Recipe by Witch Doctor
The word "gumbo" usually conjures visions of a tomato-ey soup, reddish, and rife with chunky things like okra. You can find this kind of gumbo in Louisiana, but the amazing thing about the gumbo there is its variety. Gumbos can have different colors, different textures, and different ingredients. This is one of my very favorite types: a dark-brown, medium-rich one, with chunks of meat but no okra. What makes it so special? This is one of those amazing Louisiana dishes you hear about that involves the darkening of the roux - for at least an hour - until it's the color of mahogany. This adds not only color but incredible flavor to the gumbo: nutty, toasty, almost coffee like. I had a gumbo like this at Mr. B's Bistro in New Orleans, made with chicken, and andouille sausage and loved it so much I have tried to copy the recipe. I tried it first with the chicken, then I decided to use some spareribs I had. When I make my gumbo, it’s ingredients are whatever I have in the fridge at the time. Is it hot enough for you? I suggest initially going with my spice amounts suggested in the recipe, because the gumbo gets "hotter" as it cooks; you can always adjust with Tabasco sauce or spices at the last minute. Speaking of which, I find that a tiny pinch of ground gumbo file just before serving adds a lovely accent.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- kosher salt
- 2 1⁄2 lbs spareribs, country-style
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
- 1⁄2 lb unsalted butter
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut into medium-fine dice
- 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and cut into medium-fine dice
- 1 medium onion, cut into medium-fine dice
- 3 scallions, green and white, cut into medium-fine dice, plus extra chopped scallion for garnish
- 1 stalk celery, cut into medium-fine dice
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne (or more)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or more)
- 1⁄8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1⁄2 lb andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 pinch gumbo file
- 6 cups hot cooked white rice
Directions See How It's Made
- Place the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over high heat. Lightly salt the spareribs and add them to the pot. Sear the meat on both sides until it's golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
- Add the chicken stock to the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any crusty bits, Add the garlic clove: Bring to a boil, remove any scum on top by skimming with a large spoon, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook at a lightly rolling simmer for 2 hours. When done, the pork should be tender and you should have about 8 cups of stock. Remove the spareribs from the stock with a slotted spoon and reserve. Measure the stock; if there's less than 8 cups, add water to bring it up to 8 cups. Keep the stock hot.
- Start the roux after the pork has simmered for about 1 hour. Place the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. When it's melted, add 1/2 cup of flour all at once, stirring vigorously into the melted butter with a wooden spoon. When it's incorporated, repeat with another 1/2 cup of flour. When that's incorporated, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour; you will need most of it, but you may not need it all. Stop adding flour as soon as the roux begins to clump up and is on the verge of turning solid; it should remain a very thick, but runny, paste. Continue to cook the roux over medium-low heat, stirring often and monitoring its color, for about an hour. It will darken as it cooks, finally reaching a color like dark mahogany or rich fudge. Don't let the roux get too dark (as dark as black coffee, say), because it can burn.
- When the roux is cooked, stir the green peppers into the roux and cook for 30 seconds. Immediately add the jalapeños, onion, 3 scallions, and celery. Stir into the roux, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the hot stock all at once to the roux. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the roux melts entirely and thickens the stock. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Add the thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, crushed red pepper, black pepper, allspice, and bay leaf. Remove the pork meat from the bones; break it into walnut-sized chunks with your fingers. Discard the bones and add the meat to the gumbo. Simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.
- Add the andouille. Cover the pot, and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes more. You can make the gumbo to this step a day ahead.
- When you're ready to serve, add the gumbo file, taste for seasoning, and adjust. Fill a small teacup with hot white rice and invert it into a wide, shallow soup bowl; the rice should sit in a mound in the center of the bowl. Ladle the hot gumbo with chunks of pork and slices of andouille around the rice, garnish with a little chopped scallion, and serve immediately. Keep plating until 12 bowls altogether are served.