Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day Gumbo

Sunday was Mother's Day
and I made my poor 75 year-old mother cook a big pot of gumbo for the family. I know, I'm a mean daughter, but she cooks an awesome pot of gumbo and I can't boil water.

Below are some pictures of the process. I don't have an exact recipe, Mama just kinda throws things into the pot and cook it until it tastes good. PS: I know this isn't baking, but the gumbo was cooked near the oven!

Step One: The Rue (the only hard part in cooking gumbo): Mix flour and oil and cook over medium heat until golden brown. Mama, says "Stir, stir, stir. Don't let the rue burn or you'll have to start all over again. Burnt rue can not be salvaged." Other words of Rue wisdom from Mama: 1) use a thick, heavy cast iron pot. If the bottom of the pot is too thin, the rue will heat unevenly and burn. 2) Mama prefers cooking a rue with oil rather than butter. Butter is prone to scorching and burning. 3) Never leave the rue unattended, not even for a minute. Stir and continually scrape the bottom of the pot to keep the cooking rue from sticking. Burnt rue is a terrible thing.

Step Two: The Seasoning
- Chop up parsley, yellow onion, green onions / scallions, and celery. Add that to the rue and cook until tender.

Step Three: The Okra - Gumbo has to have okra. Mama added three cans of drained okra and cooked the stuff for about five minutes. Note: Mama doesn't like using fresh okra because it tends to make the gumbo slimy.

Step Four: Diced Tomatoes - One large can of diced tomatoes was added to the pot. The gooey mixture was stirred and then allowed to simmer for about 15 minutes. Note: Mama added another smaller can later in the process because she "thought" it needed more tomatoes. "How can you tell," I asked. "You just can," she said.

Step Five: Ham - About 3 pounds of ham cubes were added next. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes are so, until the ham is nice and tendering (about 30-45 minutes. Usually Mama throws the ham into a pressure cooker and tenderizes the piggy pieces before they go into the gumbo pot, but she said she "IT WAS MOTHER'S DAY" and she didn't feel like dirtying another pot.

Step Six: The gumbo slurry was transferred to a VERY large aluminum pot and the liquid added. Then she added 5 Bay Leaves, and seasoned to taste with garlic powder and Cajun spices. Note: The liquid can be seafood stock, chicken broth, or just plain water. Today she just used water.

Step Seven: Add 1 pound cubed smoke sausage, and 2 pounds of hot sausage. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Step Eight: Add about 5 pounds of raw, de-headed and shelled shrimp. We like lots of shrimp in our gumbo! Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Step Nine: Added 1 pound cooked lump crab meat (picked over for shells), and some Gumbo file' and stir. Turn off heat and let rest for 2 minutes.

Step Ten: Sever gumbo over rice accompanied by crusty French bread. Yummmmm. PS: don't eat the Bay Leaves!

Sorry but I didn't get a photo of the finished gumbo artfully arranged in a pretty bowl (I was too busy eating). But here is a photo of the leftover gumbo going into plastic bowls for freezing. I don't know why, but gumbo is even better after it has been frozen and reheated.


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