Gumbo Van Horn

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A rumor I started myself to the contrary, my gumbo recipe is not a secret. (But my chili recipe is was.) Since I have shared it before, I will be happy to share it again.

Here is how I came up with this recipe. (For some further background on how I developed my recipe, see this post.) Since I am not from Louisiana, I enlisted the aid of several friends and acquaintances who were to develop this recipe over the span of several years. I used my mother's recipe as a starting point, but mine doesn't much resemble it any more. Why? Her gumbo was fine, but I wanted to learn how to make that rich brown stuff I had in New Orleans. The presence of tomatoes and okra are the main marks she left on my recipe. (The Louisiana folks would say that the tomatoes made it "interesting.")

My gumbo, if I correctly remember an article about gumbo I read years ago, is a funky hybrid between the Creole and Cajun varieties. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall tomatoes being a mark of the Creole variety and roux of the Cajun. (In fact, please correct me if I'm wrong. I hate not knowing things! And a note on the "gumbopages" web site: I just learned of it tonight. Good thing. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come up with this recipe!)

In any event, this recipe has been ratified with unsolicited compliments, recipe requests, and cries of "Who made this?" by many party-goers. (The parties, I admit, did take place in Texas.) It has passed muster with a Cajun friend of mine. But it is not necessarily complete. Should you make it yourself and have a good idea, or you're from Louisiana and see a glaring omission, comment below or email me. Why let a stubborn refusal to learn or change interfere with good eating? I'd love to have the feedback.

Here's my recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

(This page provides contact information for purveyors of Cajun/Creole ingredients, for any poor souls out there who can't find any of the more exotic ingredients locally.)

1. Dissolve 2-3 tbsp dark roux in 3 1/2 cups water per instructions on jar. (If you're a purist or a masochist, the link provides instructions for making your own.)

2. Fry 2 strips bacon and save drippings.

3. Fry 1 small to medium chopped white onion in the bacon drippings. Finely chop the bacon.

4. Add to the dissolved roux:

a. the bacon
b. the onions (Drain if necessary.)
c. 1/2 cup corn
d. 1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
e. 1 can Ro-tel (tomatoes and green chili peppers)
f. 1/2 tsp salt
g. 1 cup white wine
h. 1 cup sliced okra
i. 1 bay leaf
j. 1 tsp basil
k. at least 1 tsp garlic
l. 1 tbsp oregano
m. 1/3 - 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced. (Polish sausage will do in a pinch.)
5. Simmer for 30 minutes. If desired, start cooking rice.

6. Add 1 pound pre-cooked and deveined crawfish tail meat (if using crawfish), 1 pound precooked and deveined shrimp (if using shrimp), or 1 pound shredded pre-cooked chicken meat (if using chicken -- I use dark meat.).

I usually use 2 of these. If you use all three, increase the seasonings and vegetables a little. I used rabbit once and that was fine. If you're not using crawfish, what's wrong with you? Any meat or seafood you use should be pre-cooked.

7. Add 1 tsp gumbo filé (scroll down), premoistened in a small amount of cold water. Let sit for 15 minutes.

8. Enjoy! Serve over rice if desired.

-- CAV


Today: Specified that any meat should be pre-cooked. Raised amounts of some ingredients to match what I really use. (This had been copied from an old email.)

3-16-06: Unveiled the recipe for Chili Van Horn, making it no longer a secret.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dat do sound soo good!