Fat Tuesday I woke up and immediately set Pandora radio to Zydeco music. With the right energy pumping through the house, I was all set to celebrate Mardi Gras with a scrumptious pot of Gumbo. Knowing I was going to indulge in at least two gluttonous bowls of the rich Creole stew, I let the Zydeco music engerize each and every one of the 10,000 steps I needed to justify my Mardi Gras extravagance. Then, around noon I got a surprise text from the wifey letting me know she’d wrapped up at the hospital earlier than expected and was able to head back home in time for some Cajun celebrations. Well, laissez les bons temps rouler indeed!! Since it was turning into a Mardi Gras party for two, I decided spicy Bloody Marys were a definite must-have accompaniment for the Gumbo. Gumbo is a hearty, not-exactly-healthy meal but one of my absolute favorite dishes and since it a laborious, lard laden love of mine I only make it twice a year. I whip up this iconic Louisiana dish sometime in the fall as soon as the weather turns crisp and chilly and then annually on Fat Tuesday. I may live a thousand miles away from Louisiana now but my love for swampy bayous, spicy Creole food, and Zydeco music will never fade.
Crawfish Andouille Gumbo
1 lb Crawfish Tails
1 lb Andouille Sausage (sourced mine from Herman’s Quality Meats)
1 cup Roux, recipe follows
1 cup fresh Okra, trimmed and sliced
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Sweet Onion, chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tsp Fresh Thyme
2 dried Bay leaves
2 tsp File Powder, or to taste (I like a lot)
several dashes of Tabasco, or to taste
2 tsp Tony Chachere Bold Creole Seasoning, or to taste
4 cups Chicken stock
Salt and Black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked Basmati Rice, or rice of choice
Garnish: chopped fresh Chives, additional Tabasco
In a large dutch oven over med high flame, saute the Creole Holy Trinity: green bell pepper, onion and celery in a very small amount of oil of choice until the veggies have just softened and turned translucent, 3 – 5 minutes. Add the Andouille sausage and saute until just cooked through and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes more. Pour in the chicken stock breaking up any fond from the bottom of the pan then carefully stir in the roux until thoroughly combined. Next add in the Creole seasoning, minced garlic, bay leaves, Thyme, and Tabasco. Bring to a boil over a high flame then reduce to low flame and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, 20 – 30 minutes. Add in the okra and continue to cook an additional 15 minutes until the Gumbo reaches desired thickness. Turn off the flame and stir in the File powder and Crawfish tails. Cover the dutch oven with the lid and let the Gumbo rest about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked Basmati rice with chopped fresh Chives and Tabasco.
1/2 cup Grapeseed oil
1/2 cup All Purpose flour
small Cast Iron skillet
In a cast iron skillet, over a med low flame, heat the oil and stir in the flour. Continue to cook the roux, reducing the flame to low, stirring continuously until the roux is “brick red” in color (or the color of “chocolate milk”) for about 45 min to an hour. Turn off the flame and let the roux rest. It will continue to cook so stir occasionally until completely cooled. Add to Gumbo.
Note: if you have never experienced a dark roux, opt for a lighter color and remove the roux from the heat sooner. The darker the roux the more authentic the flavor, but it does have a very distinctive taste.