A seafood gumbo with crayfish, oysters, shrimp and okra (photo © Mackenzie Ltd.).
 Gumbo is always served over white rice. Here, shrimp and andouille sausage gumbo (photo © Good Eggs).
 Okra, shown whole and sliced (photo © Melissa’s Produce | Facebook).
 Emerill Lagasse’s chicken and andouille sausage gumbo (photo © NOLA Restaurant | New Orleans).
 Emeril (and other cooks) use file powder instead of okra to thicken their gumbos. Okra thickens by becoming ribbon-like string as it releases a gum, while filé has a starchy type of thickening. Okra gives a better texture; filé gives a better flavor (photo © Zatarain’s).
 Ground filé (photo © Marietta Spice Mill).
 Andouille sausage, (photo © Wikipedia).
With most people we know are discussing Super Bowl recipes, we’d like to throw an idea onto the table: gumbo.
Even if you’ve never had gumbo, you’ve heard about it: a famous Creole* dish from Louisiana.
As with just about any dish, ingredients vary and can include just about anything:
In the meat group: poultry (chicken, duck), rabbit or other game, sausage (Andouille, chaurice) tasso (smoked pork shoulder)
In the seafood group: crawfish, crab, oysters, shrimp
In the seasonings group: bay leaf, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, dry mustard, fresh parsley, garlic, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme or a commercial Cajun seasoning blend
In the “whatever” group: chayote squash, tomatoes and anything that appeals to you. Many cooks enjoy creating their signature twist to a recipe.
Whatever the details, the recipe will include what is called the “holy trinity” in Cajun and Creole cuisines: celery, green bell peppers, onions; plus a chicken stock base thickened with a roux (fat and flour).
No gumbo would be complete without a base of white rice, over which the gumbo is ladled.
And then, there’s okra (photo #3).
Gumbo is an African word for okra. The vegetable came to America with the slave trade and was introduced into Southern cuisine by African cooks.
Gumbo was originally thickened with okra pods; the French added the roux for more thickening.
More than a few people avoid gumbo because they don’t like the texture of okra, which is used as a thickener as well as for its flavor.
Guess what: No okra is needed.
You can substitute filé powder (photos #5 and #6). Prounced fee-LAY, it’s a thickener made from ground sassafras leaves. Filé adds a special flavor without what some people call the “gumminess” (or worse, “sliminess”) of the okra.
Filé powder is added at the very end of cooking: Boiling it turns the whole pot of gumbo gummy. Some people stir 1/4 teaspoon of filé into each individual bowl of gumbo: an especially good way to keep the gumbo at the right texture if you have leftovers that need to be reheated.
You can buy filé powder online.
Okra note: Okra doesn’t have to be gummy. Just cook it long enough, about 45 minutes, and the gumminess disappears.
Here’s the recipe served at Emeril’s New Orleans restaurant, NOLA, which uses filé powder as a thickener instead of okra (photo #4). It’s adapted from his Louisiana Real and Rustic cookbook (William Morrow Publisher, 1996, copyright MSLO, Inc., all rights reserved).
RECIPE: EMERIL’S CHICKEN & ANDOUILLE GUMBO
Ingredients For 4 Servings
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1½ cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise into ½ inch slices
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 bay leaves
6 cups water
1 pound boneless chicken meat, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon Emeril’s Original Essence (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon filé powder†
1. COMBINE the oil and flour in a large cast-iron or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.
2. ADD the onions, celery and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4-5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the water.
3. STIR until the roux mixture and water are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
4. SEASON the chicken with the Essence and add to the pot. Simmer for 2 hours, adding additional water if necessary. Gumbo should be the consistency of a somewhat thick soup.
5. SKIM off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, green onions and filé powder. Remove the
bay leaves and serve in deep bowls.
You can purchase Emeril’s Original Essence seasoning online. Or, you can create your own from this recipe:
EMERIL’S ORIGINAL ESSENCE (CAJUN SPICE) RECIPE
2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Plan your play book. Take time to plan out the menu ahead of time. Spend a few minutes to write a grocery list and a prep list. Plan out your dishes based on cooking time and see if there are any items that you can prepare ahead and just reheat. That way when it comes time to set up for the party you can enjoy the festivities, too.
Consider clock management. Super Bowl parties are an all-evening outing, and people stay hungry! So prepare dishes that your guests can continue snacking on, such as big pots of gumbo, chili or soups, served with a big piece of crusty French bread.
Celebrate the victory. Whether you’re having a small family gathering at the house, or one of those big parking lot tailgate parties before the game – it’s all about having fun! What really makes a successful Super Bowl party is great food, fun people and some refreshing drinks!
EMERIL’S ADVICE FOR SUPER BOWL FOOD PREP