Alaskan Gumbo-licious

More life has been shared over a bowl of gumbo in our family than most other recipes. So when I come home to Alaska it’s always on my daughter’s “mom-must-cook” list. Our gumbo is one of those recipes I have scribbled in a notebook with no measurements but always seems to turn out just right. 

I am primarily a vegetarian, rarely touching red meat, but I cannot resist reindeer sausage when I’m home. Gumbo is the perfect opportunity to satisfy my craving for a little Rudolph in my diet! 

Mostly I’ve made 15 minute white roux but our friend, Larry the Cajun, came to check on his cows and inspired me to go the scenic route with roux this time.  Larry also shared a piece of Cajun history when he visited that day: Acadians who were kicked out of Nova Scotia were marked with an X at the end of their sir name and sent south. Roux ends with an X.  Canada’s loss our gain. 

Tonight I lovingly stirred this roux for an hour until it was the creamiest peanut buttery colour. The ratio is easy: 

3/4 c oil or butter

3/4 c flour

Heat your fat of choice and slowly incorporate the flour. It’s a labor of love constantly stirring over low heat. The longer you cook your roux the more flavor it will give your gumbo. You can go as far as a copper coloured roux and even brick roux. Low heat and movement are your best friends as your roux is at risk of burning if you take short cuts. You’ll know it’s burnt if black specks appear and then you might as well toss it and start over. 

Once your roux is as dark as you like add your spices:

Salt, cayenne, sage, rosemary, oregano, 2 bay leaves and lots of thyme 

Next add chopped veggies and cook until softened:

1/2 onion

1 bell pepper

4 cloves garlic

4 sticks of celery 

Now toss in 2 chicken breasts and reindeer sausage cut into bite size chunks. If you don’t have access to reindeer, andouille sausage is traditional. 

Once there’s a caramelization on the meat add a 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes, 32 oz of chicken broth and a bag of frozen okra (or fresh if you have it).  

Let simmer for 30 minutes while you cook white rice. 

A scoop of rice in the bottom of the bowl and a scoop of gumbo on top will set everything right in the world. Enjoy your family. Make memories. 


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