I made two discoveries this week when I agreed to make a big vat of gumbo for the teachers' luncheon. First, that you can bake the roux and it's way more convenient than standing over the stove and stirring for 30 minutes. Second, the Zest Coast Carolina seasoning blend has pretty much everything I need for what had been a process of pulling out about a dozen spice bottles every time I made gumbo. The Zest Coast Savory Blast also added a nice savory Cajun undertone, that again saved me digging out four Italian-flavored seasonings. Add some Zest Coast Cannon Fire if you want to heat it up!
For this one I used andouille sausage, chicken and some scallops I had on hand that needed to be used up. But gumbo is so versatile. Add shrimp, crab or whatever you like. Use only sausage or chicken. Use what you have.
Oh, and one more discovery: Teachers love gumbo and I'm not above bribing them to like us the most. This is a great dish to make for a crowd because you can make it as large or as small as needed.
For the roux (equal parts fat and flour)
--1 stick (1/4 cup) butter
--1/4 cup canola oil
--1/2 cup flour
For the gumbo
1 lb andouille sausage (you can substitute kielbasa or any smoked sausage you like)
2 chicken breasts (or 4 thighs) cut into cubes
optional - 1 lb shrimp or scallops (or both!)
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Zest Coast Carolina spice blend
2 tsp Zest Coast Savory Blast (can substitute Italian seasoning)
1 tablespoon paprika
2-3 cups cooked white rice
Fresh parsley for garnish
Gumbo is a two-step process. First the roux, and then all the chopping and shrimp cleaning so you can tend to the pot. If you are smart and bake the roux in advance, you can have this ready in about 30 minutes.
To make the roux
You can stand at the stove and put equal parts flour and fat in the pan and stand there for 30 minutes stirring until it's the color of peanut butter. Or you can try this much easier method:
Place equal parts flour and fat (bacon drippings, butter, canola oil) into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process. (It took me about an hour to get it to the nice peanut butter color I like, some like a darker roux) I doubled the amount I needed so I'd have extra roux on hand for next time. You can freeze it
Cook sausage over high heat in Dutch oven 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon but use the drippings to make the roux. Roux is made with equal parts fat and flour. So add equal parts fat (bacon drippings, butter, canola oil) and equal parts flour. Stand there and stir this so it doesn't burn. It takes about 10 minutes to start bubbling, so put on some music and have a cold drink. Keep stirring until the roux is the color of peanut butter.
To make the gumbo
Cook the sausage on medium high heat in a Dutch oven for about 5 minutes. Add the roux and let heat up. Add onion, celery and bell pepper and chicken( (if it's uncooked, you can save time by using cooked chicken) and saute for 2-4 minutes. Add the spices and keep stirring. When the veggies are wilted, add the broth and stir until it's nice and thick. Let the mixture simmer. When you are about 5 minutes away from serving dinner, add the shrimp and/or scallops and simmer until the seafood is cooked, about 4 minutes.
Serve over rice and garnish with fresh parsley.