Y'all, my family loves cajun food. Like eat it every chance we get kind of love. Gumbo, jambalaya, boudain, étouffée... GIVE. ME. IT. ALL. When we lived in Missouri a few of the coaches and their wives were from Southern Louisiana, it's here where I learned the difference in "cajun food" and real cajun food...my love grew deep and I soaked up as much knowledge from them as I could.
When we moved back to Tennessee we really started missing our almost monthly cajun cookouts with that football family so I decided to give gumbo my best shot. The problem was, I really didn't like parts of each recipe I had. I put on my brave cajun face and combined several recipes giving it my own twist. Not to brag, but I believe it came out pretty amazing. So, let's get started! Skip my chatting and get straight to the recipe, here.
Before you actually start any cooking, go ahead and have all your spices measured out, veggies and meat chopped and everything ready to go. Once you start with the roux you cannot stop stirring and then you'll need to begin mixing, so it's 100 times easier to have everything ready to go.
A true cajun gumbo requires three things: A cast iron enamel dutch oven (Click Here to buy mine), whisk, and a classic wooden spoon.
The Roux is literally EVERYTHING.
This is what makes your gumbo and it's without question the most daunting task, but don't get discouraged - it's actually pretty simple! It's oil and flour, the heat and constant stirring are the secret sauce. Start by heating your oil over medium high heat, once you can sprinkle flour in and see it bubble you're ready to go. Cast iron holds heat VERY well, so before adding your flour turn the heat down to medium low. Slowly pour in your flour and stir with a whisk --CONSTANTLY! You absolutely cannot stop stirring, otherwise it will burn and you will have to start over. The roux will go through stages, sand color, peanut butter (and it will smell nutty), then copper, deep copper, reddish brown, and finally, black. I stop my roux at 15 minutes at the deep copper color -- the same as an old penny (get a penny out and match the color if you're unsure where to stop it at). You can go on to a 20-30 minute black roux, this is a much richer taste, and most would say acquired, you basically get right to the edge of about to burn. You can watch a video of me making my Roux on my Insta - peep the "Cooking" Highlight!
Colors of the Rainbow
Peppers and veggies bring out the flavors and pairs so well with the andouille. I use 1/3 of red, yellow and orange bell peppers, 1 medium onion, stalk of celery, 11/2 cups chopped okra (frozen or fresh), 3 cloves of garlic and 1 can diced tomatoes. I have also used a jalepeño (without seeds), but this can make it pretty spicy, so it's up to you and how much you like spicy foods!
Here you can play around and add what you like but the two staples are: Cajun Andouille Sausage and Shrimp. I have added chicken before as well and my next batch I plan on adding crab legs!
Spice it Up
You'll need chicken stock (some people use shrimp stock, I've never done this as I think it makes it a bit too fishy), bay leaves, dried basil and parsley, gumbo file, salt & pepper, cayenne pepper (can be omitted if you don't like spicy foods), your favorite hot sauce (I've used Tabasco and Louisiana Hot Sauce, I would have to say may favorite between the two is LHS), and surprise, surprise Cajun Seasoning!
Pour it Over Rice & Chow Down!
Yes, a real "ragin' cajun" will tell you to serve it up with a side of potato salad, but that sounds gross to me, so we keep it traditional over here and serve it alone!
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Flour
1 1/2lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
13oz Andouille Sausage (if you are also using chicken you will need half as much)
1 Stalk Celery
1/4 EACH: Red, Yellow and Orange Bell Pepper
1 Medium Onion
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Cups Chopped Celery (fresh or frozen)
1 Can Diced Tomatoes with juices
32 oz Chicken Stock
2T Cajun Seasoning
1/2T Garlic Powder
1/2T Cayenne Pepper (omit if you do not want spicy, or add more if you like a kick)
1tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Parsley (plus more to garnish)
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 tsp Gumbo File
1/2T Hot Sauce (Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce; omit if you don't like it spicy))
2 Cups uncooked white rice. Cook according to directions.
Heat oil over medium high heat until a sprinkle of flour bubbles, then reduce heat to medium low and slowly add in flour stirring with a whisk constantly. Continue stirring for approximately 15 minutes or until your roux is the color of a penny.
Bump your heat back up to medium high and add in celery, onion, and peppers and stir frequently with a wooden spoon. Once the veggies are soft add in garlic and cook for 2-4 minutes.
Add in all spices except gumbo file and mix well. Once the spices are well blended add in diced tomatoes, sausage and chicken stock. If you are using frozen okra, add it now also. Bring to a strong simmer, reduce heat to low and cover. Allow Gumbo to cook for 1 - 2 hours if possible, but at the very least 30 minutes. Uncover and add shrimp, fresh okra (if using) and gumbo file. Bring back to a strong simmer, reduce back to low, cover and allow to cook for another 20 minutes.
While your gumbo is cooking for the final 20 minutes make your white rice. Once it's done, add your rice to the bowl, pour your gumbo over and serve!
Ok, did you make it?! How did it turn out? Have questions before you start? Let me know, I would love to help and know how yours turned out!
Well, you get down the fiddle and you get down the bow
Kick off your shoes and you throw 'em on the floor
Dance in the kitchen 'til the morning light
Louisiana Saturday night!