We just had the sixth heaviest snowfall on record in the Quad Cities this past weekend. The Davenport Municipal Airport - where the National Weather Service has their local office - recorded 13.3 inches of snow. However, at the Quad City International Airport in Moline - the official weather reporting station for the Quad Cities - they had 14.4 inches of snow. The first 8 inches (or so) of snow was a heavy, dense wet snow that coated trees and power lines across the region causing downed limbs and power outages, clogging snowblowers and making the initial clean-up a pain in the ass. The remaining 5 to 6 inches was a light fluffy snow that was easy to move. It just didn't want to seem to quit.
We knew that we were in store for a pretty big storm so I decided a couple three days in advance to make a big pot of homemade gumbo for both the snow storm and for the Super Bowl. It's been quite a while since I've shared a recipe on Road Tips and I thought I'd do that today.
(For this pot of gumbo, I used both a 12 ounce package of andouille sausage links and a 12 ounce package of Linguiça sausage link - a Portuguese sausage that I got from Usinger's in Milwaukee that is smoky in flavor with a hint of garlic and paprika. Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between the Linguiça and the andouille.)
Prep time for the gumbo is about an hour, cooking time is about four hours. But it's relatively easy to make.
1 cup all-purpose flour (1/2 cup for dredging chicken; 1/2 cup for adding to vegetables)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb. chicken breast tenders cut into 1/2" squares
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 tblsp. ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6 to 8 ribs of celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 - 4 bay leaves
16 oz. fresh or frozen okra (if frozen, thaw beforehand)
1 - 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes mashed with their juice
24 ounces (1 1/2 lbs.) andouille sausage links, cut into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces. (As I said, I also used Linguiça sausage in this batch. Don't use ground andouille sausage.)
4 tblsp - gumbo file powder
1/4 cup cider vinegar
5 or 6 green onions (white and green parts), chopped
1 tsp. cayenne pepper powder (optional)
1 cup slow cooking rice
Cook the andoullie (and/or Linguiça) sausage until brown in skillet. Drain drippings from sausage and place drained sausage in a bowl.
Pour 1/2 cup of flour, along with 2 tblsp of ground black pepper, 1 tsp of sea salt and 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder (optional) into a 1 gallon zip lock baggie. Cut chicken strips into 1" X 1" pieces. Put chicken cuts into the baggie with flour mixture and shake up coating each piece with the flour mixture. Set baggie with chicken aside.
Heat a large (6 quart) pot over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When oil is warm cook the chicken in the pot until brown on both sides, stirring occasionally for about 6 to 8 minutes. Reserve the chicken in a bowl on the side.
Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the same pot and heat to medium. Add onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook on medium heat until all vegetables are soft and aromatic - about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the vegetables with 1/2 cup of flour, mix and continue to cook for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the mashed whole peeled tomatoes (and their juice), the chicken broth and the okra. Add the bay leaves. Bring this to a boil, and then add the reserved chicken and sausage, adding any drippings from the sausage pan. Add gumbo file powder and 2 tsp of sea salt.
Bring gumbo back to a full boil, stirring occasionally until it reaches the boiling point again. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer with the lid on the pot for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
30 minutes before serving, add the rice and cider vinegar stirring every five minutes until the rice is fully cooked. The gumbo is pretty much ready to go.
Add Shrimp, if you like -
We like shrimp in our gumbo, too. But since there's always so much gumbo left over I usually put some in the freezer for eating at a later date. I never cook shrimp with the gumbo as I don't want to re-freeze the shrimp.
We stopped into Schnucks in Bettendorf on Saturday afternoon and they had a seafood display right as you walked in the door. They had two pound bags of frozen Argentinian shrimp - good sized ones, at that, on sale for $13.98. Even if we weren't going to have shrimp anytime soon, we couldn't pass that up.
While the gumbo was cooking, I grabbed about 8 shrimp out of the freezer and put them in a bowl to thaw for an hour or so. They were so big that I didn't think that I would have to use any more than that.
While the gumbo is finishing, boil the shrimp being careful not to overcook the shrimp. Drain, peel and de-vein (if needed) the shrimp.
Place the gumbo in a bowl, place shrimp on top and sprinkle chopped green onions over the gumbo and shrimp. (I forgot to put the chopped onions on the gumbo until after this picture was taken. And I guess I could have used more shrimp. I mean, who can say "no" to more shrimp?) I like to zip my gumbo up with copious amounts of Tabasco sauce. We had some garlic bread with the meal along with some beer and it was a great meal for a snowy Super Bowl evening.
We had a lot of gumbo left over - the amount we made will get us about 8 healthy servings above and beyond what we had that evening. It keeps in the refrigerator for about a week, but will freeze (once again, without the shrimp) for up to three months. And it doesn't matter if it's a snowy night or a warm spring afternoon - to me, gumbo is good any time.