Wednesday, February 10, 2010


When we started this blog back in the summer, we never really expected it to go much of anywhere. We were bored, to be honest. I had graduated from Wittenberg University, Matty was out of school for the summer, and we hadn’t written much of anything for a while. Never did we think we'd post anything that could be considered overly useful let alone “timely”.

Oh, how we’ve grown. *sniff*

If you watched our Chicken Crab Valentine video, you know that we assigned February a theme: Soup Month. Unlike Austrian Month where we actually created a few Austrian dishes before becoming simply too lazy to post our findings, this month we fully intend to follow through on our promise. Today's dish IS a soup of sorts: Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo.

Our decision to feature gumbo, when combined with our previous arbitrary selection of jambalaya, might lead one to believe that we possess some semblance of clairvoyant powers. Pursuing two of New Orleans’ most iconic dishes directly prior to the Saints upset victory against the favored Colts in the Super Bowl last week does seem suspicious. Can it be that we truly have the gift of future sight?

I wish. Or maybe I don’t wish. What if the future is a terrible place and knowledge of its existence sank us so deeply into a pit of depression that we never wrote again? What if we realized that all of our time spent writing this blog never got us anywhere? No, I suspect one doesn’t require the ability to see the future to glean that bit of info.

I'd hope that if we were clairvoyant we'd have a better use for our time than messing up recipes and writing about it every now and then. To be honest, I watched the big game surrounded by a sea of blue Colts jerseys in Indianapolis a few hours ago actually. I was as surprised as anyone that New Orleans won.

ANYWAY [back to the actual cooking part of this blog], our true reason for featuring Cajun food of late is simply because it is delicious. If you need one more reason to make gumbo, "Fat Tuesday" is less a week away! Make your Mardi Gras awesome* and get you some gumbo.
*Gumbo probably won’t make your Mardi Gras awesome. More likely you’ll feel vaguely authentic, as if you were wearing a grass skirt in a Hawaiian hotel.

Now before you read this recipe and think, "Hot diggity! How am I gonna afford all of this?? 12 cups of onions? Daggum! Bump this malarkey**!", take a deep breath.
**Using proper cooking language, of course.

We know. It says it serves 16 for a reasons. If you live somewhere other than an Army base and/or on Bourbon Street,we expect you to be halving or even quartering this recipe. Yes, this requires division and multiplication, something that we are notably poor at (see Chicken Crab Valentine as a reference point). We managed well enough though, so take heart. We made half the recipe for 4 people and ended up eating it on 3-4 separate occasions, so consider yourself warned. This recipe makes a ton no matter how you look at it.

Also note that you can prepare this stuff ahead of time. We didn't read that part and Matty spent a woeful few hours chopping vegetables with our special guest stars (ok, it's our mom and sister) before I ever even made it home from work. Don't make this mistake - split the task of making gumbo up and it will be much, much less stressful for you than it was for us.

From Epicurious.Com. If you're interested, here is the recipe as listed on that site.

Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo
As described in the December 2006 issue of Bon Appétit magazine

“A cook's dream: The base is made ahead, and the shrimp are added at the last minute. Best of all, the gumbo tastes even better the second day.” <-- Unlike us, I suggest you actually read this part ahead of time.

Yield: Makes 16 servings --YES, SIXTEEN.

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
6 large onions, chopped (about 12 cups)
6 red bell peppers, seeded, chopped (about 7 cups)
8 celery stalks, chopped (about 3 cups)
16 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme
6 bay leaves
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
4 8-ounce bottles clam juice
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 pounds andouille sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 16-ounce packages sliced frozen okra

4 pounds peeled deveined medium shrimp
Minced fresh Italian parsley
Steamed rice


Phase I : This phase can be done up to two days ahead of the intended consumption date.

Step 1: The Vegetables: Cut the heck outta some vegetables. There's a lot of 'em, so take them out as best you can.

Step 2: The Base - Heat oil in heavy 13-quart pot over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Add flour and stir constantly until mixture is dark reddish brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, and chopped celery and cook until onions are soft and brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cayenne and stir 2 minutes. Add wine, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes with juice, clam juice, broth, sausage, and chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add okra and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

If you are making the soup base ahead of time, cool slightly at this point. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring base to simmer before eventually continuing.

Phase II : Finishing Up

Add shrimp to pot and cook shrimp until just opaque in center, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season gumbo to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with minced parsley and serve with steamed rice alongside / underneath.


  • This recipe is pretty straight-forward. You chop, you make the base, you toss in the shrimp at the end. IF you follow the directions and don't do everything at once, you'll have fun. Learn from our mistakes.
  • Also, make sure you really have all of the supplies that you need. We had to substitute Italian sausage (NOT the same, mind you) for half of the andouille because Heinen's only had one pound when we went. Be prepared.
  • We recommended this recipe to someone on Twitter who made it for 15 people and had huge success with it. He said he added a Tablespoon of extra cayenne pepper to kick it up a notch - you may want to as well.
  • Do not reheat too many times once the shrimp is in! They quickly become soft to the point of becoming a pretty gross texture.


Our Results

It was pretty good, we both decided, though we made our share of mistakes (see the Tips).We would make it again, assuming we got it right. After all, it has okra in it. Mmmm... okra. If you made this recipe as we now have it edited, we believe you'll have a hootin'-good, delicious time. I estimate it will go something like this:

We certainly hope you have a blast.

We anticipate this being the last publicly available recipe we'll be using for a while because, to be honest, things are a lot more interesting when we either find some obscure recipe in an ancient tome or straight-up invent a dish based on what we found in our cupboards. Expect a return to our roots...

Until next time.

P.S. If you're REALLY bored, feel free to watch our step-by-step video of the undertaking! It gets... interesting.

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