Come along friends, lets make a freeze-dried gumbo!
I remember my dad making gumbo when I was little with chicken and okra and all kinds of good things, it was always spicy and warm and making this dish today really made appreciate my dad, my upbringing in the south which, lets face it, is unparalleled in the realm of comfort food, and my new dinner mates who have introduced me to so many new foods and are always excited to see what I can come up with during my day to cook. My mom found sent me this recipe from Chef Paul Prudhomme book and from the reactions to dinner this night, I think I did him proud especially considering our ingredients.
First thing about Gumbo, trying to find the right mix of spices to make a good Cajun seasoning. Here we have all the basic ingredients: salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and some Franks Red Hot because we don’t have any Cayenne pepper.
Now part of the trick to cooking with dehydrated meats is that unless you re-hydrate with a nice marinade then your meat has this tendency to soak up whatever else is in the dish and it all becomes fairly monotonous. Below I have the Sausage Crumbles and White Turkey each with a Cajun blend that are somewhat different so that once they go in the big pot they are still faintly recognizable as different meats.
The vegetable portion is a bit easier to do, they actually have a ton of flavor once they’re re-hydrated so I have the gumbo holy trinity in there (onions, garlic, and peppers) with some leeks, celery, and some left over salsas we had made for taco extravaganza night.
Of course, it wouldn’t be gumbo without a banging roux… and here in lies a fundamental problem with the entire concept of me making gumbo. Roux is, essentially, burned flour and I, being gluten free, am allergic to it. Rice flour burns too quickly for my cooking skills to make into a roux, I don’t know how to use Yautia flour (please send suggestions if you have any ideas), so I went with the safe bet: Pillsbury’s Gluten Free Baking mix. It didn’t get the dark red color that the roux is supposed to be but it did toast up nicely to a good deep gold color. After which I added the re-hydrated veggies, and leftover salsa and brought the stock I made (just ran out of chicken stock so I used beef with a bit of veggie stock, some sugar and vanilla to deepen the flavors) to a boil and slowly added the two, stirring constantly, and then dumped in the pre-sauteed meats.
This bottom picture is my physical representation of my dome-mate Neil’s favorite cooking saying “making flavor babies”. Once everything is added together I stirred it up nice, added some final seasoning and let the flavor babies run wild.
A fresh pot of rice and some GF honey cornbread muffins and the whole crew tucked in with a vengance. I even made it onto the redo recipe board for when we have to cook for the food study people at Cornell.
If all that didn’t make you hungry, checkout some of the meal highlights from the last couple weeks:
Taco Extravaganza (una fiesta de gran sabor en nuestros bocas) and Turkey Tetrazini- Jocelyn
Chicken Caccitori and PIZZA (house special and Carbonara which blew me away) – Neil
Kingal beef and macaroni with garlic dill yogurt sauce (which I will be getting recipe for and eating at least once a week when I get out) and tomato chicken with fried potatoes – Allen
Ghanaian beef stew with rice balls (Our easy entry into Ghanaian food, I am so down for more I can’t wait) and dahl and curry – Martha
Red Beans and Rice (I ate about 4 pounds, literally couldn’t stop eating, it was out of this world!) and Fried Rice – Zak
Stay tuned for more, and let us know if you’ve got a recipe you think we’d like to try adapting to the wonderful world of freeze-dried culinary experimentation.