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FLORIDA GUMBO

FLORIDA GUMBO

A rich, flavorful shrimp dish that is slightly spicy and full of succulent shrimp, juicy chicken, and spicy sausage.  Serve with white rice and a green salad for a wonderful meal.

Gumbo has to be one of my favorite Southern specialties. It feels warm and comforting, nourishing and like a bowl of love.  Every time I went to Louisiana, I needed (note that it was a need and not a want. This is a crucial point.) a steaming hot bowl of gumbo.  

Bowl of shrimp, chicken, and sausage gumbo

I had chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo, alligator and crab gumbo, seafood gumbo, and gumbos with tomatoes and an unidentifiable protein, and adored them all. I ate my way through Louisiana by sampling various gumbos as I traveled across the state, noting what I liked and did not like.

Next, I bought cookbooks to learn how to make my own gumbo.  I practiced making a roux. I burned my fair share of roux, but there would be no jarred, store-bought roux for this girl! I also made pots and pots of my own chicken stock to get the perfect, rich flavor.

I taught myself to make a damn fine gumbo and served it to my friends and family.  They agreed. It was a damn fine gumbo!

Then, I moved to Florida.  Gumbo isn’t really ‘a thing’ here.  But, I’m on a mission to make it ‘a thing’ using local ingredients like Key West Pink shrimp, local white wine, and locally produced sausage.  

This recipe is my take on gumbo – from Florida.  This isn’t a quick and easy recipe. It has more steps to it than I typically like, but each step adds a richness and depth of flavor to the dish.  It is well worth the extra effort. I think you’ll like it. Well, I hope and pray that you’ll LOVE it! Drop me a line and let me know.

Bowl of shrimp, chicken, and sausage gumbo

TIPS ON MAKING YOUR OWN FLORIDA GUMBO

Now, I like my gumbo thin and brothy, but with lots of ‘stuff’ in it.  It really is personal preference. You could add okra to help thicken it a bit more.  You could also add a sassafras powder (Filé powder), which will also thicken your gumbo.

Another crucial part of making gumbo is the roux.  A roux is simply flour, sauteed in fat until it reaches a dark color.  For my recipe, I like a beautiful milk chocolate color. The dark-colored roux adds both flavor and color to the gumbo, but care needs to be taken when making a roux.

Plan on at least a good hour to make your roux.  Be prepared to stir for all of that time as well.  You have to keep the flour and fat moving to prevent scorching the flour.  If you have darker flecks in your gumbo, you burned it and need to throw it out and start over.  Don’t ruin your other, more expensive ingredients by using a scorched roux.

Also, when making your roux, use vegetable oil, shortening, or lard.  I’ve found that butter burns when making a dark roux, and olive oil or peanut oil separates from the flour and never fully incorporates.  I have no idea why, but it seems to be pretty consistent. I like using plain old corn oil for this recipe.  There are great chefs who swear by using butter.  It isn’t for me, but if you like butter, give it a try!

Be sure to chop all of your vegetables and sausage before you begin your roux.  You will need to toss in the veggies the minute you get to that lovely, milk chocolate color.  The vegetables will bring the roux temperature down and prevent those awful, little charred flecks.

Another tip for the best gumbo is to make your own stock instead of using a box of stock from the grocery store.  Of all the secrets and techniques I have learned over the years, this is one of the most important. Taking the time to make this wonderful broth, intensifies the flavors in your dish and takes it to the next level.

Make a batch of this luscious stock ahead of time, portion it out into quart containers and store it in your freezer. it will keep for many months. At any given time, you will find several quarts of rich, flavorful stock ready to use in a recipe.

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Bowl of shrimp, chicken, and sausage gumbo

FLORIDA GUMBO


Description

A rich and flavorful shrimp gumbo that will excite your taste buds and transport you to the bayous of the Florida Gulf Coast.


Scale

Ingredients

For the chicken stock:

  • 4 quarts of water
  • one whole chicken
  • 34 raw chicken breast halves
  • Two onions quartered
  • 4 stalks of celery quartered
  • 3 carrots quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 whole peppercorns
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup smoked sausage, roughly chopped

For the gumbo:

  • 2/3 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 whole red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds andouille, sliced in half vertically and then sliced into half moons
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Meat from one whole chicken, cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 4 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions

Instructions

  1. Make the stock.
  2. In a large stock pot, add all of the ingredients and bring to a low boii. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for an hour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to a bowl. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bones. Add the bones back to the stock pot and continue to simmer the stock for another 2 – 3 hours. This will allow all the flavors from the bones to flavor the water and wine and provide a depth of flavor and richness to the stock. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside.
  3. When the stock is complete, strain and discard the bones and vegetables. Reserve the stock until you are ready to make the gumbo.
  4. Next, we are going to make the roux. In a large heavy bottomed pot, mix the oil and flour. Stir well to fully incorporate the flour into the oil. Cook on high, stirring constantly. You will begin to see little bubbles start to form. At this point, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook and stir until your roux reaches a peanut butter color.
  5. At this point, turn the heat to low and continue to stir. Keep stirring. If you stop, your roux will scorch. The roux will need to cook and be stirred for about 45 minutes to 1 hour your roux to reach the perfect milk chocolate color.
  6. Now add the chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for 8 – 10 minutes. When vegetables are soft add the sausage and continue to cook, stirring for another 5 – 7 minutes. Stir in the Cajun seasoning and Old Bay seasoning. Stir to incorporate into the roux mixture.
  7. Carefully add the stock one cup at a time, stirring well between each addition. Toss in the bay leaves, white wine, and hot sauce. Simmer on low heat for one hour.
  8. Next, add the chopped chicken and shrimp. Stir and simmer for another half hour.
  9. Finally, stir in the chopped green onion. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit for 20 minutes.
  10. In the meantime, make a large pot of white rice to serve with the gumbo. The correct ratio to serve is 1/3 cup rice to 1 cup gumbo.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Serves 10 - 12

Need a little more help in making a roux?  Check out this great ‘how-to’ video on making a roux:

How do you make your gumbo?  What are your favorite things to add to your gumbo?

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