New Orleans Dinner Party

Gumbopot
It was probably the slew of food magazines last month with recipes from New Orleans that got me thinking about making jambayala for a dinner party.  It was stuck in my head.  When I asked the people who we invited if there were any food allergies or dislikes I got back a few random ones like nettles but the one that truly stuck out was one person was allergic to all things gluten.  I figured I am always up for a challenge so why not. 

I decided I should change from jambalaya to gumbo because of the rice.  Fast forward I now know that rice is gluten free and I could have made a jambalaya but I didn't.  I decided to make gumbo.  When you make gumbo you need to start with a roux.  A roux is a mixture of flour and butter.  Instead I made a roux with clarified butter and brown rice flour.  The word rice should have made me have an aha moment but unfortunately that did not happen until much later. 

This is a time consuming recipe but well worth it.  I started by making a stock.  I made the gumbo on Sunday for a Tuesday dinner party.  The shrimp leftover from making the stock (you only use the shells for the stock) was Sunday lunch. I bought fresh shrimp for Tuesday on Tuesday.

STOCK:

3 lbs of medium sized shrimp shelled (separate shells from shrimps)

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

18 cups of clam juice (yes 18 cups)

1 medium sweet onion chopped up

2 celery ribs chopped

2 large carrots chopped

8 bay leaves

In a large stock pot cover the bottom with vegetable oil.  When the oil is hot add in the shrimp shells.  Bring the heat down to medium and saute until the shells begin to turn brown.  About 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and mix thoroughly for about 2 more minutes.  Add in the rest.  Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for 25/30 minutes.  Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a heat proof bowl ( I had to use two bowls) and set aside.

ROUX:

Making the glutten free roux.  If you want to make a regular roux use flour instead.  I clarified the butter because I wanted to use butter instead of oil because it does not burn. 

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 cup clarified butter

In a large deep frying pan put in the clarified butter and brown rice flour.  Whisk at a medium high heat to become a paste.  This will eventually settle down into a thick mixture.  Keep stirring (I used a wooden spoon with a straight edge).  It can take a good 30/60 minutes depending on many factors.  At first the color is a very light brown but over time the roux becomes more caramel in color.  It can change from a deep golden to black in seconds so it is important to stay on top of the roux.  Once it begins to get a deep caramel color take it off the heat and set aside.

GUMBO:

1 large onion chopped

3 ribs celery chopped

1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)

2 red peppers sliced and chopped

1 lb. okra sliced into 1/2" rounds

1 tbsp. chilli powder

1 tbsp. paprika

1 1/2 tbsp. file powder (key factor here and you can buy online at penzeys)

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. cayenne powder

1 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. kosher salt (or more for taste)

3 lbs medium shrimp (shelled and devined)

1 1/2 lbs lump crab meat

2 lbs. andouille sausage cut into 1/2' slices and then cut in half again

In a large stockpot (I used a Le Cruset pot) cover the bottom with vegetable oil over a high heat.  Add the onions and celery.  Cook until they begin to soften.  Now add the warm roux and cook until it begins to bubble.  Add in the stock that you had set aside earlier and the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then down to simmer.  Let this stand on the stove for about an hour and a half.  I put the top half way on.  Once in awhile give this a stir so the bottom doesn't stick.

In a separate frying pan heat a little more vegetable oil.  Add all the spices, red pepper and okra.  Cook on a medium heat for about five minutes until completely combined.  It should smell really good.  Take a little bit of the liquid from the gumbo pot and put it in this pan.  That way you can loosen up everything in the pan.  Now pour everything from the frying pan into the big pot of gumbo.  Bring to a boil again and then down to a simmer.  Let this simmer for another hour.

When this was over I took the gumbo off the heat.  If it isn't thick enough just let it simmer longer.  I found the taste not as interesting as I wanted it.  I took about 1/4 cup of sherry and tossed it into the gumbo.  That was it.  When the gumbo cooled I put it in the refrigerator until Tuesday.

Gumbobowl
Tuesday around mid-day I took the gumbo out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.  I warmed it up and let it simmer for about 40 minutes before dinner was on.  Earlier in the day I had pan fried the andouille sausage and added it to the pot while it came to room temperature so the flavors could meld.  Then right before serving the gumbo I added in the raw shrimp and crab.  Once the shrimp was thoroughly cooked I served the gumbo over a bed of white rice.

A seriously long process but well worth it.  Delicious. 

Spinachsalad
We started with a salad of baby spinach mixed with sliced red onions and a blue cheese dressing.  I fried oysters in a mixture of cornmeal and brown rice flour (2 cups cornmeal and 1 cup brown rice flour).  I dipped the oysters in eggs and then dipped into the cornmeal mixture and then deep fried.  I served that on top of the salad. 

Bananasplit
For dessert….banana splits.  I made a chocolate sauce, strawberry mixture and wet nuts earlier in the day.  I scooped out the ice cream right before serving and put each banana split together.  When I do this again I am going to scoop the ice cream in the day in each boat and let it sit in the freezer.  Right before serving I will make the splits then the ice cream won't melt and it will be easier to serve…and look better.  Strawberry ice cream had the strawberry mixture on top, chocolate ice cream with the chocolate sauce and the vanilla ice cream with a dulce de leche sauce.  Wet nuts over the entire thing with a scoop of whipped cream and of course a cherry on top.