.
gumbo aerial
I plopped the rice on top for aesthetic reasons.
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