Food Talk

Gumbo Chronicle – Community of Ingredients

There is a lot going on in a pot of Gumbo. Think about it – no two pots of Gumbo are the same.

One pot taste as good as another, but each Maestro of Gumbo conducts a different song. Why? It’s the flavor profiles and how they're blended together.  It’s how your Mommy cooked it different from Grandma and still different from your Auntie. Yes, there is shellfish, chicken, sausage, roux, okra no okra. But there are two things that will not change – it is not an option. One – Gumbo is served with Rice. It is not cooked in the Gumbo, like Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo soup. Two – Gumbo is not a “bouillabaisse” - a French soup made from a “broth” that is never thickened. “Are we good?” - OK

Gumbo Community of ingredients

Trinity - Chopped Onion, Green Bell pepper, Celery – braised in hot oil, sweating out each flavor.  For my Cali Gumbo I’m going to switch it up and use Red Bell peppers and instead of Green – I got you.

Roux – flour and oil cooked to a paper bag brown or darker color. This color roux has a roasted nut flavor and brings a distinct flavor and body to the Gumbo.

Gumbo Filé  – ground sassafras leaves inherited from Native Americans.  Another distinct flavor that is also a thickener to the body of the Gumbo. File can be cooked in as a thickener or added as the finishing touch to the Gumbo. I also serve it on the side.

Shellfish – whatever you like. Most common is Shrimp and Crab. To pop out that shellfish flavor, I always use “dry shrimp” as a seasoning – because Mommy did it and I like it.

Okra – there really isn’t any other known vegetable that is cooked in Gumbo, except for the assortment of greens cooked in Gumbo Z’Herbes. Okra is also a thickener for the body of the Gumbo.

Sausage – some will say that Andouille is the Gumbo sausage. I grew up with a good smoked sausage. A few years back I found D&D sausage made in Louisiana and sold in East Oakland – Sausage types - Beef, Pork/Beef and Chicken.

Chicken – you got choices from bone to boneless, white meat to dark meat, turkey or duck – I prefer boneless thigh meat.

Tomatoes – this is probably the biggest debatable ingredient. I have enjoyed Gumbo with tomatoes. It was not a dominating flavor. Currently I’m not cooking tomatoes in my Gumbo.

When it’s all said and done – there is a lot of time that goes into making a Gumbo. Your choice of ingredients highlights your flavors.  For me Gumbo is love in a pot – the joy of living is eating “Gumbo” – see you at the table.