Hattie's Classic Gumbo

January 07, 2017 10:46 AM

Chef Jasper Alexander of Hattie's Restaurant makes his mouth-watering gumbo with Dan in the Let's Eat Kitchen.

Shrimp, Andouille and Corn Gumbo

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First you make a little roux.  There are a slew of Southern, Cajun and Creole recipes that start with this phrase, and the Cajun style gumbo we make at Hattie’s is no exception.  For my money, the depth of flavor and chocolaty color that dark roux provides is even more important than its thickening quality.  Your reward for a carefully crafted dark roux is a rich and deeply flavorful gumbo. 

Generally speaking, gumbos are most often made with seafood or various types of fowl and game ranging from chicken to venison.  Most have andouille sausage or some other type of smoked pork product and fall into two categories:  Cajun gumbos, which are spicier, stock-based, and thickened with dark roux and sometimes file powder (ground sassafras leaves), and Creole gumbos, which are more delicately spiced, lighter in texture and flavor, generally seafood-based, occasionally contain tomatoes, and are typically thickened with okra.

This gumbo contains shrimp and tasso and the seasonal addition of fresh sweet corn.  It is more Cajun than Creole, but definitive lines between these two cuisines are hard to come by.

Note: Because roux is a thickener and vegetables are mostly water, it stands to reason that at the point when you add the vegetables into the hot roux, the whole mixture may start to seize up.  Don’t panic, turn the heat down to low, and add some extra oil a little bit at a time until the mixture loosens up. 

Yield:  4 quarts, serves 8-10

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups flour

2 pounds Andouille sausage, cut length-wise, and sliced crosswise, 1/2 inch thick

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped red pepper

1 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried oregano

4 cups tomato juice

8 cups chicken stock, canned or homemade

1 pound of large shrimp (16/20 count), shelled and cut in half lengthwise

3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped parsley

- Heat the oil in a heavy 8-quart stockpot over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Once combined, the mixture should look like wet sand.  Continue to cook over medium low heat, whisking frequently for about an 30-45 minutes or until the roux is the color of dark chocolate.  The darker the roux gets, the faster it may burn, so stay vigilant as the roux starts to darken.  As soon as it changes from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, pull it off the heat.  If the roux burns, the game is over, you lost, and you have to start again.  Now that you’re staring at a perfect dark roux, turn the heat down to medium low and return the pot to the burner

- Add the tasso and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the onion, celery, bell peppers and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes.  Add the spices and dried herbs and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.

- Add tomato juice and chicken stock and turn the heat up to medium high bringing the gumbo to a vigorous simmer while stirring frequently.

- Once the gumbo has come close to a boil, turn the heat back down to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.  This will ensure that the complex flavors of the gumbo have a chance to get friendly and any floury taste from the roux will have cooked out.

- Add the shrimp and corn about five minutes before you are ready to serve the gumbo.

- Serve over steamed rice and garnish with parsley and green onions.



Joel Landas

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