In my last post I mentioned that we were in the process of making gumbo, and I don’t think, at that point, that I could have imagined how wonderful the simmering pot on the stove would be. Oh my goodness, yes, it really was that good. Now, if you’ve never had gumbo, this picture may not effectively convey it’s awesomeness to you, but it’s making my mouth water. right now. mmm, I want more gumbo. okay, moving on.
Totally different from anything I’ve eaten before, gumbo is described as “a cross between a soup and a stew”. It’s thick and chock full of meat & veggies, and usually served over rice, but I chose to skip the rice. After browsing a small collection of recipes online, I decided to use a recipe Joe had made a few years back, with a few variations, out of Southern Cooking, by LeBlanc and Back.
Although the recipe is genuinely amazing as is, Joe mentioned that it may work just as well to double the amount of veggies, keeping the meat amounts the same (or keep the veggie amount and halve the meat…. either way, you get the idea). This would make your meat go further (a good frugal consideration), while still leaving plenty of chicken and sausage in each serving.
I’d made chicken broth the previous week, which I’d frozen, along with the chicken meat. So when we decided to make gumbo, I just had to take it out of the freezer and was set to go! Before I go into the gumbo recipe, here’s the method for chicken stock, if you’re unfamiliar with making your own. Homemade broth does take a full day, but it’s so worth it for the amazingly rich and healthy golden results. A few reasons to make your own broth:
–Nutrition & Flavor: Even the natural store-bought brands of broth are so watered down, in taste and nutrition, compared to what you make on your own, many of them are augmented with colorings & other flavors to make up for the lack of mineral nutrition. Brands that aren’t natural are likely to be full of refined salts & MSG. Yuck!!!
–Cost: Economically, it makes more sense to buy a whole organic, free-range chicken and use all of it. When you make broth you can then use the meat in all sorts of recipes, and you’ve gained excellent nutrition from the bones as well!
–Better Use of Resources: When you don’t use the chicken bones, you’re throwing away an excellent source of calcium and other minerals. When we choose to eat meat, we should do it responsibly, with respect for the animal’s death, and do our best to use every part of the animal that we can.
–Health Benefits: Homemade broth is full of gelatin, which greatly improves the digestibility of any meal that it is added to. It also aids the health of your bones & teeth, helping to strengthen them. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of broth, check out this article over at the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Alright, now for making the broth!
Homemade Chicken Broth
1 organic, free-range chicken, cut into pieces, plus any leftover bones you may have saved
3 stalks celery
1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
Put everything in a large pot, and cover with cold water. To get more calcium from the bones, you can let it sit at room temperature like this for about an hour, but that’s optional. Bring to a simmer; skim off any scum that rises to the top. Cover and keep at a low simmer for 3-12 hours (you could even go up to 24, but I’ve never tried that!). I usually try to go for at least 10 hours, but aim for 12 if I have the time. The longer you simmer, the more flavor and minerals you’ll have. When done, cool slightly, then pour through a colander. I usually pour the broth in a few different containers and freeze it. The chicken meat can be frozen as well or used within a couple days. It’s great in any recipe that calls for chicken! You can discard the veggies or just eat them. I eat them. 🙂
Gumbo (from Southern Cooking)
makes about 6 servings
4 Tbsp olive or corn oil
1/3 cup flour
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
2 small onions, or 1 large, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 lb fresh or frozen okra, cut into slices
1 oz andouille sausage
5 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
14 oz can diced tomatoes
Meat from 1 chicken, about 3 lbs, cut into bite size pieces
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, sprinkle in the flour, and stir to make the roux. Stir constantly for about 30 minutes (yes, it really does take this long. yes, it really is worth it.), or until the roux turns a hazelnut-brown color. If black specks appear, it’s burned and you’ll have to start again (thank goodness this did not happen to me!).
Add the chopped celery, carrot, onion, garlic, bell pepper and okra to the pan. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, still stirring frequently, for about 2 more minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the chicken meat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken to the pan, cover, and let simmer an additional 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
Gumbo is traditionally served over rice with Tabasco sauce.