One of the reasons that I joined the Daring Kitchen was so I would be pushed out of my comfort zone, and cook dishes that are not on my radar. This gumbo is an excellent example. Previously the only time I had heard of this dish was in the song 'Jambalaya' by Hank Williams :-) Y'know?
'Jambalaya and a crawfish pie
And filè gumbo,
I'm gonna see by ma cher amio
Fill fruit jar
And be gayo
Son of a gun,
We'll have big fun
On the bayou'
Except my gumbo wasn't the filè one - I used okra instead. And well, no one is too young for a little Hank Williams ;-)
Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
So I did. I kept it vegetarian, as I didn't have shrimp, and didn't feel like going out to get it. Plus this is, to some extent, a labour intensive dish, at least until the roux is done. Once that's done, and all the vegetables are added, then it sits and simmers, and I had time to clean the kitchen before dinner.
I served the gumbo with plain rice, as I was pretty tired, and didn't feel up to making the Louisiana white rice that Denise recommends.
I adapted the recipe a little bit. I used canola oil for the roux, and caramelised my onions before adding them to the roux. I used a combination of sweet and white potatoes instead of the shrimp, and doubled up on the okra. And I used vegetable stock, that I had previously made and frozen. Other than that I didn't vary from the recipe much. When the gumbo was cooking, my kitchen just smelt amazing!
Now this was the disappointing bit for me. I didn't like it very much, because it felt like it had a slightly bitter undertone. Kay, on the other hand, LOVED it... so much so that he went back for thirds, and then finished the pot the next day - and Denise's recipe makes a lot of gumbo.
I am not going to post the recipe, and would really suggest you head over to Denise's blog here, and drool over that yummy looking gumbo. I am going to make this gumbo again, because I really really don't like failing at anything (well, technically it was not a fail, as Kay adored it) but I want to be able to enjoy it as well. So next time I think I will make a lighter roux, as I think it will take away the bitter undertones.
Well, after all, this was why I joined the Daring Cooks, and this recipe sure pushed me out of my complacency... and taught me that I cannot expect a perfect dish the first time, and practice really is the key to perfection!