How to Cheat at Gumbo (and win)
The first rule of Gumbo Club is don't talk about Gumbo Club.
Nah, not really. The first rule of Gumbo Club is never, ever put tomatoes in your gumbo.
Likewise, never, ever put beans in your gumbo.
I know how to make a gumbo from scratch. It’s not that hard. But it does take practice to get the roux right and good gumbo takes a long time in the pot. When I don’t want the bother or don’t want the long wait, I use Oak Grove Gumbo Base. This is an easy way to get into gumbo making. If you later want to go the scratch route, there are plenty of recipes and videos online.
Even with Oak Grove Gumbo Base, I make a few tweaks to my liking, as follows:
It’s a bit saltier than I care for so I either use 1/2 the bag and the required liquid or the whole bag and double the liquid.
For the liquid, I use low sodium BEEF stock for chicken gumbo or seafood gumbo. I like the darker, richer taste. (Use water or chicken broth for a lighter, more golden gumbo.)
Before you do anything, sauté the Trinity (onion, celery, green bell pepper) - about a cup of the three combined - right in the pot you are going to cook in.
If using cooked chicken, cut into chunky pieces. If using uncooked chicken, boil whatever boneless pieces you like then cut those into chunky pieces.
Sausage… pretty much whatever you like. I tend to use Hillshire Farms Smoked Beef Sausage cut into manageable pieces. I’ve also used turkey sausage or andouille sausage.
Personally, I love to add okra. A large package of frozen okra will do just fine. I promise, cooking it this way will not make it slimy.
Once the gumbo base, water and Trinity are in the pot, make sure it’s well combined before adding chicken, sausage and okra. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for as long as you can stand it, stirring occasionally.
Serve over white rice. Eat it up. Eat leftovers - it’s even better on day 2.
So remember, no tomatoes; no beans. But do feel free to replace chicken with turkey or if you’re making seafood gumbo, you can use shrimp, crab, crawfish, oysters but not fish. Also delicious... duck gumbo.
And welcome to Gumbo Club.