Sunday, February 7, 2010
Super Bowl Sunday (with Gumbo!)
Vegetarian gumbo with homemade crackers.
Gumbo is a thick soup, really more of a stew, which puts the natural sliminess of okra to good use. It comes to us from Louisiana, and so we felt it was appropriate to make as we cheered on the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
We had always thought of okra as the defining constituent of gumbo, but Wikipedia informs us that either okra or filé powder can be used as the thickener. (Filé powder is dried, ground sassafras leaves - we have yet to add it to our spice collection.) The recipe that we (loosely) followed actually called for both. Apparently this is not very authentic, nor is the addition of tofu. Gumbo would typically include shellfish, pork, or poultry.
In addition to the okra and/or filé powder, a roux base is used to make gumbo just a little bit thicker. To make a roux, flour is cooked in butter or oil over medium-low heat until it reaches the desired color, which can range from golden (a light roux) to copper-brown (a dark roux). Here, we started the gumbo with a dark roux.
To go with the gumbo, Giselle made crackers following Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything. These made use of our half-white flour from Cayuga Pure Organics, and they were topped with salt and nigella seeds.