Gumbo with tomatoes, what did you say? Tomatoes?

I’m an adventurous soul and I enjoy good food. The one thing that doesn’t really appeal to me is to eat the same thing over and over.

The exception; now and again I will find a meal that just rings my chimes, but I didn’t write the recipe down, I’ll remember it. Ya, right. I made a cioppino that was to die for, a vegetation roasted lasagna so good the guests wanted to keep the leftovers. Not a problem my iron clad memory, and the fact that I got my inspiration from an internet recipe would ensure total recall, ya, for 10 minutes if I’m lucky.

And why can’t we ever find the internet recipe again, I typed in Roasted Vegetarian Lasagna the first time, or did I? Maybe I typed in lasagna with vegetables, or maybe I didn’t even type in lasagna, I probably typed in spaghetti with meatballs and the search engine found me the roasted vegetable lasagna instead. I’ll never know anything for sure, except it’s never been found again.

I digress, as this is about Gumbo, and the fact that there is only one way to make it, and that’s without tomatoes.  I should know this, I am married to a Cajun after all. I sat the bowl in front of her and noticing the tomatoes, she said ‘Tomatoes?’ I answered ‘Yes, tomatoes’ she started texting the question ‘Tomatoes in Gumbo?’  The replies from all those in the know ‘sacrilege’ . Goes to show what a group of western Cajuns know.

Now, if they had ever traveled east of Iberia they would have replied ‘Yes, tomatoes’. Point is that there are so many ways to make Gumbo you should never make it the same way twice. Like oysters?  Put oysters in it. If you are on a budget, keep it to Andouille and chicken, but if you need a stretcher, slice hard boiled egg into it. The only two things that you can’t do is burn the roux and not start over, and pass judgement before tasting.

Gumbo is technically a soup, although sometimes it’s thickened to a consistency of a stew. It’s always served with rice.

My tomato gumbo started with a cup of my prepared roux, heated until the oil was at hot, and then I added a package of my pre-made Holy Trinity and stirred till the aroma was heavenly. At the same time the chicken was sauteed along with a foot-long, homemade, Andouille sausage.

I then combined 1 quart of water and 1 quart of our homemade fish stock. What? You don’t have homemade fish stock? Then add a bottle of clam juice or just chicken stock to 2 quarts.

Now I experimented, as I found 2 cans of roasted tomatoes in the pantry as well as a can opener, and could feel Francene’s eyes boring into me. In they went. The eyes and the tomatoes.

Up to this point I haven’t added any seasoning because the Trinity was salt and peppered as well as adding garlic, making it really a foursome. I also had added the Andouille sausage that was loaded with our Louisiana seasoning mix and wine. To have added seasoning early on would have been dangerous. It’s hard to take out.

When the Gumbo was almost finished I added two pounds of shrimp and let it simmer a few more minutes. Here is where you would finally season to taste. We found it was already just right.

How was the Gumbo with tomatoes, well it’s all gone, so something must have worked. The Cajun, well she found a lot of Gumbo recipes that included tomatoes. She hasn’t apologized for doubting me though.

If you’re a Gumbo connoisseur then go to the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff in Iberia Louisiana every October.

https://www.iberiatravel.com/blog/article/8-gumbo-cookoff-secrets-success

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Louisiana Andouille Sausage, making your own or that store bought stuff

Hopefully the title will tell you what I think about that packaged stuff. In the past I have purchased off the shelf and it has always been disappointing. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that we decided to start making our own sausage, not just andouille but kielbasa, breakfast patties, stuffed pork sausage with jalapenos, the list goes on. Sure, you have to deal with casings, grinding meat and stuffing away, but the end results are sure worth it.

Sausage days are either when it’s gone and we need it or holiday meat sales. I was in the local supermarket and they had pork shoulder at $1.49 a pound, an okay price but to sweeten the deal it was buy one, get one. 2 little piggy’s came home with me.

One went into the freezer for some smoked pulled pork and the other for andouille.

I start by cutting the meat into 1 inch strips after removing the blade. Save the blade and all other bones for making your bone broth. You don’t make your own bone broth? Save the bones anyway and find some that does. Maybe they will share with you.

We use the greatest multi-tasker made, the Kitchen Aid mixer and a host of their attachments. It’s a great machine for the home cook. Grind the meat with a medium cutter and it goes pretty quickly. After grinding you mix in your seasoning. We use a slightly modified version or Emeril Lagasse’s Essence. We use 1/4 cup per 2 1/2 pounds of meat. You should then add 1/3 cup ice water (we use 1/3 cup red wine) per 2 1/2 lbs meat. Mix well and put back into the refrigerator for an overnight melding of flavors.

I suggest you start with Emeril’s Essence and then modify for taste or any other good Louisiana seasoning recipe. The secret to Andouille is like all Cajun and Creole cooking. Use what’s available and season to taste.

We cook with wine a lot, some of it even goes into the food.

  • Ingredients for Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
    2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    2 tablespoons salt
    2 tablespoons garlic powder
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
    1 tablespoon dried thyme

Day 2, set up the sausage stuffer and load your rinsed casing onto the tube. Although one can do the job, two makes it easier. We do a limp stuff instead of filling the casing, this allows us to tie off separate links (yes, we can spin, squeeze and reverse spin but it’s hard to get separate links that way). To help the casing slide off the tube keep dripping water onto it.

I like links around 1 foot or a little longer. When using in a recipe the 1 foot link is just about right.

Next comes the smoking, this is what makes or breaks the sausage. In the beginning I smoked the links at around 200° but the sausage cooked too quickly with getting enough smoke. Now it’s set for 160° and takes about 2 hours to finish. Perfect

No respectable Gumbo is without a good, smoked andouille sausage. Andouille may be substituted for many recipes calling for a smoked sausage such as the Spanish Paella and Jambalaya.

This is a perishable product and we do not add nitrates so right into freezer for these.

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