First You Make a Roux...Redux

The okra is coming in, fast and furious from the Kitchen Garden...as are the Juliet and Roma tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. Check out the recent harvest! [You can read more about okra over on our Gardening With the Giants blog...click here to go there.]


Let's see...okra, tomatoes, green peppers, onions...that must mean it is Gumbo Time!

If this subject is sounding a bit déjà vu, you are right. I wrote about making gumbo last year in First You Make a Roux. You can read that one again, if you'd like...click here to go there.

Only, today, I simply don't have the time to stand over and stir a Dutch oven full of simmering okra stew ('cause that's what gumbo is...:-). Mainly because I'm standing over a kettle of boiling water, blanching more okra, more tomatoes, plus a peck of green beans...getting everything packed for the freezer. So the gumbo will have to develop all those lovely favors over on the other counter in the slow cooker.

Still, there's one step I won't forego for the sake of saving time: making the roux. I consider that an essential part of a true Louisiana-inspired gumbo...for that's where I learned to appreciate both gumbo and its namesake ingredient (the West African word for okra is "gumbo"), when we lived in Shreveport...and where I learned to make it, Bayou-style.

In Louisiana cooking, many recipes begin with the statement "First, you make a roux..." Several years ago, when in New Orleans for a conference sponsored by Mr. T's employer of the time, Idealease, I had the opportunity to attend a fantastic cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. We made Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etouffee, and Pralines. I still have the recipes...and use some of the techniques I learned that day. The very first thing we learned was how to make a roux...light, medium, and dark...since three out of the four recipes started that way.
So, to make our Gumbo, first you make the roux...



...and then you let the slow cooker do the heavy lifting...or, in this case, all the tedious tending.
 


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Sunday Supper Slow Cooker Gumbo

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons oil (can use part bacon grease)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups cut okra
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh, peeled tomatoes, like Romas
1 pod red pepper ( cayenne)
1 /2-1 Tablespoon seasoned salt like Tony Cacheries
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded, cooked chicken, like leftover rotisserie-style, optional
1/2 cup leftover cooked ham, diced, optional
Chicken Stock
1-2 cups shelled deveined cooked medium shrimp
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
Chopped parsley

Directions:
1. In a cast iron skillet, make a roux by combining flour and oil; mix well. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes or until mixture turns caramel brown. 
2. Add prepared veggies to the roux in the following order: onion, green pepper, and celery (stir for 1 minute); okra (stir for 1 minute); and, after adding a teaspoon of fat if needed, the garlic. Remove from heat. Put veggies in 3 1/2 to 4 quart Slow Cooker, set on High Setting.
3. Stir in all remaining ingredients except stock, shrimp, rice, and parsley. Cover. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to  low setting and cook for 6 hours. 
4. Add shrimp to gumbo mixture; mix well. If gumbo appears too thick, stir in some chicken stock. Cover; cook on low setting for additional 20 minutes. 
5. Serve gumbo over cooked rice, garnished with chopped parsley. Enjoy with French bread...so you can get every, last bite!

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