For my spin on the traditional Creole dish gumbo, I concocted a roux made with whole wheat flour and canola oil rather than white flour and butter. A roux is used as a base to thicken sauces and stews and is composed of a fat and flour.
The more you cook a roux, the darker and more nutty and flavorful it becomes. I started with a golden roux for the gumbo and built the dish with a mirepoix, low sodium chicken stock, casing free andouille style chicken sausage, skinless boneless chicken thighs, some additional flavor enhancers, and topped it off with some jumbo shrimp. The other spin I took was an abridged and boosted version of red beans and rice. I used farro and kidney beans and threw in some peas for added contrast. The farro sub provided many more nutrients than traditional white rice and added a little more sophistication.
Gumbo with Red Beans and “Rice”
Adapted from John Besh’s recipe in the Nov. 2011 Food and Wine
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 ½ quarts low sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ pounds casing free all natural andouille chicken sausage
- 2 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 jumbo shrimp, cleaned
- Cooked farro
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup organic frozen peas, defrosted
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Pickled jalapeño
- Hot sauce
Brown chicken thighs in 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. They should not be fully cooked, but nicely colored. Removed from pan and set aside.
Combine oil and flour and cook over moderately high heat, stirring continually until flour mixture is golden and smooth, around 5 minutes.
Mix in onions, garlic, celery, bell peppers, and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently for around 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste and cook for a minute. Add stock, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf. Cut the chicken into cubes and add it back into the pot with the sausage. Simmer for 2 hours; discard the bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Throw the shrimp in 3 minutes prior to eating and allow to pinken and curl.
While the gumbo simmers, cook the farro and add the frozen peas into the pot for the last minute to heat. Drain, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and combine with kidney beans.
Serve Gumbo along side the red beans and “rice” and garnish as you please.
The roux and sausage added a great smoky component to the gumbo. All of the flavors melded together nicely, and the farro was a delectable nutty and chewy addition to soak up the sauce. I looked over a lot of different variations of gumbo recipes while concocting this dish, and it is apparent that there are a plethora of variations on a common Creole theme.
This dish was nutrient rich and provided a great balance of:
- Lean protein from the beans, chicken, and shrimp
- Fiber, iron, and complex carbohydrates from the farro, peas, and kidney beans
- Monounsaturated fat from the olive oil and canola oil
As usual, the gumbo got better with age and provided plenty of leftovers to fuel me through my rigorous study sessions leading up to finals.
On another note…I just found out I will be completing my internship at New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope! So excited to be starting my 27 weeks of clinical rotations and be one step closer to becoming an RD!
Happy Eating Radish Heads!