Yummy authentic Cajun Gumbo!
I worked with a few Cajun cooks many years ago and I learned some great Cajun methods of cooking. Cajun food is like no other food anywhere else in the world.
The word gumbo is African slang for okra. File' powder is fine ground sassafras leaf. Native Americans used sassafras medicinally and to thicken stews.
The dark brown roux is what gives this gumbo a brown color. The Cajun rule of thumb for roux is: for dark meat - make a light color roux. For Light meat - make a dark colored roux. Be careful when making roux, because it can spatter and cause severe burns. To be safe, wear a long sleeve shirt and gloves if you are inexperienced at making roux.
Andouille sausage can be added to this recipe, but not every gumbo requires andouille sausage. Many gumbos are made with no sausage. If there is plenty of crawfish fat in the gumbo, them andouille is less likely to be added.
Cajun cuisine is like 500 year old French cooking. Cajuns originally came from France. The ingredients and methods involved in the making of a fine gumbo are a mixture of old French, African and Native American cooking techniques.
I once made a Bayou Gumbo (Alligator Tail, Frog Leg, Crawfish and Catfish) at a Luxury resort in Florida one time. The Swiss chef that I worked for, could not stop eating the Bayou Gumbo that had I made. He said it was the best food he ever tasted and he was a Swiss born French chef for 50 years! Now, that was a great compliment for Cajun Cuisine and my cooking skills!
Cajun Crawfish and Shrimp File' Gumbo Recipe:
This recipe makes enough for two bowls.
Gumbo takes about 2 hours to make. Have all the ingredients ready, before starting the brown roux.
Place 1/2 cup of small diced celery in a bowl.
Add 1 cup of small diced onion.
Add 1/2 cup of small diced green bell pepper.
Set the trinity vegetables aside. (The Louisiana trinity is 1 part bell pepper, 1 part celery and 2 parts onion.)
Heat a sauce pot over medium/ medium high heat.
Add 2 ounces of unsalted butter.
Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring.
Constantly stir the roux, till the roux cooks to a reddish chocolate brown color. (If you stop stirring, the roux will burn and it must be discarded.)
When the roux turns a dark brown color, immediately add the diced celery, onions, peppers. (This will stop the roux from cooking any further.)
Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
Add 2 chopped green onions.
Add 1 chopped seeded green serrano pepper.
Stir the vegetables with the roux, till they start to cook.
Add 5 cups of shrimp stock.
Stir till the gumbo starts to thicken.
Bring the gumbo to a boil.
Reduce the temperature low heat.
Add 4 ounces of thick half moon shaped slices of andouille sausage. (optional)
Add 1 diced Roma tomato. (The tomato is optional in a Cajun gumbo.)
Add 1 bay leaf.
Add sea salt.
Simmer the gumbo for 45 minutes and stir occasionally. Allow the liquid to slowly reduce.
Add 2 pinches of thyme.
Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
Add black pepper.
Add 1 pinch of basil.
Add 1 pinch of oregano.
Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. (Add enough to suit your own level of spicy heat!)
Add 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
Raise the temperature to medium low heat.
Add 12 to 14 shelled medium size shrimp, that are sliced in half.
Add 20 to 25 shelled poached crawfish tails and the orange fat from behind the crawfish heads.
Simmer the gumbo for about 15 minutes.
Add 3 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
Add 1 cup of thick sliced okra.
Simmer and reduce the gumbo for about 45 minutes.
Stir the gumbo occasionally as it simmers.
Cook 2 portions of plain white rice in a separate pot, while the gumbo is simmering.
The gumbo should have a medium thin sauce consistency.
Add water or shrimp stock, if the gumbo becomes too thick.
Use a stainless steel ring mold to place a portion of rice in the middle of a shallow soup bowl.
Remove the bay leaf from the gumbo.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of file' powder to the gumbo, while stirring, to thicken and finish the gumbo.
Ladle the gumbo into the bowl around the rice.
Set a warm crawfish on top of the rice as a garnish.
After one taste of this gumbo, you will be in Cajun seventh heaven! The amount of cayenne pepper in this recipe is a matter of personal taste. The deep shrimp and crawfish flavor of this gumbo is very satisfying. The gumbo presentation in the pictures is an old fashioned "plain Jane" way of serving gumbo. This is down home cookin'! ... Shawna