A hearty Cajun gumbo recipe made with plenty of andouille sausage, bacon, peppers, a long stirred roux the color of copper, and the addition of a flavorful Winter ale to help warm the bones.
Is it cold where you are? It's COLD here. Brrr. The temperature is reading a high of "ZERO" today, my friends. ZERO! I just don't like it. When it gets this cold, it typically lasts for days, so when I see it in the forecast, I plan for meals like this one: CAJUN GUMBO. Talk about a meal that will stick to your bones and warm you up. Gumbo is one of my favorite foods on the face of this planet. It is TOPS for a reason. It is the Official State Food of Louisiana, basically a big mish-mash of different cuisines and cultural influences in a single pot.
And you know, you just can't stop eating it on a cold winter evening, so make yourself an extra large pot so can stuff yourself, then save the rest for the next lunch or to enjoy later on in the week.
There are MANY ways to make a gumbo. You would think so, considering all of the different cultures going into it. Traditional gumbo is ALWAYS amazing, but chefs in and around New Orleans are getting creative with their takes on Cajun and Creole gumbo, and if they're having fun experimenting, why shouldn't we? What we've done differently here from a traditional gumbo is to break from the traditional Cajun Holy Trinity and use jalapeno and poblano peppers in the place of green peppers. You know me and my #JalapenoObsession. I really wanted a bit more heat, and the earthy flavor of poblanos is stellar.
I've also included my own Cajun-style seasoning blend. We focused here on Andouille, rather than seafood, which you could TOTALLY add if you wanted to, but also added in bacon for the flavor of...um, BACON. Nothing wrong with bacon!
You normally won't see collard greens in a gumbo outside of a "green gumbo", or Gumbo Z'Herbes, but I've added some in here because I FREAKING LOVE greens of all types. Heck, see my last recipe - Seared Sausages with Mustard Greens and Peppers. They work GREAT here to fill up the dish.
Lastly, I've incorporated a Winter Ale into the mix in lieu of using entirely chicken stock. A stock is more traditional, but the Winter Ale adds some additional seasonings that mellow out slightly but still layer into the final bowl.
A note about this particular Cajun gumbo recipe - I like to let mine simmer on low for several hours. It is going to take you time to make your roux, if you make it properly, and PLEASE do. If you don't spend the proper time making your roux, your gumbo won't be as good. But once everything is ready in the pot, you can let it simmer a long time. Just be sure to keep it LOW and do not let the moisture disappear. The longer it cooks, the deeper the flavor develops. You will thank me for this.
Oh, gumbo. I DO LOVE you so.
If you're a fan of gumbo, check out the next issue of Chile Pepper Magazine. I wrote a feature for their "Cajun & Creole" issue dedicated entirely to gumbo - Gumbo 6 Ways. I hope you enjoy them all!
Mike’s Winter Ale Gumbo – Recipe
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large poblano pepper, chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 strips bacon, chopped
- 12 ounces andouille and/or smoked ham, sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bottle Winter Ale - I used Goose Island Winter Ale
- 5 cups chicken stock
- Your favorite Louisiana style hot sauce
- 1 bunch collard greens, chopped
- Cooked rice for serving, if desired
- Add ½ cup peanut oil to a large pot and heat to medium heat. Add flour and stir. Cook for 30 minutes, constantly stirring, until the roux browns to the color of peanut butter. Do not allow to burn.
- Add peppers, onion, celery, potato, garlic and bacon. Stir and cook about 8 minutes.
- Add andouille/smoked ham. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add herbs and seasonings, Winter Ale, chicken stock and a few dashes or more of hot sauce. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom.
- Add collard greens and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and cook at medium-low heat for 2-3 hour or more to thicken.
- Remove from heat and swirl in a few dashes of hot sauce to your preference.
- Serve with cooked rice and extra hot sauce.