I recently joined The Daring Kitchen and am excited to say that this is my first month to participate in the challenge. Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. First I have never made gumbo, second I have never even tasted gumbo. We have this great little restaurant here called Yats and the gumbo is always the first thing they run out of. I always have the white chicken chili, (which I made a copycat of and my lovely daughter says mine is better..yeah) or i have spinach mushroom etouffee so I can’t even say that I have had the gumbo.
I can definitely say that making gumbo was an experience and I am going to be rather honest as to what mine was. First, it takes a lot of ingredients and they aren’t all that cheap. Second, just as they tell you the roux is the most important part and you better have all your ingredients cut, measured and ready to go, have your time set aside to be completely un-bothered and be ready to stand at that stove! I whisked and whisked and then whisked some more but as promised my roux went from a light cream color to a nice dark brown and then on to a silky brown when the onions were added (total whisking and stirring time 25 minutes) Here are some pictures as the roux got darker and darker and then with onions.
The next step was to add the chicken (cut in pieces, bone in) and stir another 10 minutes , then some broth, vegetables, etc and simmer for 45 minutes. (pic shows simmering gumbo of which I tasted the broth and it was pretty good if I can say so myself so maybe this was working out for the best)
Now I have to say that I cheated, at one point I needed to move my cut veggies closer to the stove so I asked the hubby to whisk for a minute. Well let me just tell you…I had been holding this stainless whisk for quite some time but to pass the honors I moved my fingers up to the top little “hangy” thing so he could grab the handle. After one turn of the pan he dropped the whisk in the roux, hollering about how hot the whisk was which was not funny at the moment but now we both have had some good laughs telling the story of how my blessed roux splattered all over the sides of the dutch oven, you probably had to be there lol. So….while my gumbo was simmering away I made the rice per their recipe (good but no better than the way I would have made it in the first place) and I whipped up some cornbread to go with the gumbo. Finally the 45 minutes were up, I added the final seasoning (and removed the chicken bones even though it didn’t tell me to???) and it was time to eat. Now I don’t know if I was just so tired because one “simple” gumbo and a piece of cornbread start to finish had taken away close to two hours of my life that I can’t get back or that there is so much hype to gumbo (Yats is always sold out and it is THE Cajun dish) but my first big bite didn’t just make me exclaim that I will make this over and over and over. The hubby like it, the daughter said it was thicker than gumbo she was used to and I decided straight away that from now on Yats makes more sense where gumbo is concerned. It would have cost less, tasted better, and taken up less of my life. So sorry Chef Besh, I am sure had you been the man behind the gumbo it would have wowed me. So…in summary..I love to cook, love a challenge, love to try new things but am honest enough to say when it isn’t on my list of “I can’t wait to do that again”. My family has decided that White chicken chili and jambalaya are a better cajun choice for them. Would love if you would share your gumbo experience with me…maybe you can convince me to try again.