As I have mentioned (about 100 times), I am both a graduate and fan of The Ohio State University. A number of years ago my beloved Buckeyes were playing in the National Championship football game against a team from the University of Florida. For those who don’t know, the mascot of the Florida team is the gators. In preparation for the game I decided to throw my allegiance behind my palate and cook up some gator.
Here is Ohio, gator is not a common occurrence. Venison, ostrich and bison are in a few meat cases, but it is rather difficult to find the reptile. This was rectified by a trip to my favorite foodie shopping place, Cleveland’s West Side Market. It is a classic farmer’s market that has been in operation for over 100 years and there are dozens of stalls that sell all kinds of foods. Lucky for me, one of the seafood stands had some gator.
I made some gumbo and in place of the chicken, I used gator. It was really quite tasty. The flavors of the awesome gumbo were a perfect complement to the meat and I had to say, yes, it tasted like chicken. Unfortunately my Buckeyes lost (badly) to the Gators, but I had the ultimate revenge on the animal!
This go-around, I didn’t get the gator, but used chicken thighs instead.
I decided to use salad shrimp for both their ease and their size so any single bite has room for more than just the shrimp.
The chicken and andouille already fried.
Making the roux. There is no step more critical to making gumbo than the making of the roux. If you don’t cook the roux too long the flavor is merely superficial. Too long and it has a burnt flavor. The key is to get it dark (stirring constantly) and on the verge of burning and quickly remove it from heat.
The roux coats everything and brings that deep, rich flavor.
Everything in the pot.
You cannot serve it without Tobasco! So wonderful!
Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 2 hr 25 min | Makes: 8 to 10 servings | Difficulty: Intermediate
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast halves, thighs or alligator tail meat
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound andouille smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons margarine
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
- 4 cups hot water
- 5 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
- 2 cups frozen or fresh sliced okra
- 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
- 1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
- Creole seasoning
Season the chicken/gator with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken/gator until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.
Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, creole seasoning and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken/gator and sausage. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.