Thursday, February 21, 2013

Recipe 12: Lazy Voodoo Gumbo

Lazy Voodoo Gumbo
Last week, I attended either the most awesome or most gluttonous feeding frenzy of my relatively young life.  Southern Fight Night is a cookoff between three local restaurants (Trina's Starlight Lounge, East Coast Grill, and Tupelo).  It was delicious; it was filling.  In fact, it was 9 courses of filling, with 8 different types of meat, two kinds of fried chicken, only one plating of grits, and yes, gator.  I also discovered red eye gravy (hello, trouble).  But one of the dishes was a crawfish etouffe, which lead to an in-depth conversation about Mardi Gras and King Cake, and then days later, a lasting desire to eat some gumbo.  I'll make a bold statement/disclaimer here: I am not a southerner, and I've got no business claiming to know gumbo.  And yet...I found myself wanting some.

I consulted the Best Recipe cookbook, the Soup Bible, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, my good friend Loe's Shrimp Creole recipe, and then basically threw my hands up and some things in a pot.  I was a) up the creek without shrimps with shells on, and b) too lazy to make my own, so I just used store bought seafood stock.  Which is apparently a huge cheat, so whatever, I'm a dirty rotten cheater and made my recipe big easy.  (Badum ching?)

This roux is not nearly Cajun enough.
Additionally, I was apparently falsely under the impression that a roux involved only flour and some form of a fatty liquid that originally came from a cow.  Color me shocked to discover that all, yes all, of the many gumbo recipes I consulted began with a roux made with - horror of horrors - boiling hot vegetable oil.  Dudes.  Do you know how freaked out I am by hot oil?  It only took one time of spilling hot coffee grounds on my wrist and a month long burn to enforce the lesson Charlie taught his big brother.  I ruled out using a thermometer; seriously, Best Recipe cookbook?  In my vision of Creole cooking on the bayou, there are no thermometers involved.  But there may be gators! And overalls!  And also, I hope it's cleaner than Beasts of the Southern Wild!  It's too hot for that, anyways.

You'll do, Cajun roux.
But I digress.  I did it, didn't burn myself, and you can too.  Just be prepared to stick with it and stir gently for awhile, to prevent burning (so you don't rue your roux).  The resulting soup was pretty decent, and I was pleased.  You can up the meat or veggie content; there is room in the broth for more.  I'd also advocate for using a low sodium seafood broth if you can find it; some of the ingredients are naturally salty and it's always easier to add than take salt away.  Finally, spice.  It was not spicy enough for me.  I added mucho hot sauco, as my poptart would say.  Tailor it to your audience...but don't be shy!

Below is my own voodoo recipe.  You do what you do...(PS. Probably goes well with Out of the Easy...which maybe also explains why I found myself craving this in the first place!)

Lazy Voodoo Gumbo
Serves 6-8

Lazy Voodoo Gumbo


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
2 medium onions, diced
2 green peppers, diced
12 okra pods, sliced 
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes in natural juice
8 oz clam juice
32 oz seafood stock (low sodium preferred)
2 bay leaves
12-16 oz andouille sausage, sliced
1 lb large shrimp, shells removed
1 Tbsp dried parsley
salt and pepper
hot sauce
rice or grits

1.  To save time, prep everything ahead of time.  It'll be so much easier than worrying about the chances of starting a house fire with your roux.
2.  In a large Dutch Oven, heat vegetable oil over medium high until you begin to hear a low sizzle indicating it is hot.  Test by dropping in a drop of water; if it sizzles you're good to go. 
Glue soup?
3.  Add the flour to the pot, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and lower the heat just a little.  You'll be here a while.  You want to make sure your roux goes from a puttyish color to a brown, dark caramel roux.  Essentially, think about what color Cajun would look like to you, and stir slowly around until you hit this point - it make break up a bit as it cooks off some moisture, but it's fine. 
4.  Add in onions through garlic, and stir to incorporate.  Cook approximately 8-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
5.  Add in the white wine, cayenne, and thyme.  Stir.  It will resemble glue.  Cook for around 3 minutes.
6. Add Worcestershire sauce tomatoes and juice, clam juice, stock, bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
7.  Lower the heat to a simmer, add the sausage, and cook for anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours (depending on your preference for looser or thicker sauce - more for thicker, less for loose).
8.  Taste and season accordingly; add more heat via additional cayenne or your preferred hot sauce.
9.  Add parsley and shrimp, cooking approximately 5 minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
10.  Remove from heat and serve over rice or grits, seasoning each bowl with scallions and hot sauce to taste.
11.  C'est bon, mes amis!
Double duty Le Creuset - I served mine with brown rice.

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