Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Difference Between Gumbo and Jambalaya

My husband grew and froze okra last year, and it's burning a hole in my freezer now.  So I figured I would make some jambalaya.

Good thing I did a little research.  In an anti-scholarship mood because I'm at the tail end of my grad class, here's what I recall from my google searches and links:

Jambalaya is a Creole one-pot dish with rice.  It starts with the Southern cooking holy trinity:  onion, celery, bell pepper.  It usually has spicy sausage, seafood of some kind, and chicken.  It has tomatoes and the seasonings usually include black pepper, cayenne, and thyme.

 "Gumbo" is derived from an African language word for "okra." Gumbo is more like a stew that is thickened with okra when it is in season or file powder (sassafras) otherwise; some people do thicken it with a roux.  Otherwise it has the same elements as jambalaya, except no rice.

Now, there are a million variations on that theme and I hope some of you tell me yours in the comments.

 I made up my own variation:
- nixed the chicken because it just takes on flavors and anyway, I was using flavorful homemade chicken stock
- used chorizo because the store was out of andouille sausage and the nice guy said chorizo is just spicier, that's all
-used lots of vegetables, with the meat and seafood added for flavor

 . . .and it was so fabulous we ate every bit.  That could be a comment on my cooking or on gumbo itself.  Maybe you should try to figure it out in your kitchen!

Thrift at Home Gumbo

First, make shrimp-shell infused chicken stock. 
Peel about 1 cup shrimp (mine were frozen, so I thawed them first), setting them back in the fridge and reserving the shells. 
Add the shells to 1-2 cups chicken stock and simmer for at least 30 minutes - longer with the lid off will reduce and strengthen the chicken stock, which could be a good, needful thing.

Saute in cast-iron Dutch oven:

1-2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped

Add 1/4-1/2 cup chorizo or andouille sausage, finely chopped.

Add (all approximations):
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. sage
fresh ground black pepper

Add the shrimp-shell infused chicken stock, straining out the shells and discarding.
Add 1-2 cups tomatoes, fresh or canned.
Add 1 cup chopped (thawed) okra

Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes

Turn off heat.  Add chopped shrimp.  Allow to sit 5-10 minutes, covered, to cook shrimp.  Serve as a stew with bread because you will want to swipe every last bit out of your bowl.


Deanna Beth said...

Very informative. It sounds delicious. I've got some chorizo in the freezer, actually...

Polly said...

Yum! I made up a jambalaya recipe last year...this reminds me to make it after Lent is over. In spite of long Southern roots, I don't care for okra....& I did not know the true difference between gumbo and jambalaya! So cool to know!

Anonymous said...

WOW, thanks...Never knew the difference...Will definately try your recipe!

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of okra, but if you put chorizo in something I will eat it in a heartbeat. Mmmmmm...

Margo said...

Punk, I'm not a total okra fan either, but it is a nice thickener for soups and stews; doesn't have a strong flavor, in my opinion. I do like fried okra - fried everything, in fact :)

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

Be still my beating heart! Soul food is the best.