Sam’s Hot & Piquant Gumbo Recipe

It all started when I wondered what I could do with the frozen leftovers from last Christmas (my family does not celebrate Thanksgivings). My freezer still had several packets of 1) thickly sliced turkey breast/thigh meat (that can easily be diced and converted into chunks), and 2) cheese sausages packed in pairs. As a lazy Asian home chef, I definitely prefer cooking one-dish rice meals on weekdays.

We had Turkey Fried Rice the day before so I decided to cook something non-Asian this time. I didn’t want to shop for too many “new” ingredients – one or two items are okay. Also, I needed something that goes well with rice (Oryza sativa), the non-sticky, long-grained indica variety we eat almost on a daily basis. After an extensive 10 minute research online, I settled on Gumbo. Reading the ingredients listed made me realise that this stew possesses many layers of textures and tastes. I truly believed in its potential to satisfy my family members palate even though I have not attempted gumbo before!

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and what Louisianians call the “Holy Trinity” of vegetables, namely celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used, the vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the 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). – Wikipedia

I re-read the bookmarked Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe by Ashlee Marie. She’s one of my favourite YouTube chefs. I really loved what I am seeing… The photos on her blog post were mouthwatering! But I do not have quite a number of the turkey ingredients listed on her site (or from the sites of any authentic gumbo recipes I reviewed), so I’ll have to reinvent gumbo according to what I have.

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My “Holy Trinity” of vegetables were Onions, Cabbage and Carrots.

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Mis en place for my version of Hot Piquant Gumbo.
The leftovers from last Christmas were turkey and sausages.
The rest of the ingredients were what I had in my fridge and larder.
The only thing I bought was the bacon.

Sam’s Hot & Piquant Gumbo Recipe (serves 4 – 5 persons)
Ingredients:
Cooked Rice (see recipe link below).

Roux (thickening agent):
⅓ cup Olive Oil (120g butter, my preference and I used butter on my second time cooking).
⅓ cup Plain Flour.

Thawed Turkey Breast, cut into chunks (amount to your liking).
Sausages, cut into 1 inch chunks (use any type of sausage).
5 rashers Bacon (streaky or back).
2 large Red Onions, diced (you can use Yellow Onions).
¼ head Cabbage, chopped.
1 – 2 Carrot, cut into small chunks.
1 can Diced Tomatoes (Hunt’s brand about 411g).
1 litre Chicken Broth (I used Swanson’s brand, you can use fresh or store-bought).
4 Bay Leaves.
I added Water into the pot of ingredients until the 3.5 litre marking on my pot was reached. You can adjust the consistency of the gumbo “soup/stew” accordingly, by simmering on medium low heat for soupy, or longer time on higher heat if you like richer gumbo stew.
1 tablespoon Butter, optional (salted or unsalted doesn’t matter). To be added at the end of cooking after the fire is turned off.

Seasonings:
Salt, to taste.
Black Pepper, to taste.
A few sprinkling of dried Crushed Red Pepper, optional.
¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika, optional.
¼ teaspoon Chilli Powder, optional.
Tabasco, to taste (I used 1½ tablespoons).
Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce, to taste (I used about ⅓ cup? I don’t know, I just kept splashing).

Note: I love heat and sour. Ashlee’s recipe called for Ro Tel, canned tomatoes which has chopped green chillies in them, so I modified. I added crushed red peppers and smoked paprika but felt it wasn’t hot enough so I added chilli powder. I then added a few shakes of Tabasco and Worcestershire in the beginning. You need to keep tasting when making “soup/stew” and I found that I liked Tabasco and the Worcestershire Sauces so much I went crazy with them. I just kept trying to get more out of the skinny-necked bottles I ended up shaking like a vibrator! I think I could have easily used 1 – 1½ tablespoons of Tabasco, and ⅓ cup or more of Lea & Perrins’! Even at the table when I was having my meal, I doused more Tabasco onto my plate despite the fact that I’d just recovered from gastric. The combination of these two sauces just danced on my quiescent tongue, stimulated my senses, and making me happy instantaneously!

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In a large pot, sauté the bacon till fats ooze, then add turkey and sausage. Once browned, remove onto a plate and set aside.

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Pour olive oil and flour into the pot. Cook over medium high, stirring constantly, until it is the colour appeals to you, light copper or very dark brown roux.

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Add onions and carrots into the pot with roux, and sweat them for 5 minutes.
Stir in the cabbage and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.

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Throw in the turkey, sausage, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaves, *water and salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a soft rolling boil.
*I topped with water enough to reach around the 3 – 3.5 litre marking in my pot.

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Add the rest of the optional seasonings, except butter. Go crazy with Tabasco and Worcestershire or remain tamed and adjust according to taste or leave out those that doesn’t appeal to you.
Cover pot with lid and turn down the heat. Simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes.

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Ladle as much or as little gumbo as you desire. Serve soupy-styled gumbo over rice in a bowl…

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or the gooey-styled gumbo on a plate.

Method:
1. In a large pot, sauté the bacon till fats ooze, then add turkey and sausage. Once browned, remove onto a plate and set aside.

2. Pour olive oil and flour into the pot. Cook over medium high, stirring constantly, until it is the colour that appeals to you, light copper or very dark brown roux. Besides being the thickening agent of this soupy stew, the colour of the cooked roux will determine the colour of your finished product.

3. Add onions and carrots into the pot with roux, and sweat them for 5 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.

4.Throw in the turkey, sausage, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaves, water and salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a soft rolling boil.

5. Add the rest of the optional seasonings, except butter. Go crazy with Tabasco and Worcestershire or remain tamed and adjust according to taste or leave out those that doesn’t appeal to you.

6. Cover pot with lid and turn down the heat. Simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes. Needless to say, the longer you simmer, the better the flavour but take note that the turkey may become too broken up.

7. Keep the lid on during simmering. If you take the lid off too often you might need to (or not) add more water to maintain the liquid level that suits your desired stew viscosity – soupy or gooey.

8. Taste and adjust final seasonings. Once cooking is done, turn off heat and fold in the optional dollop of butter if using. I find that butter gave this stew a luscious body. In fact, I will substitute butter for the olive oil in Step 2 (roux) next time because I want that coveted body! (wink wink)

9. Ladle as much gumbo as you want over hot rice.

10. Top your rice with grated parmesan/dotted with more hot pepper sauce, again optional.

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Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce possesses a peculiar piquancy and because I had used tons, as well as loads of Tabasco Hot Sauce in this stew, “Sam’s Hot Piquant Gumbo” is born!

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My first go at Sam’s Piquant & Hot Gumbo was so good that a week later during a car ride, KT casually mentioned that he felt like eating it again. As luck has it, I had another packet of turkey drumstick meat (tasted more “gamey” then turkey breast) in the freezer. I made it again using butter instead of olive oil for the roux. I did not put in sausage this time. I also did not grate any parmesan or add oregano like last time. I used two slices of fresh old ginger root when stewing. I also made it more soupy by not reducing the stock as much as I did the first time. It tasted wonderful, too!

Verdict: This recipe is a keeper! I definitely liked it soupy just like Ashlee. 🙂

Disclaimer: Ingesting “Sam’s Hot & Piquant Gumbo” may cause lots of exaggerated lips movements and digested “Sam’s Hot & Piquant Gumbo” may cause lots of sensational bowel movements. You Have Been Warned!

Happy cooking, bonding and eating! 🙂

Back to Basics: Rice

Click here for Chef Ashlee’s inspirational Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe.

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