When a gumbo craving strikes, even the flimsiest of pretexts will serve to start a roux. One tossed around with abandon in this house is “gumbo weather” — any temperature dip below 65 degrees, at which point this hothouse orchid laments the long winter ahead and dons long sleeves, if not layers. A slight shiver may also manifest, which can be reliably removed by a large bowl, as anyone who’s had the gumbo sweats after eating too close to bedtime will tell you. (Guilty!) Other acceptable excuses for indulging include:
- The game is coming on (choose your team/bowl),
- I have all this chicken/sausage/andouille/game/seafood in the fridge,
- The rice situation is getting out of control,
- It’s Saturday.
While no rhyme or reason is necessary for gumbo, holidays demand it in some form, whether a hearty chicken and andouille version for Thanksgiving or a more celebratory seafood version for Christmas dinner. My parrain made The Best seafood gumbo, and one of my fondest annual Christmas memories is of hanging out with him in the kitchen while the gumbo was warming, catching up, and sharing a few off-color jokes.
How gorgeous is that bird? The stars aligned for me this year when Lawrence at The Wood Pit planted the idea to order a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving. His brisket, pulled pork and chicken wings are nothing short of amazing, so putting our dinner in his hands seemed a wise choice. And it was. While I knew that one turkey, no matter how small, would yield far too much food for three people, my ulterior motive was gumbo, so leftovers were welcome.
Once the remainders of the meal were packed away and our dear friend Mark was heading back to the city, I stripped the carcass of skin and much of its meat, broke it apart at the joints and started the stock. I’ve used Michael Ruhlman’s oven method of making stock for the past few years and it’s a complete joy, especially after two long days of cooking. I just put the bones in a large pot, covered them with an inch or two of water, then placed it in a low oven (180 degrees F is ideal, though my oven’s minimum 200 degrees F seems to work for me) for about 14 hours. I continued with the recipe the following morning to add a little flavor to the stock, then refrigerated it for a couple of days until I had time to complete my plans.
I based the gumbo itself on Donald Link’s recipe from Real Cajun and altered it for my purposes. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour for a gluten-free dark roux, but this blend doesn’t behave the way a roux with regular white wheat flour does. It darkens much faster (a wonderful thing, in my opinion), but doesn’t lose any of its thickening power as it does. I forgot this salient fact and used the full amount of roux which rendered a gumbo nearly thick enough to be a stew, but still delicious. I haven’t tried any of the other gluten-free flours for roux, but if you have, please leave a comment to let me know how you liked it.
We ate like kings for nearly a full week from this one pot, which seems to make it ideal for an open house this time of year, if you do that sort of thing. If not, you know gumbo weather is the perfect excuse to indulge.
recipe after the jump