“If it doesn’t have salt, it’s not a margarita. If it doesn’t have okra, it’s not gumbo” –Taken from Tamiami Sammy’s journal during his travels with Jean Lafitte. Jefferson Parish, Lousiana
Bienvenue to the privateer Tamiami Sammy’s Blue Ribbon Gumbo Recipe.
Welcome to the wonderful world of slather. Gumbo has often been used as a metaphor for the medley of cultures that exist in southern Louisiana. The dish combines the culinary traditions of French, Spanish, indigenous tribes, and Africans, as well as Italians, Filipinos, and Germans. Thanks to Andrew Jackson for bringing them all into the fold. In the 18th and 19th centuries, people from these cultures lived together within a fairly small area with little mobility. This fostered an environment in which cultures could influence each other and meld to create new traditions and world-famous cuisine.
The establishment of New Orleans in 1718 marked the beginning of the French colony of Louisiana. French settlers allied with various native tribes including the Choctaw, Creek, Alabama, and Cherokee,from whom they learned new methods of cooking and ways to identify edible indigenous plants.
Ships carrying African slaves began arriving in Louisiana in 1719. The first vessels carried rice and men who were experienced in its cultivation. The grain adapted well to its new environment, and within a few years, rice was commonly grown along the deltas of the Mississippi River.
In 1721, a small number of Germans settled 40 miles from New Orleans, and introduced the art of making sausage. By 1746, the white population of Louisiana was estimated to be 3,200, with an estimated 4,730 blacks. Slaves would outnumber whites in most areas of Louisiana for at least the next half century.
The colony was transferred from French to Spanish control in 1762. The Spanish government actively recruited settlers for Spanish Louisiana. About 2,000 people from the Canary Islands moved to the area south of New Orleans. These settlers were mostly fishermen who soon began supplying large amounts of shrimp, crab, and oysters to the food markets in New Orleans. The Canary Islanders also brought a cooking style of using well-seasoned food including use of cayenne pepper. Spanish authorities granted permission for a large number of French-speaking Acadian exiles to relocate from Canada and northeastern North America to Louisiana. From 1755 through 1795, almost 3,000 of these settlers, soon known as Cajuns, moved to the areas south and west of New Orleans. Louisiana was returned to France in 1800, then purchased by president Thomas Jefferson in 1803. The southernmost part of territorial Louisiana, including New Orleans, became the state of Louisiana in 1812.
By 1800, the slave trade had introduced new foods to Louisiana, including the African vegetable okra, and hot pepper plants which came from Haiti. Onions and bell peppers were long part of cooking in both the Spanish and African traditions. Tomatoes were introduced to the region shortly thereafter. The beginnings of gumbo were slowly taking shape.
Gumbo (gumbeaux) is the ultimate fusion food. The roux is a French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either a word from a Bantu language for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo).
Visit this Dog River Gumbeaux article for extra tips on making roux and other recipe tips.
It’s been suggested that gumbo was originally made with okra. The use of filé (dried and ground sassafras leaves) was a contribution of the Choctaws and other local tribes. Roux has its origin in French cuisine, although the smoky roux used in gumbos is much darker than its Gallic ancestors.
Contemporary gumbos are made with all manner of ingredients in a variety of combinations. Seafood and non-seafood gumbos are two primary types, and they may be made with or without okra. But some gumbos include ingredients from both the land and the sea. Duck, smoked sausage, and oyster gumbo is one delicious example. Some cooks add hard-boiled eggs to chicken and sausage gumbos, and quail eggs find their way into other versions. Another version is the Lenten gumbo z’herbes, which is made with assorted greens.
Seafood gumbos often include crabs, shrimp, and oysters. Shrimp and okra gumbo is a f’sho favorite, as is chicken and okra gumbo. Chicken and sausage gumbo is extremely popular, and in the households of hunters, ducks and other game birds often wind up in the gumbo pot. Turkey and sausage gumbos appear frequently during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. An unusual but delicious combination is a gumbo of steak, smoked sausage, and oysters. Some cooks use ham or tasso in their gumbos, and others use fresh sausage in place of the smoked variety. The possible combinations are virtually endless.
Originally from western South American and Central America, many cooks use tomatoes in their gumbos. In that respect, the recipe is similar to Creole jambalaya. Tomatoes are most often found in okra gumbos, but this recipe for roux-based seafood gumbo contains tomato. Gumbos containing tomato are more common on the eastern side of Bayou Lafourche than they are farther west.
- 1 chicken
- 1 lb smoked sausage
- 1 Spanish onion
- 1 green pepper
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 package of okra
- plain flour
- 1 can white clam sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 T soy sauce
- 2 T worcestershire
- 2 T gravy master
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 T hot sauce
- red pepper
- black pepper
- Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
- white rice
- gumbo file
- Boil chicken with salt and pepper. Let it cool and save broth.
- Fry smoked sausage in small pieces until dark. Set aside with chicken.
- Saute onion, bell pepper, celery and okra. Saute until well done. Set aside with everything else.
- In a cast iron skillet, melt a stick of butter then add 8oz of plain flour. At any temperature but make sure you stir constantly until it's the color of a penny. Cool.
- Add everything into sauce pot including the chicken broth and cook on low.
- Throw in paprika, red pepper, black pepper, parsley and oregano to suit yourself.
- Add Tony Chachere's until it tastes like gumbo.
- If it needs thickening just add more gravy master.
- Itr's best to cook a half day but do not let the bottom burn. Refrigerate overnight to let marry.
- Next day; just heat it on low and serve with white rice and gumbo file.
Gumbo is always served with rice but that was not always the case. C.C. Robin, a Frenchman who published an account of his travels in Louisiana in 1803-1805, reported that gumbo was served with corn meal mush. This works, as served over polenta, but don’t be afraid to serve your slather over seasoned grits either.
Gumbo is typically divided into two varieties. Combinations traditionally common in New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana are known as “Creole” after the Louisiana Creole people, descendants of French and Spanish settlers, who lived in those areas. “Cajun” combinations were common in southwestern Louisiana, which was populated primarily by Cajuns, descendants of the French-speaking settlers expelled from Acadia (located within the modern-day Canadian provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) in the mid-18th century.
No matter which recipe you use, gumbo is a forgiving dish which to prepare. Ingredients such as meats and spices can be altered to suit the passions of the kitchen.
Keep nailtravels first in your hearts and address bars for all your cracker family recipes, travel and entertainment gibberish. Thanks for showing up.