So first up let’s talk some tomatoes!
I spent most of the day canning yesterday. I ended up with 17 quarts of tomatoes from the 40 pounds! My pressure gauge from my pressure canner was broken so I ended up doing the hot water bath method instead. Whatever…It worked, so that is all I can ask for! I’ll replace my gauge and try the pressure method next time and in all honesty I wasn’t too heartbroken that the gauge wouldn’t work since the thought of pressure canning/cooking sort of freaks me out to begin with.
The majority of the jars were canned as diced tomatoes, but I did do two jars of whole tomatoes and 3 of the crushed variety. Now Alexis and I can make lots of tomato based soups this winter! Fun!
Now let’s talk some gumbo! (Why do I keep typing that “gumob” instead of “gumbo”??)
I’ve always wanted to try my hand at gumbo, but just never had. I have made Ã‰touffÃ©e in the past, but never gumbo. It’s really a simple dish, and in fact I’ve always sort of thought of it as “gravy soup” given the roux base (Somewhere some Cajun/Creole cook just rolled over in their grave at my sacrilege!), but it provides a definite wow factor with only a few simple ingredients. Simple and delicious…I’ll take it!
What You’ll Need:
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6-8 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup of olive oil
3/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 quarts of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of a good salt free Cajun or Creole seasoning
1-2 cups of okra, sliced
2 cups of shredded chicken
First chop onion, bell pepper and celery:
This is known as the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun and Creole cooking. Set aside.
Now let’s talk roux!
Ultimately you want to end up with a lovely, brown, nutty smelling roux that looks like this:
This was my first pass at roux in a while and I have to say I was amazed by how easy it was! There is sort of a stigma surrounding roux that it is hard to make, but I don’t think that is the case! In my head I remembered it as difficult though, I’m not sure why.
Roux is basically fat and flour. I chose to use olive oil, but I’ve seen and read that it can be made with butter or a clear oil. I also added with the flour and oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of finely ground black pepper:
Stir the ingredients to mix until smooth.
When you read recipes for roux it says to stir constantly and I have to be honest…I don’t stand around and stir ANYTHING constantly! I checked it every minute and half to two minutes or so and gave it a good stir. So it was more like stir, put away a few dishes out of the dishwasher, stir, put away a few more, stir, put away the last of the dishes, stir, wipe down the counter, stir, sweep the kitchen a bit, stir, sweep a bit more, etc.
That being said you have to be careful! You want to make your roux over a low to medium heat. Keep in mind you can go from nutty brown to scorched quickly! When it starts getting slightly brown pay closer attention to your roux. It will turn a lovely brown color and actually smell nutty. Basically you’re making a brown gravy and this takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
Once you have browned your roux toss in your “holy trinity” and stir to mix:
Cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until tender, stirring often.
Next add chicken broth, Cajun or Creole seasoning, okra and chicken and stir to mix:
(Note: If you can not find Cajun or Creole seasoning that is salt free then omit the salt from the roux.) Bring the gumbo to a quick boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 1-2 hours partially covered. (Note: I like to do this by leaving the spoon in the pot and placing the lid on. It allows the pot to be partially covered and you’re ready to stir at a moments notice!) Stir occasionally.
To serve, place some rice in the bottom of a bowl:
Next top with a spoonful of gumbo:
You can also serve this with hot sauce and/or chopped parsley.
Notes: You can make gumbo with just about anything. Shrimp is good, or crayfish, or crab, etc. It also freezes well.