My family is by no means from the south. We are from the very southern tip of Indiana, so close to Kentucky that we can see it as we drive down the Ohio river front. We are as midwestern as they come-we dip our food in ranch, apologize when other people bump into us, and I’ve slipped and said ‘warsh cloth’ more times than I’d like to admit. All this being said, where my husband got his love for Southern food is beyond me. When I meal plan he will always throw me a curveball and ask for recipes that are decidedly outside of my wheelhouse. In the last 2 months I’ve made crawfish AND gumbo for that man, and I had never had either one in my life before! So how does a midwestern girl take on gumbo? By finding several recipes and tweaking them to fit what her Hoosier born palate enjoys. And resisting the urge to put a little ranch on it.
First I prepped my ingredients. I knew the roux would need my attention once I started it, so I wanted all my ingredients ready to go. I used:
*2 carrots, peeled and diced
*1 green bell pepper, diced (I know there’s 2 here…I just used one)
*1 small onion, diced
*kielbasa sausage, sliced (I bought a family pack and used half for this recipe)
*1 container beef broth (you could use chicken, but this is what I had on hand and it was delish!)
*1 bag frozen cooked shrimp
*4 Tbsp butter
*4 Tbsp flour
*1/2 tsp garlic powder
*1/2 tsp onion powder
*1 tsp Cajun seasoning (you can add more for more spice, but my kids won’t do spicy so we keep it mild)
*Salt & Pepper to taste
**I know there’s mined garlic in this photo, but I ended up not using it. Clearly I’m winging it as I go!**
Once your prep work is done, start your roux. Over medium low heat melt your butter in a stock pot. Once melted, add your four and start stirring! Keep stirring until you get a nice smooth texture. Once smooth, it will be a very pale tan color. Be sure to keep stirring and letting it cook until you get a soft brown. You can cook this until you get a deep chocolate color, but it can be time consuming! Also, this can burn easily so watch your heat and keep the roux moving.
So this picture doesn’t do the color justice, but I was able to get it to a nice soft peanut butter brown. Like I said, you can take it further, but keep in mind your gumbo will cook for an hour or so, so keep an eye on how much time you have to work with.
Once my roux was a nice color, I threw in my chopped veggies. I turned the heat up to medium and allowed them to cook until soft, stirring fairly often.
Add in your sausage! You can also brown up the sausage in a separate pan and then add it to the veggie mixture, but that’s just another pan to clean in my book. We all know how I feel about dishes. Let this cook together for a few minutes.
Now add your broth and turn it down to a simmer. Give it a good stir and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
Now it’s time to add in your spices. The smells you are going to have in your kitchen will probably have your kids and husband asking you every 5 minutes if dinner is ready yet.
Now put in your shrimp. Bring the pot to a boil for about a minute or 2, then reduce to simmer and cover. Simmer for an hour (or longer if you’ve got the time!) This is prime time to clean the kitchen, start kid bathes, drink a glass of wine….whatever floats your boat.
Serve over rice and you’ve got yourself a meal! Be sure to get lots of that brothy goodness in your bowl. This picture is staged for the ‘gram, but you better believe I added more broth before diving in! The kids devoured it as is and my husband and I added a few dashes of hot sauce. I think the fact that he ate 2 bowls that night and had it for leftovers 2 more times is proof enough that this midwestern girl did the damn thing!