We love New Orleans and have visited there three times in the past nine years. We love it all…the food, the art, the architecture, the culture, the music. Ah, the music. I remember the last time we were there I made a Facebook post that read: Three things I love about New Orleans. 1) In the bars, there are no televisions, it’s all about the music. 2) In the bars, no one is on their cell phone, it’s all about the music. 3) In the bars, no one is talking loudly to each other, it’s all about the music.
The last time we were in New Orleans was the week after our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding, which happened to be Thanksgiving. All of our family had been at the wedding, so we decided to do something very non-traditional and do a weekend getaway for the holiday. New Orleans was our other daughter’s idea since she was tired of us telling her how much we knew she would LOVE the city as much as we did. Our Thanksgiving day began with beignets at Café De Monde and dinner ended up being New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp (that’s another post) and Gumbo at another amazing restaurant. It was perfect.
One of the things that has been on my New Year’s resolution list the past few years, and my New Normal List (it’s the same as my resolution list), is to be more adventurous in the kitchen. In The Magnolia Cookbook, Joanna Gaines talks about her journey in the kitchen and says that Chip always tells her, “If you mess up, there’s always pizza.” Truth.
Earlier this week, I decided I was going to make my first attempt at Gumbo. There are two reasons why this was an intimidating idea. One, my husband LOVES Gumbo and at least once a week he goes to a diner close by that is owned by Cajuns just to get their Gumbo. And the second, one of my dearest friends here is from Lafayette, LA and I’ve had her Gumbo. Simply Amazing. But I won’t be intimidated, and I found an Authentic New Orleans Style Gumbo recipe. My neighbor, whose mother is from New Orleans, offered me her mom’s recipe that began with “Make a roux.” Seriously, this again? I need instructions. Yes, my Cajun friends are laughing their heads off right now.
I’m one of those people who hates reading directions, but I’ve learned that for cooking, my best success comes from reading the entire recipe first, which is what I did. I quickly figured out that this was going to have to be a rainy day project because it was going to take some time. Making the roux itself takes 30-45 minutes and then there is a LOT of slicing, dicing, and chopping to do. Honestly, I could have flown to New Orleans for the amount of money I spent on ingredients.
Yesterday, I got my cold rainy day. When my husband left for work, he looked at me and said, “So we’re having Gumbo for dinner?” to which I replied, “Or pizza.” I knew it was going to be a long morning, so the first thing I did was turn on my iTunes and let it play. Ever so often a Christmas song would pop up, which was just fine. So away I went chopping, dicing and slicing onions and peppers and celery and parsley and shrimp and chicken and Andouille sausage and stirring the roux, and stirring the roux, and stirring the roux. The recipe warned about “stirring the roux constantly, not letting it burn, getting the color and consistency right, and that it would take 30-45 minutes.” There was no mention of making sure you went to the bathroom before you began making the roux. Good thing I read those instructions ahead of time. I’ll admit that despite that most Cajun recipes begin with, “First you make a roux”, I prepared all of the other ingredients first, so when the roux was ready, everything was ready to be added to it. I know, I did it wrong. I’m not sorry.
The author of the recipe said the Prep time was 20 minutes, Cook time 1 hr, Total time 1 hour 20 minutes. What? A little over four hours later and a little Voodoo thrown in for good measure, my gumbo was ready. We had it for dinner, I didn’t have to order pizza, and my husband gave it a thumbs up. He took his lunch to work today.