Gumbo!

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Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Did you know that, in addition to this being Columbus Day, it is also National Gumbo Day? And since I was born and raised in Louisiana , gumbo is one of my favorite dishes to both eat and cook. While seafood gumbo is one of the more popular versions, I prefer a good chicken and sausage gumbo.  But before I share my recipe with you, I thought I’d share a bit of trivia and history surrounding gumbo first.

Gumbo has been a staple of south Louisiana cuisine for nearly 300 years and there are as many variations on it as there are cooks. While I learned from my mother who learned from hers, and my daughters are now learning from me, you can sample gumbos from each of us and you’ll discover no two taste the same. All true gumbo cooks put their own spin on their dish.

Gumbo is a true multi-cultural dish. While there are debates over its origins, there is no doubt that it contains strong influences from the French, African, Acadian and Native American cultures as well as lesser influences for the Spanish, Italian and even Germans.

There are two theories as to where the dish got its name. The most popular theory is that it originated from the West African word for okra, ki ngombo.  The other theory is that it comes from the Choctaw word for sassafras, which is kombo. (filé powder, a common gumbo ingredient, is ground sassafras).

Most gumbos start with a roux, a mixture of flour and oil employed by French cooks as early as the 14th century.  Much of the thickness, color, and texture comes from the use of this rice and oil mixture.  As for the rest, some cooks prefer to thicken with okra, some with filé (but an authentic gumbo would never contain both).

Now, here is my own favorite gumbo recipe:

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oilGumbo
  • 2 tblsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 5-6 cups chicken or seafood stock (can substitute water if this is unavailable)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb sliced okra (best if sautéed separately with ½ teaspoon vinegar until the ‘slime’ is gone)
  • 4 lbs meat – any one kind or a combination of your favorites.  Meats that work well in a gumbo are Sausage (cut into ½ inch slices), deboned chicken or other fowl, pork, shrimp, crawfish, crab or even game meats. I normally use 2 pounds each of chicken and a spicy sausage.
  • Tabasco sauce, Creole seasoning or liquid shrimp boil to taste (optional). I use Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.

Note, when I’m looking to change it up a bit I will add a small can of diced tomatoes to the gumbo at the same time I add the broth.

 

Directions:

  • Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux.
    Do this by combining the two ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat,  stirring constantly until the mixtures turns the color of a copper penny (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Add garlic, onions, green onions and celery.  Cook until tender
  • Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT okra (and shellfish if applicable) and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes
  • Add okra (and shellfish if applicable).  Return to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes, adding more liquid as needed.
  • Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.

Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.

 

So what about you – do you enjoy gumbo? Do you have a favorite kind?  Have you ever cooked it yourself?

 

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

18 Comments

  1. What a way to start the day with a delicious gumbo recipe! Thank you, Miss Winnie!

    1. You’re quite welcome Melanie! Thanks for stopping by

  2. Hi Winnie, interesting information. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve ever had gumbo. Now I feel deprived.

    1. Yes, you are definitely missing out!

  3. Gumbo Day?! Well, I guess my dinner plans are made! Never mind that is is supposed to be 93 today. That’s how we roll in Louisiana! As a transplanted Louisiana resident, I didn’t learn how to make gumbo growing up and have been too intimidated by all the good cooks around here to try my own, but I may have to give it a go this fall. And I didn’t know all that about file’! Sassafras, huh? Well, well…
    Happy Gumbo Day! Aaaiii-eee!!

    1. Beth, you definitely need to try making a gumbo at least once – it’s fun to develop your own flavors with spice and meat choices.

  4. Never had gumbo.

    1. Then you are really missing out! 🙂

  5. Hi Winnie, my mouth’s watering for sure. We celebrated our 40th in New Orleans a year ago and wow, did we enjoy the cuisine. Hubs loves to cook and has tried many Cajun and Creole dishes since then. I’m gonna make sure he see this recipe. As for Gumbo Day, that has me smiling. My childhood favorite was the Campbell’s tinny gumbo in the can. I can still taste it. Good memories, Great post, my friend. xox

    1. Hi Tanya. I grew up right across the river from New Orleans in a little town called Marrero. Love the local cuisine. I go back as often as I can.

  6. I’ll have to give this a try Winnie. The only time I ate southern/Louisiana cooking was during a trip to Disneyland and I ate at restaurant in the New Orleans section. (Right by Pirates of the Caribbean, equipped with fake fireflies on the bayou LOL.)I chose jambalaya and it was WAY too spicy for me. I’ve steered clear of that kind of cooking ever since. At least if I cook this myself I can lighten up the spices. I have such wimpie taste buds. I’ll take Mexican food anytime, but New Orleans? Not so sure…

  7. Hi Kathryn. Although the spicy aspect of N.O food gets a lot of play in other places, not all south Louisiana cuisine turns up the heat. My momma’s crawfish stew is one example – taste to die for but not at all spicy (though she does put the bottle of pepper sauce on the table for those of us who like an extra kick)

  8. Maybe I’ll try your recipe with the okra sautéed in vinegar. I’m not an okra fan in part because of the ‘slime’.

    1. Glenda, if you’re not an okra fan, you can leave it out. I’ve done that before when I didn’t have some on hand and it came out ok

  9. I enjoy gumbo when it isn’t too spicy. The first few times I had it it was and I didn’t enjoy it. We went to New Orleans and had some there which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have made it since. The recipe I used turned out delicious.Will have to have another Mardi Gras party and fix it again.

    1. A Mardi Gras party – nice!

  10. I like gumbo but have never made it. This looks like a great recipe, thanks for sharing it!

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