Oh Atlanta, you are the city that brings Gone With the Wind to life. You are where all the best parts take place. I'll admit it you captured my imagination. I knew you had grown up, but I hoped you had still retained some of your southern charm. Too bad you didn't.
I was so excited to go to Atlanta. Then I got there. It was dirty. And humid. And hot. I thought it lacked any kind of Southern charm. I returned home dejected. I cried for days. Weeks even. Sure, I still have high hopes for Savannah, Charlotte, and Charleston but are featured in GWTW. There is another city that is mentioned though.
New Orleans. Scarlett and Rhett go on their honeymoon. A vibrant city with a strong cultural identity that is seen in its food, music, and architecture. A city I have also been to. I went post Katrina and was astonished by the passion with which the Creoles speak of their city. I'll admit I went with low expectations. It was the city in the midst of a revival and I was very pleasantly surprised by everything I encountered.
Someday I will go back, but until I do, homemade gumbo will more than suffice. While a certain part (cough cough the dark roux) requires near constant attention, once that is done the gumbo is more than happy to just sit on the stove and take care of itself. This is not the stuff usually found in restaurants though. It is thicker and definitely spicier. My dad calls it the best gumbo he's ever eaten. While I'm not close to southern or Creole by birth this is a nod to my imaginary heritage.
I usually use chicken andouille sausage because it is all I can find. If you use pork, brown it in a separate pan and drain the fat before adding it to the gumbo. If you're shrimp aren't pre-peeled and you are using chicken stock, combine the chicken stock and peels in a small sauce pan and heat on medium while the roux is being made to up the shrimp flavor of the dish.
1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup diced celery
2 green bell peppers diced
2 cups onion diced
8-10 cups chicken or shrimp stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound andouille sausage
1 fryer chicken cut into parts, or 8 pieces of chicken
2 pounds shrimp, peeled
1-2 tablespoons gumbo file (optional)
Make the Roux:
In a heavy 8 quart pot combine flour and oil. Cook over medium low heat whisking constantly, until the color of chocolate. For a rough estimate of time, I can listen to 2 albums worth of music or drink 2 beers.
When it is the same color as chocolate add the celery, bell peppers, and onions. Cook until softened, about ten minutes. Add chicken or shrimp stock, spices, and the chicken pieces. Cook for 1 hour over medium low heat.
After an hour, add andouille sausage and cook for another 1.5 hours. Somewhere around an hour check the spices and salt level.
Right before serving, turn off heat and add shrimp and gumbo file. Let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken and cook the shrimp before serving.