A sudden craving for a bowl of delicious NOLA style gumbo could be a problem here in the Midwest. Not so much if you’ve stocked the freezer with fresh Gulf shrimp, homemade stock, and chopped veggies from your summer’s CSA bags. Add a few staples from the pantry, and you’re ready to whip up a bowl of coastal comfort in a hurry. Short on time, but long on flavor, this gumbo tastes like a labor of love.
Throughout his sales career, Ken has attended many tradeshows in New Orleans. He has many, many favorite places to eat when there, but his favorite gumbo is from the Gumbo Shop. When he discovered they had a cookbook, he had to bring one home. They have a wonderful recipe for Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo (for 8-10) that Ken has adapted for his own version of a Smoked Turkey, Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo for four.
Ken’s Smoked Turkey, Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
- 4 cups smoked turkey stock
- 1 1/2 cups smoked turkey leg pieces
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 8 ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 pound Andouille sausage sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 pound peeled shrimp
- One small bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon sage
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
In a large heavy skillet sauté the okra in 1 tablespoon oil for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all “ropiness” is gone. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the flour and make a dark brown roux, almost “mahogany” in color. This can take up to 30 minutes—be patient and stir constantly.
(Directions for preparing a dark roux, from The Gumbo Shop Cookbook. “Place the oil in the pot and send it over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour, making sure it is evenly blended and free of lumps. Continue stirring as the roux cooks and bubbles. The bubbles are an indication that moisture is being boiled out of the flour. As soon as the bubbling stops and the aroma becomes similar to popcorn, the flour is actually frying, and the rate of browning accelerates rapidly. In other words, pay very close attention from this point on.”)
As soon as the proper color is achieved, add the onions, bell pepper and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally until tender. During this process, allow the vegetables to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, then scrape the bottom. This allows some of the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, rendering great depth of flavor.
When the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes, Andouille sausage and sautéed okra. Continue cooking and stirring for about 15 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, basil, sage, peppers and salt and mix well. Pour in about 4 cups of stock, bring to a slow boil, lower the heat and simmer for one hour. Add the smoked turkey, shrimp, and additional stock if necessary and simmer for 15 more minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve in bowls over steamed rice.
Stocking the freezer is a full time job. Not that you work on it every day, rather any day when a fresh food opportunity presents itself. A visit to a specialty market, a bumper crop of local seasonal goodness, a good sale at the grocery. What you chop, cook, portion, label, and stash in the freezer over time can pay big dividends in the future. Just make sure you’re putting away quality product that you know you would enjoy for the kinds of recipes you love to make. Things you use often or in a myriad of ways. (Learn more about my freezer obsession in A Hunk, A Hunk of Freezin’ Love!)
Aside from chopping a remaining carrot or celery stalk, or the rest of an onion before you leave town for a few days, there are a couple of “carpe diem” food moments that lead to a gumbo-ready freezer.
We enjoy visiting the Findlay Market in Cincinnati, about 1.25 hours east. They have an amazing array of locally made sausages and smoked meats. (The cases of bacon varieties will blow your mind.) We like to buy Andouille sausages and juicy smoked turkey legs to freeze when we get home. We vacuum seal sausages, and small amounts of bacon, and toss them into the freezer. We usually buy one or two turkey legs, cut the meat from the bones, dice it, and vacuum seal it for the freezer as well. We use the leg bones to make a smoked turkey stock just as you would with chicken bones – with water, onions, carrots, celery, bay leave, thyme, salt & pepper. Once it’s cooked and cooled, we freeze the stock in two cup portion containers.
Every now and then I’ll see a Facebook post saying an AB Seafood/Gulf Coast Connection truck is “headed up north” to Madison, Indiana with a load of fresh-from-the-Gulf fish and seafood. If we haven’t placed an advance order, Ken will meet the truck, get in line, and make his selections – usually shrimp, scallops, grouper, snapper and/or flounder. Then it’s my turn to package the haul in smaller meal appropriate packages. Whether it’s a great day to grill out or a Friday during Lent, we’re ready!
So, here’s how the process looks up close!
One step of a gumbo recipe, and possibly the most important, is making the dark roux. Getting it dark enough is always a challenge for us because we’re impatient, and hungry, but it really makes a difference and is so worth the wait. If you follow the Gumbo Shop instructions in Ken’s recipe, it will turn out perfectly.
A couple of years ago, I bought Ken The Cajun Roux Spoon for Christmas. What else do you buy the guy who has everything?! When the recipe tells you to scrape the veggie bits from the bottom of the pan, I knew he would be well prepared with this gift.
I would also say that The Gumbo Shop Cookbook has two other recipes that are family favorites. Our son has made the Chicken Espagnole with us and loves it as much as we do. Our daughter is a huge fan of the Creole Spinach recipe (as we are) and makes it regularly. If we never try another item, the cookbook has been worth its weight in gold.
Last fall we went to New Orleans with our friends Lois and Tom from Kansas City. What a great time!
We enjoyed such wonderful food, including dinner at The Gumbo Shop, 5900 South Front Street. Casual, fun, and crowded as heck. Had to have a bowl of their gumbo – and it was almost as good as Ken’s! 😉