Traditional gumbo is a very good thing. I am not disputing that fact; I’m just sayin’ that if gumbo had been invented in the midwest it would have corn in it. Ya’ll down in N’Awlins might have the best seafood (when the Gulf isn’t full of oil), the okra, the scrumptious andouille sausage, but let’s face it, you don’t really have bushels of to-die-for sweet corn rolling in every summer. So I understand why you didn’t put it in gumbo–and now you understand why I did.
OK now that we have the over-reaction to my liberties out of the way, yes I put corn in my gumbo. And I would do it again by golly. It was terrific and matched perfectly.
Now to the other question: why gumbo in the summer? Good question (she says as she sweats over the stove). Alex received a Leap Frog Leapster 2 for her birthday, including The Princess & The Frog game, which includes a “cooking” (actually math skills) game with Tiana as you make a gumbo with her. Since receiving this, Alex has been obsessed with me making gumbo. She even sat in the kitchen with me and quizzed me as to whether I had all the right ingredients (I failed twice, first by making a chicken and sausage gumbo sans shrimp and then by not using tomatoes).
Ironically, I think I agree with Princess Tiana and next time I might add tomatoes (edited to add that I did put roasted fresh picked tomatoes in the leftovers and they were excellent–we all agreed we would add tomatoes to taste next time). But that is my own bias; John and I both agreed that this tasted just like gumbo is supposed to taste–plus corn. It should be served over rice, but the rice is mixed in in the pictures.
Smoky Chicken & Sausage Gumbo with Corn
Adapted from Crescent City Cooking, Susan Spicer
1 whole chicken or assorted parts (I used 3 chicken legs + 2 breasts), roasted and the meat shredded
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup bacon fat (you could also use chicken fat or more oil, but it will not be as smoky)
1/2 cup flour
2 medium-large onions, diced
2 sweet bell peppers (also unconventional-in New Orleans they would use green peppers but I much prefer the colored ones), diced
3 celery stalks, diced
12 oz andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups good quality chicken stock, plus extra (I used homemade but low sodium commercial is ok)
1 cup sliced okra
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
corn from 3 cobs, freshly picked
1 heaping t chopped fresh thyme
1 t filé powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce (I discovered last minute did not have and left out)
hot sauce to taste
cooked white rice
I failed twice at making a roux before getting it right. The first time, I ignored my own inner alarm bell and kept cooking it (because that recipe insisted on slow slow slow) and scorched it horribly. The second time I tried to use the chicken fat from roasting the chicken and discovered it was half chicken liquid. Tried to use it anyway–big mistake. So listen to your instincts and whatever fat you choose, be sure to use something that is 100% fat.
Be sure to have all of your prep work ready before beginning–this recipe is similar to a stir fry in that you will be chained to the stove making the roux and then you will immediately need the holy trinity veggies (onion, pepper, celery) and shortly after that, and more constant stirring, the sausage and garlic.
Choose a large, heavy pot. A Dutch oven is perfect here. Heat the oil and bacon fat up over medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk it into the fat. Continue whisking, reaching all parts of the pot, for 7-15 minutes (I am giving you a large range because my roux always seems to cook very fast, perhaps because my stove burns hot). You are looking for a deep peanut butter color–the darker you can get it without burning it the deeper of a flavor your roux will have.
When it is the appropriate color, turn the heat down to medium and add the onions, peppers and celery with a pinch of salt. Stir them in and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes (I switched to a wooden spoon at this point). Add the sausage and continue stirring and cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and then stir the chicken stock in, 1 cup at a time (add another hefty pinch of salt if using homemade stock). When done adding the stock, bring the gumbo to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and leave simmering for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, heat a small skillet over medium high heat (I used nonstick). Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and when it is shimmering add the okra. Sear the okra, tossing it, for a few minutes and then add it to the gumbo with the corn and scallions. Also add the thyme, filé powder, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste. Stir in the chicken; if the gumbo seems too thick add a little more stock. Simmer over low heat, occasionally stirring, for at least an hour. before serving check for additional hot sauce, salt or pepper. Serve over long grain rice.