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Chili Diaries: Chapter 3, Your Average...Gumbo?

Posted Aug 24 2008 10:36pm

L ong time no speak my lovelies. I have finally returned and updated. I have been making simple dishes and recreations of old classics since my homecoming, however, last night was an updated classic. Okay so this isn’t exactly a chili but it has the essence of a chili to some degree and I’m on my Cajun and Creole kick again. Then again, when am I not?

Gumbo, for me, is simple, easy, and quick if you’re patient enough to wait thirty minutes for the flavors to become deliciously exquisite. I like my gumbo more along the drier side like my chili - I’m not a real ‘soupy’ person. I’m surprised I enjoyed the corn chowder when I made it last. Traditionally, gumbo has one or two meats such as sausage (either tasso or andoullie) and chicken, chicken and crawfish, pork, and very seldom beans. For the vegetarian variety, Gumbo z’herbs is served. In that gumbo there’s about seven different greens with the entire absence of meat. But for me, gumbo must have okra.

Yes - I acquired the okra upon my last shopping trip.

Okra is used as a thickener in substitution for the roux and file. You use either one of those three for a thickener and then serve the gumbo over rice but I happen to have corn on hand, so, I made fritters. They were good but I think I need to adjust the recipe a bit. The gumbo, on the other hand, came out perfect. I made a red bean gumbo, toying with the ’red beans and rice’ Louisiana specialty and I happened to have a can of them sitting in my cupboard. Next time I believe I shall serve it over rice or some other grain; perhaps millet! Also, instead of beans, I might just add some shrimp or make Jambalaya with shrimp.

Obsession? Well, I always get infatuated over New Orleans every once in a while and then cook nearly every single dish with a Cajun/Creole flare. I just can’t wait until the day I visit the big easy! Oh gosh, that day will be fantastic. I hope to go with my boyfriend, too. Going to a place that I love with someone whom I love the most - what more can one ask?

Red Bean Gumbo

¼ cup onions, chopped

¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup celery, diced

½ cup beans (any that you like; I also suggest chickpeas or black eyed peas)

½ cup Rotel (or other diced tomatoes with chilis but Rotel is more authentic; trust me on that one)

¾ okra, chopped

1 cup water or vegetable stock (or for a more tomato-y blend, add tomato sauce)

Apple Cider Vinegar to sauté

To Taste :

Black pepper
1 bay leaf
Cayenne pepper
Hot sauce (Use Crystal. We’re going for as close authentic as possible)
Italian seasoning blend (I used my grinder - it had thyme, garlic, and salt - perfect!)
Liquid smoke

In a small pot, sauté the trinity - onions, bell pepper, and celery - in the ACV until they are mostly transparent but not entirely golden brown. Add a bit of salt if you wish. Next, add the diced tomatoes with a little bit of water and let cook for five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients with enough water or stock to cover. Cut the heat to a medium simmer and cover. Let that stay for thirty minutes, while occasionally stirring. When the tomatoes seem to ‘bleed’ and the broth seems more red, adjust the seasonings and cook for about another minute or two.

Serve over rice or with a good hunk of cornbread.

No more words are needed to describe the gratification with this simple stew.
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