Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shrimp and Chicken Filé Gumbo

I’ve got only one other gumbo recipe—Chicken and Andouille Gumbo—and I made it with a light roux, more of a golden color instead of chocolaty. It’s simply a matter of time: Traditional gumbo cooks stand over the pan stirring flour and oil together for more than an hour. The longer, the darker, and that’s a good thing. After all, it’s the roux that makes the simple ingredients in this favorite Louisiana soup deliciously rich and inviting.

Now enter Alton Brown. I came across his method of baking the roux instead of stirring it on the stovetop, and I decided to try it. Hats off to Alton! Simply whisk the flour and oil in a Dutch oven and place it, uncovered, in a 350°F oven for 1.5 to 2 hours (mine was 1.75), whisking every 20 minutes or so. The roux turned out a rich, deep, dark peanut butter color—and I had time to get everything else ready while it baked. Give this method a try. Note: I used canola oil. Vegetable oil may result in an even darker roux.

For a little more info about gumbo, this is from the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo recipe:
You’ve heard of filé gumbo, but not all gumbos include this powder made from ground or pounded sassafras leaves. It’s used to thicken the soup at the end of cooking (or passed around the table once the soup is served), but okra is also commonly used as a thickener. Use only one or the other—not both.

Here, I stirred in a little filé (off heat) after the gumbo was cooked, and passed more at the table for guests who wanted an even thicker consistency. The key is to try to find the best filé powder you can. It should have a deep sage-green color, not murky brown like some products on the market.

Another note: If you’re making enough gumbo to have leftover, don’t add filé to the entire pot after cooking. The powder doesn’t cook well and may become stringy when the dish is reheated. Simply allow your guests to sprinkle it on at the table, then add it to the leftover gumbo after heating.

And a final note: There are several differences between gumbo and jambalaya, but the most obvious have to do with the rice and consistency of the dish. Gumbo is a slightly thick soup—or stew—that’s ladled over already cooked rice. Jambalaya is more of a casserole in which the rice is cooked along with the other ingredients for a very thick consistency. (Compare it to Spanish paella.)  

Serves 4-5

  • 1/2 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 tsp filé powder, plus more for serving, if desired
  • hot, cooked white rice, for serving

Prepared Chicken
Prepared Onion, Celery, and Bell Pepper

Prepared Parsley, Sage, and Tomato

Prepared Shrimp
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Whisk together the oil and flour in a Dutch oven (or other large, heavy pot) until well blended. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, stirring every 20 minutes, until the roux is brown (think dark peanut butter), about 1.75 hours. Transfer the pan to the stovetop.

Whisked Oil and Flour Ready to Bake

Halfway Through

Cooked Roux
  1. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook until browned and just cooked through, 6-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside, if using within 1 hour (or cover and chill until ready to use).
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pot with the roux over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, 6-7 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato, parsley, and sage, stirring to incorporate. Add the chicken broth 1 cup at a time, stirring to combine each cup. Season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. (Reduce the heat, if the mixture begins to boil.)
  4. Add the shrimp and reserved cooked chicken breast to the pot and cook until the shrimp is done and chicken is hot throughout, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of filé powder, stirring to combine.

Chicken Beginning to Cook

Cooked Chicken

Vegetables Added to Roux

Softened Vegetables

Tomato Mixture Added

Broth Added

Shrimp and Chicken Added
To serve, mound rice in the middle of shallow bowls and spoon gumbo over and around the rice. Pass filé powder at the table and let guests help themselves to more, if desired.
Shrimp and Chicken Filé Gumbo

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