All about GUMBO!
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
I have been craving Gumbo for weeks now, SO, I am making Gumbo! Truth be told, I was planning it for the celebration that is Carnival…even though I missed Fat Tuesday and all because I couldn't get okra! Well, I finally my order finally came in so I'll be making a batch, come in to get yours.
If you’re not familiar with gumbo, let me give you a little history. If you're not familiar with Okra – stay engaged and you’ll get that knowledge drop too… Gumbo is the official dish of Louisiana. Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana in the 18th century. It was first mentioned in 1802 by a Harvard librarian who raved about a dish he experienced while on a trip through Louisiana, where a thick soup made with shrimp and okra was served over rice.
Gumbo combines ingredients and the culinary techniques of several cultures, including French, German, Spanish, West African and the native Choctaw Indians. Gumbo’s roots are tied directly to the history of the land. As slaves were brought from West Africa to work on plantations, they brought with them some of the foods and ingredients that reminded them of home. The French influence in the area took hold and brought methods of sauces and knowledge of sausage-making and spices acquired via Spain. In other words, Gumbo truly is a melting pot of cultures.
Gumbo can vary depending upon the area of Louisiana where you are partaking of the delicacy. In New Orleans (properly pronounced “Nawrlens”) you will find Creole Gumbo, which typically consists of shellfish, most commonly shrimp or crab (although crayfish and oyster-laden versions spring up around the colder water months). Cajun Gumbo will consist of chicken or duck, Tasso ham and andouille sausage.
Tradition frowns upon the mixing of meats with shellfish and disrupts true Bayou beliefs. Traditionally, gumbo will enlist the flavoring attributes of the “Holy Trinity,” a signature of Creole and Cajun cooking consisting of diced celery, onion and green bell pepper. This combination is cooked in a uniquely thickened stock that is dark and mud like in color and consistency. Another differentiation between Cajun and Creole gumbo is that the Cajun version depends solely on two key ingredients of gumbo - okra and gumbo filé to thicken its stock. Filé powder, as it is generally known, is a fine powder of ground sassafras leaves. This powder not only thickens the stew but adds a distinct flavor that is gumbo and is introduced at the end of the cooking process. Okra is a West African flowering plant in the mallow family and the edible seed pods are primarily used in stews such as gumbo. These pods contain a slimy, almost mucus-like substance that thickens while cooking.
The Creole version uses both okra and the file powder, but also commissions a dark roux to thicken and flavor the stew. Roux is a classic French term for a combination of flour and fat, generally butter, cooked together and used to thicken soup and sauces.
Roux can be prepared in three stages:
White, which is very lightly cooked but has the most thickening power and lightest flavor; blonde, which refers to the color achieved by allowing the flour to toast and take on a tan color, giving a slightly nutty flavor to the substance being thickened; and brown, in which case the butter and the flour both toast to a dark, almost milk chocolate-like color, with deep hazelnut, or dark toasted bread.
Brown is the weakest in thickening power but the most flavor-enhancing of the three versions. Although many Cajun foods can be very spicy, gumbo usually is not prepared spicy, the spice is added to the topping with hot sauces like Crystal or Tabasco and traditionally gumbo is served over rice. I have seen a number of variations to gumbo, including gumbo made with no meat or shellfish. When Catholics were expected to abstain from eating meat during Lent, a meatless variety was often served. This variety combines a large number of leafy greens, typically including turnips, mustard greens, collards and spinach. I once served a spectacular Mushroom Gumbo that used no meat and may be one of the best versions I have ever tasted. With all that said, the Gumbo you’ll find in the Grab-n-Go fridge this weekend has Corvis Farms
Duck, Tasso Ham, Andouille Sausage and Shrimp, made with a deep dark roux… If you know me at all, you know I like to break the rules and buck tradition!
If you didn’t get to try one of the Denver Steaks I brought in last week, you're in luck. They were so popular that they were gone by Friday afternoon. So I have brought in more of the Mishima Ranch Ultra Wagyu Denver Steaks and have a recipe here for your enjoyment. A delicious and easy Steak Au Poivre… This recipe would traditionally call for a couple filet mignons, so I will have those cut and ready as well. But give these Denver Steaks a ride and I am certain you’ll be making them a regular part of your repertoire. Making it easy… I have built mixed peppercorn packs and our veal demi is reduced and ready for you to grab and prepare a sensational bistro experience at home! Remember that you can always pre order for pick up everyday except Sunday and then you increase your chance of not missing out.
And speaking of pre orders, this Friday by 6pm is your last chance to get your order in for the St. Patty’s Day goodies. If you miss out, you won't have to worry about wearing green on March 17th… you’ll be green with envy, watching social media blow up about the 12 Day brined Corned Beef, Steak & Guinness Pie and the Colcannon. Don’t wait, order online at themeatery.us, “place my order” and follow the link and we've also got a great new menu this week for Fried Chicken Friday! Get excited for Chicken & Waffles! See the menu and link to get your order in below.
Thank you for the continued support!
See ya at the Counter!