It’s football season, and in my family, that means one thing: GUMBO! It is an indulgence but the good news is you can literally feed an army with one pot of Louisiana favorite and still have some leftover. It freezes well, so you can eat it all season long. This recipe comes from my baby brother Patrick and his wife Stacy – they founded Arizona’s only Mardi Gras krewe and they cook enough to feed 100 people every year at their parade.
Cooking Time: 2-5 hours
Pat and Stacy scaled back the recipe just for us. Be warned: It’s not written like a regular cookbook recipe, but it’s easy to follow and Rachael Ray said it was one of the funniest recipes she’d ever read. Enjoy and laissez les bon temps rouler!
Pat and Stacy’s Krewe of Helios-Arizona Gumbo Recipe
Serves 4-6 families
By Patrick and Stacy Bertinelli
TOOLS (in order of appearance)
- 1 penny – not a new penny or a bad penny, just an old one that’s been in your pocket for a while and doesn’t have any green spots or scum on it.
- 6-pack of beer or beverage of choice
- Long-sleeved T-shirt and your most comfortable shoes or clogs
- Your four biggest soup pots, or at least a collection of biggest vessels you’ve got
- Stove with at least 4 burners
- Several bowls to hold chopped vegetables and meat
- Trash bag
- Wooden spoons
- Frying pan
- All your Rubbermaid or Tupperware or plastic containers – WITH MATCHING LIDS!
For the stock:
- Skin, bones and neck of leftover Thanksgiving turkey or same from 2 store-bought rotisserie chickens
- 1 large white onion, chopped into fourths
- 2-4 carrots, cut in thirds
- 3-6 stalks of celery, cut in thirds
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 handful parsley, chopped
- Whatever spices you like to put in stock (rosemary, thyme, etc.)
For the gumbo:
- Meat from leftover Thanksgiving Day turkey or 2 store-bought rotisserie chickens, picked apart into chunks and put it in a big bowl on the side
- 8-10 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 6 stalks of celery, chopped
- 3 green bell peppers, chopped
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (canola, corn, vegetable), divided
- 1 cup flour
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 2 pounds andouille sausage, chopped in half-inch slices (grilled if desired)
- 2 pounds smoked sausage, chopped in half-inch slices (grilled if desired)
- 2 tablespoons (or more) kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (or more) freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (or more) cayenne pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bag of frozen chopped okra, thawed
- Instant rice (but if you insist on being a martyr, you’re welcome to do regular rice)
Dress for the Occasion: Put on your long-sleeved T-shirt and most comfy shoes. You’ll thank us later.
Make the Stock: Fire up one burner on high and dump all the stock ingredients in your second-biggest pot, fill with water, cover the pot and don’t watch it because you want it to boil. Put your third-biggest pot in the sink and put a colander on top of it. (Could this be foreshadowing?)
Do Your Gumbo Prep Work: Chop everything up – all of it. You won’t have time to do it while you’re cooking your roux, so open up a beer and start chopping. Put all the chopped vegetables, including the garlic in one big bowl. Put the sausage in another and the bird meat in yet another. You can grill your sausage if you like a smokier flavor before you cut it up, but it adds a little time to the process.
Check on Your Stock: By now, it should have been boiling violently for about 10 minutes. You can turn down the heat and let it simmer as long as it cooks for 20 minutes total. Finish your beer. Before you proceed to the next step, strain your stock into the third-biggest container in the sink. That’s what the colander is for – to strain the stock and catch the solids – and that’s what the trash bag is for, to contain all the solids so your dogs won’t dig them out of the trash. Suffice it to say, the stock should be clear of debris.
MAKE YOUR ROUX (the Most Important Part): First, you find your penny and another bottle of beer. Put the penny beside the stove where you can see it. Open your (second… or third) beer. Put your biggest pot on your biggest burner, turned on medium heat. Dump the cup of flour and cup of oil into the pot. Grab your wooden spoon and start stirring. Sip your beer. Keep stirring or else it will burn. You will rue the day you burn your roux because it will stink up your kitchen and you’ll have to start over. By the time you’re done drinking your beer, the roux should be the color of the penny. (But if you drink like Pat and Stacy, it may be after your second beer.) Regardless, you’re gonna stir for anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour – we always lose track of time – and this is where you thank us for making you wear comfortable shoes. Cooking times vary depending on the cooking surface – we use a cast-iron pot that cooks a little more slowly and evenly. We’re also using an electric stove, which is not my preference but we’re not running a gas line just to make a better gumbo recipe. We’ve used a stainless pot and it tends to burn in a hurry. The moral of the story is: You have to KEEP STIRRING and you have to watch your temperature. The flour mixture will go from vanilla to beige to caramel to dark caramel to penny. Do not stop stirring, and keep an eye on that heat – adjust downward as necessary, especially when you hit caramel-colored. Behold, the pictures:
DUMP YOUR VEGGIES! As soon as you hit the penny, empty all the vegetables into the roux-pot. Don’t wait! Dump and stir! This is where you thank us for making you wear a long-sleeved T-shirt because, along with random splatter from stray veggies, you’ll get a major steam up when the cold veggies hit the hot roux.
Don’t Panic: Keep stirring until the onions become translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add in that wonderful stock you made earlier, but only enough to cover the veggies. Give everything a good stir! Don’t worry if the roux separates and looks a little sandy, it’ll all come back together in a moment… After the initial blast of steam-and-stir, add both of cans of tomatoes including juice, plus sausage, salt, black pepper, cayenne, bay leaves and the rest of the stock – about 3/4s of the way to the rim – if you have that much stock and space. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer. Freeze whatever stock you’ve got leftover (see Rubbermaid, Tupperware, et al).
Sling Some Snot (or Let Good Times Roll with Okra): While the pot is simmering away, heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat with the rest of the oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add the okra to the skillet to heat it up. The okra will shed a slimy-looking substance – it’s OK, you can call it “snot.” Keep stirring until it starts to dry up and get stringy – about 10-15 minutes – just be aware that it won’t go away completely. You’re just trying to blow the okra’s nose so it doesn’t smear your gumbo.
Boil Some Water / Make Some Rice: If you plan on eating this now, throw your smallest pot on the least-splattered remaining burner and follow instructions for instant rice (or regular rice, if you’re a martyr).
Add the Okra, Add the Bird, Call it a Day: When the okra is done, add it to the pot and quickly bring everything back up to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer. Taste and decide whether you need more spice. Add turkey or chicken and simmer until heated through. At this point, the gumbo is basically done, but it will only get better the longer it cooks down (2 hours). Drink a beer to toast your achievement.
WORD OF CAUTION, Part 1: If you want to cook it down or won’t be serving it right away, be careful adding spices because it becomes more concentrated as it cooks down, and hold off on adding the turkey meat until you’re a half-hour from being ready to serve so it doesn’t disintegrate on you. If using a brined turkey, it’s better to err on the side of caution with the salt. (Note from Val: Pat and Stacy use a lot more pain / heat when cooking for themselves, as in, not fit for human consumption, but this recipe is pretty mild)
WORD OF CAUTION, Part 2: Remember, you eat gumbo with rice, but you let the individual person scoop as much rice and gumbo as they want. Do not even think about mixing the rice and gumbo altogether in the big pot. Then this entire exercise would all be for naught. When you’re done, store whatever is left (see Rubbermaid, Tupperware, et al) Enjoy. Laissez les bon temps rouler!