Day 2: Gather the fixin’s.
Day one is out of the way and now it is time to gather up the holy trinity, andouille sausage, crabs, shrimp, and everything but the kitchen sink as they say. In New Orleans, no one makes their gumbo the same. Tomatoes or no tomatoes? Okra or no okra? What is the difference between creole and cajun? What about, “how your mama and ’em make gumbo?” Well, here is how I was taught, so let’s dive into day two.
Growing up, I remember taking what seemed like then a long trip to the Westwego Seafood Market with my parents to gather up a few pounds of shrimp, a dozen crabs, and a tub or two of crab and claw meat.
It is nothing fancy. Always crowded during this time of year. Stepping out onto the gravel, there are shacks lined up side by side one another. The owners have their tubs displayed out front filled with the day’s catch. Fresh sweet gulf shrimp ranging from small to large. Redfish, trout, and snapper laid out as well.
There were mixed feelings about this trip because I knew a few of my favorite dishes were around the corner, but also a lot of peeling and deveining of shrimp was as well. Okay–so I am not talking a pound or two, but eight pounds and up! Everything on the holiday table contained seafood. Also, it was imperative to make that luscious stock with the shrimp heads and shells. No waste.
Roux is important but the stock is just as important. Gumbo is about building flavors. It is not necessary but if you are able to get shrimp with the heads on, you will achieve a more flavourful and deep rich stock if just shells were used.
Aromatics are the standard, onion, garlic, celery, bay leaf, black peppercorns, lemon, and thyme.
This list can go on and on. I’ve seen hot dog weiners in gumbo to chicken wings and gizzards. Really, everything and anything can be used. I like to use: andouille sausage, diced ham, chicken gizzards, pulled meat from a rotisserie chicken and tasso when available.
The holy trinity is the base used in a lot of creole/cajun dishes. It is our mirepoix. Onions, green bell peppers, celery and garlic. That is it.
The Set Up
You are one day away from making your big pot of gumbo. The roux is already made and now it is just time to make the stock, cut up your meat, pull your chicken meat, and dice up the holy trinity.
Day two is out of the way and the last day is right around the corner to make your gumbo process a breeze! If you are feeling confident, all of these steps can be done in all one day.
If you need catching up, here is day 1! Roux
Stock and Fixin's
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cups yellow or white onion cut in half
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot roughly chopped
- 1 head garlic, split in half
- 1 pound shrimp shells
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 lemon halved
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and devined
- 3 blue crabs cut into 4 pieces
- 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 rotisserie chicken meat pulled
- 1 cup ham, roughly chopped
Heat oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, leeks, and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp shells, thyme, black peppercorns, lemon and bay leaf and cover with 4 quarts of water. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 2 hours. Strain through a fine sieve into a container. Let stock cool , cover, and refrigerate.
Gather all ingredients and individually place them in their separate containers.
All meat can be stored together, except the chicken. Put that in last, we do not want it getting over cooked!