Gumbolaya", a mix of Gumbo and Jambalaya, creates a stunning seafood chowder that's easy to make, low-cal and delicious. Serve with plain steamed rice
The making of - Gumbolaya
I wanted to make a seafood stew...dishy thing. Thought of Gumbo thought of Jambalaya, and thought they both sounded like right up the alley of my thoughts. So I did some investigation.
You know me, I like to bring maximum flavor to the table, but I want to make it easy to get on the table. I also want to get it on the table in a timely manner.
That timely manner is generally within an hour or less, in this case, it's the less. Dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
But as I investigated both Gumbo and Jambalaya recipes, I found, they are really very similar.
What's the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya?
One of the things I love about cooking, and developing recipes, is finding out about them. Both of these recipes originate in Louisiana, with Jambalaya being mostly influenced by Spanish and French cultures, and Gumbo having influences from many cultures, including Spanish and French, but also German, West Africa, and Choctaw Indian.
Both use the basic "Creole" trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper, both use the same meats, smoked sausage, chicken, and shrimp.
So what're the actual differences?
- Gumbo uses a dark roux to start - Jambalaya does not.
- Gumbo is served with the rice on the side - Jambalaya is made with the rice in the dish.
- Gumbo uses a fish or clam stock - Jambalaya does not.
- Gumbo contains okra and filé powder - Jambalaya does not.
Basically, that's it. That's all that is different between the two dishes - well, except perhaps that Gumbo is the "Official" dish of the State of Louisiana.
The OFFICIAL dish!
Taking the samenesses and differences into account, I decided to call my dish Gumbolaya because:
I don't like Okra and didn't add it.
I didn't have filé powder so didn't use that.
I wanted to start with the rich dark roux that makes Gumbo so delicious.
The Taming of the Roux
A roux is simply combining equal amounts of fat and flour and cooking it until it's thickened and brown - the depth of the brown depends on the dish and for Gumbo you want it to be very deep in color - almost red-brown. The only way to accomplish this is, once the pan is hot and the oil is hot, stir in the flour and stir, constantly, until it begins to go dark. Then I find, turning the heat down slightly, keeps it cooking and browning, but saves it from burning.
If you burn the roux, toss it and begin again.
Making a good dark roux might take 5 - 10 minutes. Don't rush it.
Once you've got the roux right, the "holy trinity" sautéed and soft, the rest is pretty, binga banga boom.
The Meaty Part
You can use either white meat or dark meat chicken. Dark meat is more traditional, but I found sliced boneless skinless chicken breast worked great, cooked up quickly, and provided the flavor I wanted. If you prefer to use dark meat, like a cut-up boneless skinless chicken thigh, I would probably simmer the meat in the sauce for 10 minutes longer then the breast.
The sausage must be a smoked sausage. While Andouille sausage is used most often, I used kielbasa, turkey kielbasa to be exact, in my preparation. It provided the same meatiness, smokiness, and texture, but with much less fat and calories.
Shrimps may be large or small. Shelled and deveined, tails off. I happened to have some rather small shrimps, (70/90 count per pound) since these were the only size I could find that were wild-caught, and not from China or Vietnam where they are known to "inject" saline into the shrimp to up their per pound weight.
Do NOT buy those shrimp!
The small shrimps actually worked excellent in the dish as they were already "bite-size" and cooked quickly.
So that is how I came up with my recipe for Gumbolaya. A perfect blend of two great classic Creole dishes - that are just so close - and yet...
Gumbolaya and Cornbread? Yes, please.
- ¼ cup neutral oil I like grapeseed
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced bell pepper I used red and yellow
- 2 large stalks celery diced (about ¾ to 1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic about 4 large cloves
- ¼ cup dry white wine or white vermouth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice (lightly chopped)
- ¾ cup fish stock or clam juice
- ¾ cup low-salt or homemade chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf torn
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Dash or three Louisiana Hot Pepper Sauce or Tabasco®
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces diced chicken dark or white meat
- 6 ounces sliced Andouille sausage or sub Turkey kielbasa
- 8 ounces shrimp shelled and deveined
- Cooked rice for serving
- In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until very hot, add the flour and, while stirring constantly, cook until the mixture is reddish-brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, peppers, and celery, and cook until the soft and tender, stirring occasional - about 10 minutes. Add the garlic along with the wine. Stir until thick, then add the tomatoes, with juice, fish stock or clam juice, broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, cayenne, and hot sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken and cook until the chicken is done, add the sausage and shrimp and simmer about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with rice.