Gumbo

From Cook's Country | August/September 2010
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Why this recipe works:

We created a relatively hands-off roux for our Gumbo by toasting the flour on the stovetop, adding the oil, and finishing the roux in the oven. For the soup base, we started by making our own shrimp stock, but the process was tedious and time-consuming. Instead, we switched to store-bought… read more

We created a relatively hands-off roux for our Gumbo by toasting the flour on the stovetop, adding the oil, and finishing the roux in the oven. For the soup base, we started by making our own shrimp stock, but the process was tedious and time-consuming. Instead, we switched to store-bought chicken broth fortified with fish sauce.

Tasters preferred dark-meat chicken thighs to breasts because the thighs had more flavor. When it came to tomatoes and okra, tasters either loved ’em or loathed ’em in our Gumbo. We included both on the “more is more" theory.

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Serves 6 to 8

This recipe is engineered for efficiency: Get the roux in the oven and then prep the remaining ingredients. A heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven yields the fastest oven roux. If a lightweight pot is all you’ve got, increase the oven time by 10 minutes. The chicken broth must be at room temperature to prevent lumps from forming. Fish sauce lends an essential savory quality. It’s sold in most grocery stores in the section with the Asian seasonings; if you can’t find it, see the box at bottom right for substitution information. Since the salt content of fish sauce varies among brands, taste the finished gumbo before seasoning with salt.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, room temperature (see note)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (see note)
  • 4 bone in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skin and excess fat removed
  • 8 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
  • 2 cups frozen okra, thawed (optional)
  • 2 pounds extra-large (21-25) shrimp, peeled and deveined

Instructions

  1. 1. MAKE ROUX Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast ¾ cup flour in Dutch oven on stovetop over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in oil until smooth. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and cook until mixture is deep brown and fragrant, about 45 minutes. (Roux can be refrigerated in airtight container for 1 week. To use, heat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until just smoking, and continue with step 2.)

    2. COOK AROMATICS Transfer Dutch oven to stovetop and whisk cooked roux to combine. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining flour, garlic, thyme, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until dry, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth and fish sauce until smooth. Season chicken with pepper. Add chicken and bring to boil.

    3. SIMMER GUMBO Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Skim fat and transfer chicken to plate. When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces and return to pot; discard bones.

    4. FINISH GUMBO Stir in sausage and okra, if using, and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. (Gumbo can be refrigerated in airtight container for 1 day.)

    MAKE AHEAD: Gumbo can be made through step 3 and refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 days. To serve, bring gumbo to simmer, covered, in Dutch oven. Remove lid and proceed with recipe as directed.

Secret Ingredient: Fish Sauce

Widely used throughout Asia, this potent seasoning is made from salted, fermented fish. It lends depth and complexity to our gumbo in a fraction of the time it would take to make shrimp stock. In a tasting of different brands, we preferred Thai Kitchen, but all sauces were acceptable in our recipe for gumbo. If you have a choice of brands, buy the one with the least sodium. If you can’t find fish sauce, mix 1/4 cup soy sauce with 4 minced anchovy fillets. Add the soy-anchovy mixture with the garlic in step 2.

THAI KITCHENOur favorite fish sauce.

A Safer, Faster, Easier Roux—in the Oven

Long-cooked roux gives gumbo its toasty depth, but it requires constant stirring and carries the danger of splatter burns. We developed a quicker and safer alternative by pretoasting the flour and cooking the roux in the oven. To ensure that you’ve done each properly, match the flour and roux against the correct colors below.

TOASTED FLOUR

Barely Brown

COOKED ROUX

Like an old copper penny

Detail sfs gumbo 29 280025
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