My version of this classic cajun gumbo is made even richer and more decadent by a daringly dark roux, creating a mega-flavor packed base to build on.
Gumbo is one of the most comforting stews you can make for the colder months. Although, it tastes so dang great you can’t blame people for eating it all year round. This gumbo is rich and silky, largely thanks to a super dark roux. The roux is the base for all gumbos – creole roux are lighter in color similar to their French counterparts, while cajun roux are deep brown – like swamp water. But, the color of your roux determines the thickness and the flavor of the final stew. Making a roux is somewhat of an art form, albeit a simple one. So much so, I dedicated an entire page to the topic of how to make a roux. I definitely recommend you give it a read, particularly to have a reference to the roux color chart.
When it comes to the shrimp, you have a tough choice to make. Two, actually. The first question involves shrimp size – do you choose smaller shrimp so there’s more chance of scooping up a delicious crustacean on your gumbo spoon? Or do you splash out and select plump, oversized mega-shrimp . There is really no wrong answer here. You’re still the winner either way. But, you will need to adjust the quantities depending on the size of the shrimp you choose. Remember – it’s better to have a gumbo that’s generously packed with lots of the good stuff, than to have to fish around in the broth for one measly shrimp.
Andouille sausage is one of the famous Louisiana sausage varieties, along with boudin. Andouille is a coarsely ground pork sausage that has been precooked and smoked. So, not only does it impart a ton of flavor from the pork fat, but it adds a lovely smokey note, too. It’s a hearty and robust sausage that can really hold shape even amidst the simmering frenzy of the gumbo pot. To layer even more flavor, I sear the cut sides of the sausage so they develop a deep and delicious golden brown crust.
Start by making the roux. Combine 1 cup of oil with the 1 cup of flour in a skillet. Cook over low heat stirring constantly until you have achieved a dark roux AT LEAST darker in color than milk chocolate. For a more in depth guide to cooking a roux, please consult the link in the description above). Set the roux aside.
Place a large pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoon of oil. Brown the andouille pieces on both sides until a deep crust is formed, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove them from the pot and set aside.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot, along with onions, celery, peppers and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are softened and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the cajun seasoning and stir through. Make sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Heat the stock in a separate saucepan, bringing it to a gentle simmer.
Add the roux to the vegetable mix, stirring to combine. Add one ladle of warm stock to the roux mixture, stirring constantly as you slowly add the broth. Continue to add one ladle of stock at a time until it is all incorporated. It’s important to do this slowly to make sure your roux does not split.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then return the sausage to the pot, and add in the shrimp and bay leaves. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 40-60 minutes until the flavors are well mingled.
Add the hot sauce right before serving, then serve in bowls ladled over white rice.