First, the ingredients, followed by Ron's instructions and my notes in orange type, and photos. For the full unvarnished recipe from Ron, click here.
Rainy Day Gumbo
Prepare in advance the following ingredients:
4 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ yellow onion (diced into ¼ inch pieces)
½ green bell pepper (seeded, cored, diced into ¼ inch pieces)
½ red bell pepper (seeded, cored, diced into ¼ inch pieces)
1 stalk celery (sliced lengthwise into quarters and then diced into ¼ inch pieces)
½ cup of ale (as in beer)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 Tbsp. Tabasco
1 12-inch length sausage (Smoked Hillshire Farms will do), cut into thin slices
1 large chicken breast (boned and skinned, cut into 1-inch pieces)
2 cups uncooked shrimp (shelled and de-veined)
1 clove garlic
Chicken stock (use a 26-oz. container of packaged stock from the soup section)
1 bouquet garni (in a piece of cheese cloth about 5”x8” place 1 tsp. each of dried basil, oregano and thyme, draw the four corners together and make a small ball, seal the top with cloth string or I use a trash bag twister; make sure not to use anything made of plastic)
In a 2 quart heavy sauce pan, put in flour and then oil and mix into a smooth paste. On medium heat, cook slowly for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the roux turns oak color. Be careful not to scorch; if scorched, start roux over in a clean pan.
I used extra virgin olive oil, which has a lower scorch point than other oils, so next time I will turn my heat lower than medium. I never stopped stirring it; it passed oak color halfway through and went straight to mahogany, but it didn't scorch.
When the roux is ready, add onions, peppers, and celery and cook until tender on the same heat. This will release the sugar in the veggies and the roux should darken a little more (about 10 minutes).
Add ale, Worcestershire and Tabasco and let cook while preparing the sausage.
Here was my ale choice. It's blurry because I drank the rest of it. Also, I cut the Tabasco to about a teaspoon, which was plenty spicy enough for my family.
In a separate pan sauté the sausage in a little oil and garlic; add to the roux.
Add the entire container of chicken stock.
I used two cans of chicken stock, about 28 oz. total.
Toss in the bouquet garni to the roux. (Bouquet garni is the French term for a bundle of herbs tied together and tossed into the pot.)
Okay, this is important. If you don't use a bouguet garni, and I didn't because I'm just not French enough, call your brother the chef and ask him how much ground herbs to use. He'll say "to taste," which Laurie heard as "½ teaspoon each of basil and thyme, and ¼ teaspoon oregano." It was perfect. BUT! Don't add this until the last 20 minutes of cooking! You can just cool your jets and get back to the hard stuff.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for one hour. The lower the heat, the better. The idea is to let the slow heat break down the flour and oil.
I have an electric rice cooker which usually takes 30 minutes to cook a cup and one-half of rice in 3 cups of water. When the hour of cooking the gumbo is up, I cook the rice.
Let's talk about how to use that hour, shall we? You could check your e-mail. You could sample more of the Celebration Ale . . .
. . . but you're not going to. You're going to de-vein those nasty shrimps. Unless you were lucky enough to purchase them de-veined (unlikely), you probably bought a bag of frozen shrimp. Measure out a couple of cups of them into a colander; put them into the sink and run cold water over them. You gotta strip the poo tube right out of those dudes or you'll be eating poo. Use a paring knife and slice right down their bellies stem to stern, then scrape the poo tube out. You'll recognize it; it's brown. I'm sure Julia Child or Jacques Pepin or ANYBODY could give you a better tutorial than this, but if not? Call me. I'll walk you through it.
While the rice is cooking add the shrimp and chicken to the gumbo.
This is also the point at which I added the herbs -- remember them? -- and the salt and pepper. Easy on the salt; the sausage adds a lot already.
Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes. Cool some and serve the gumbo in a bowl on a bed of rice. Oh don’t that good yeah!!!
It WAS good, Ron -- thank you SO much! And next time I'll start the process at 2:30 instead of 4:00. I'll double the recipe because it's really good as leftovers, and I'll listen to Beausoleil and Harry Shearer the whole time.