Monday, August 8, 2011

Andean Gumbo

We had a small grilling disaster.  Not a big disaster, no one was injured and the only casualty were the potatoes.  We had plenty of other food, so their loss was not really felt.  It wasn't the type of disaster one would normally imagine.  There was no smoke or charred mess.  Instead, the potatoes were woefully underdone.  Almost crunchy.  Not suitable for the intended meal, but my husband and I were determined to find some sort of use for them.

Digging through the fridge and freezer, we found that we had some Andouille sausage, some non-descript white fish, probably Tilapia, and a variety of other veggies and spices.  We decided to do some experimenting and came up with this - Andean Gumbo.  (Because potatoes orginally came from the Andes mountains.  We could have gone with the name "Irish Gumbo," but we wanted something slightly more obscure - and historically accurate - than that.  That's just the kind of dorks that we are.)

We started with a basic recipe for Seafood and Okra Gumbo from an old Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library cookbook "Soups" that I bought a loooong time ago.  Perhaps as long ago as high school.   This is my ultimate, go-to book for soups.  Everything I have tried from the book is amazing.  So we were pretty sure that we wouldn't be led astray.

And we weren't.  The soup turned out delicious.  One caveat - I burned the onions in step one and was too lazy to start over.  So...everything after that took on the color of the char on the onions and gave the soup and ugly, muddy color.  This is yet again one of those soups that tasted far better than it looked.  Since I don't like to get caught up on looks, I'm OK with that.  All-in-all, it was a great experiment, and we can add another meal into our rotation.  (Which isn't really a rotation, as usually I'm trying so many new things that I rarely make the same thing more than a couple of times a year.  Something that is kind of a bummer when it is really good.)

Andean Gumbo

1/3 C. vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 C. stock or broth (we used some home-made chicken stock that we had in the freezer)
1 can diced tomatoes
6 small white fish fillets (tilapia, cod, etc)
1 small package frozen okra
5-6 cooked Andoille sausages
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or more, if you like it hotter)
about 4 or 5 medium potatoes, mostly cooked, diced.

1. In a large soup pot, warm oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garic until translucent (don't let them burn like I did and make your soup ugly).  Reduce heat to low and add flour, stirring occasionally until golden brown (this is your roux, or thickener).
2. Whisking constantly, stir in the stock.  Then add everything else but the fish and let simmer for about 35 minutes.  Add the fish and continue to cook until fish is done, about 10-15 minutes.

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