Gumbo Ya Ya
I would certainly be booed out of New Orleans for my interpretation of a gumbo ya ya, leaving out the essential bell peppers, but we are both allergic to them and the results of a pepperless gumbo were pretty outstanding. They even snuck their way into the flavor without being a irritant to my lips and a rash on my husband’s chest.
This is only my second attempt at making a gumbo, and there will be many more, but since it is a three species stew, I think it is best eaten in the middle of the day because it is so rich.
The first gumbo I made was from my tiny Lower East Side kitchen when I was living in New York, I had a few friends over for lunch and it is one of my best food memories in NY. Gumbo became the central theme of our belly-aching laughter that lasted until dark. I’m sure all of the beer that we drank helped with the laughs, but I will be sure to make it again when I am surrounded by friends. Sadly the friends who I would most like to make it for would be the first to boo me and cringe at the lack of peppers since they both live in New Orleans and know a real gumbo when they eat one. They are also the friends who gave me the recipe below.
Here is my friend’s original recipe with her notes:
Gumbo Ya Ya
- 1 cup oil
- 1 cup flour
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 4 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 quarts chicken stock
- 1 or 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce to taste
- 1 large chicken , cut into pieces (or leftover chicken, shredded)
- 2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2″ pieces (andouille is best but I used hot Italian when I couldn’t get it)
- 1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped (for garnish)
- 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
- Filé powder to taste (dried sassafrass leaves, if available)
If using a new chicken, season the parts with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you’re nervous about burning it. *If the roux burns, you’ll have to toss it and start over.
Add the chopped vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.
Add part of the stock, slowly, stirring thoroughly to prevent lumps from forming. Add chicken and sausage . Continue adding the rest of the stock. Add chopped tomatoes. Adjust with seasonings, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.
(I threw some shrimps and crawfish in mine for the last 10 minutes of the simmering, but that’s up to you and how crazy a gumbo you are looking for. Crab would be yummy too).
Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes. Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. Accompany with a good beer and lots of hot, crispy French bread.
YIELD: About 12 entrée sized servings.
Now here is what I did:
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp gumbo filé powder
- Creole Seasoning to taste (I have no idea how much I used)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste
- 2 whole chicken legs
- 12 oz. andouille sausage, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ pound of fresh okra
- ½ pound fresh shrimp (really ¼ because my husband is also allergic to shrimp, I cooked them in a separate pan)
I followed the process above, but when my chicken legs were cooked through and the meat was falling off the bone, I removed them from the pot and with asbestos fingers I tore the meat off the bone, shredded it and threw it back in the pot.
Strangely her recipe is missing okra, the recipe I read in Gourmet was too, so I checked in with her to make sure that it should be there, and indeed it should. She recommended that I throw them in during the last 10 or 15 minutes of cooking because they become disgustingly slimy if they are thrown in at the beginning of the cooking. She also said that if there were going to be leftovers that the okra would get really funky in the fridge over night, so eat it all, or set it aside before throwing in the okra.
I completely forgot the parsley and scallions, I am sure that would tie everything together beautifully and add a nice freshness to the taste.
Even though I cut the recipe down considerably from the original for 12 people, it was still an enormous amount of gumbo for two people, so before adding the okra, I set half of it aside to put in the freezer for another day. I will throw in some fresh okra when heating it back up again.