I love to cook. I don’t do it nearly enough. Mostly, since I am dieting, I tend to eat way too much when I cook, so it is better for my diet to simply eat a pre-prepared meal (Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, etc). But one thing that we have figured out how to make with a low calorie count is gumbo. I’ve been making this for quite a number of years. Everyone in my family loves it. (Technically, since it contains neither okra nor filet, it isn’t gumbo, but we still call it that and no one has complained.)
Below is the recipe I use, although that’s a bit of a misnomer. I kinda follow the recipe, but I learned that some of the best dishes are made when you “sorta” follow the recipe. I’ve messed up a few times with the calculations and it has always turned out for the better (see below). We have a couple of very big kettle pots and generally do four or three* batches at one time.
(* – Yes, I said four or three, not three or four… this is Cajun “gumbo” and that is how we’re supposed to say things. See Justin Wilson for more explanation.)
One recipe will yield about 10 servings that are about 250 calories each. Here’s the recipe for one batch; I hope you enjoy.
- 1/2 cup white flour
- 1 celery bunch
- 3 onions
- 3 bell peppers
- 1/3 bunch green onion
- 1-3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1 tsp red pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Tabasco
- 3 lb whole chicken
- 1 lb turkey sausage
- Bake flour in an iron skillet at 400 for one hour or until evenly golden brown. Stir every 15 minutes to prevent scorching.
- Put chicken on to boil.
- While the chicken is boiling, chop the celery, onions, green peppers, and green onions. Add the leafy ends of the celery stalks, the pealed onion ends, the green pepper ends (no seeds), and a few green onions to the chicken pot.
- Cut ends off turkey sausage and add to chicken pot. Slice sausage into 1/2 inch medallions and cut each into half-moons.
- Press garlic cloves.
- Measure out dry ingredients into a small bowl.
- When the chicken is done, remove and let cool. Save the stock.
- Break chicken meat off bone into bite sized pieces.
- Mix equal parts water and flour in a stock pot over medium-low heat to make roux. Keep extra water to add as needed to prevent roux from thickening too much. Consistency and color should be like a medium thick brown gravy. Be sure to keep stirring to prevent scorching. (Be careful not to splash the roux onto your skin or you will discover why it is called Cajun napalm.) You can cook the roux at a higher temperature, and it will cook faster, but scorching is much more likely. If the roux scorches you will need to throw it out and start over.
- When the roux reaches the color of chestnut add celery, onions and bell peppers. Stir and cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Again, this can be done at a higher temperature, but you must continue stirring to prevent scorching.
- When the veggies are soft (celery usually takes the longest), stir in green onions, garlic, dry seasonings, and sauces. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly to prevent sticking/scorching. If it hasn’t yet, the aroma at this point will drive you crazy.
- Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 5 minutes, again, stirring regularly to prevent sticking/scorching.
- Using cheesecloth or a wire colander strain in stock to reach 20 cups volume. (Add water if there wasn’t enough chicken stock.) Be sure to fish out the two sausage ends and add them back to the gumbo.
- Raise heat to medium/medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce to low heat and simmer for one hours, stirring occasionally.
- Cook 5 cups of white rice to be finished when the gumbo is done.
- Pull out the two sausage ends and put on a plate to cool. These are cook’s privilege. That was hard work.
Serve two cups of gumbo with one half cup of rice. Vary this if you prefer a thicker or soupier serving.
You can replace the chicken with another meat. Vary the depth of the brown to the color of the meat. Lighter for seafood and darker for red meats. We’ve tried shrimp, gator, steak, and turkey. I’m guessing shrimp might be fewer calories, but it may be much more expensive. The only thing we tried that didn’t work well was fish. It turned out fine for most of us, but it was a very fishy taste. The only caution is, if you do use seafood, make sure you cook the roux completely before adding the rest of the ingredients. We didn’t one time and the result was only barely edible.
On one occasion, I was making three batches and was going to just use the tablespoon for the peppers and Tabasco since one tablespoon equals three teaspoons. Only, when I began putting everything in the pot, I forgot that was what I was doing and ended up using three tablespoons of the peppers and Tabasco. Everyone enjoyed it, but it was VERY spicy and we don’t do that every time.
Finally, I’ve recently been adding a teaspoon of sea salt as well. I prefer it with just that little touch more salt, but this is definitely something that will depend on your tastes.
If you try this, I’d love to know if you enjoyed it. Also, if you do anything differently, let me know about that also.