Winter Gumbo

In Jerusalem Artichoke, Recipe by Sean12 Comments

Winter Gumbo

With Crab, Sausage, & Sunchoke

This recipe was born from a strong hankering for a rich, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs gumbo, and a decision to try and cook a meal with local ingredients and scratch methods (i.e. no sauces or broths).  As you can probably tell from this recipe (and my take on food in general), I’m no purist.  This is not Louisiana gumbo.  But there’s a good reason for that; I’m not in Louisiana.  This is an example of what you can do with a cooking style adapted to local ingredients.  Call it Pacific Northwest Gumbo if you want to.  Oh, and on that note – I realize that not every part of the world is lucky enough to have things like crab available as a local food, so feel free to either adapt a bit, or ditch the whole locavore concept for this dish.

The key to this gumbo (and all good gumbos) is the roux.  I personally hate tending a roux on the stovetop, so I like to follow Alton Brown’s baked roux instructions.  It’s more or less foolproof, as long as you’ve got the time to do it right.

I fully admit that this gumbo commits Cajun sacrilege by omitting celery and bell peppers.  I wanted to cook local, and it was December.  Instead, I tried to come up with something of an “alternative holy trinity” – kale stalks and golden beets do the heavy lifting in place of green peppers and celery.  Yes, seriously.  The other secret to this particular gumbo is the Jerusalem artichoke.  At first, they might just seem like a miscellaneous starch filler, but the unique character of this vegetable actually adds a distinctly sweet edge that partners really well with the crab and the rich, bold roux.

Recipe Notes

ROUX

If you’ve never made a Cajun style roux before, I strongly urge you to do a little reading about them first. They’re not exactly difficult (especially if you use the oven method I’ve linked to above), but you want to make sure you’re able to recognize when it’s done. Ideally, you want it to get to an even, dark-copper colour (like an old penny).

One of the keys to a good roux is getting an exact 1:2 ratio of oil to flour. I strongly encourage you to use a kitchen scale to get this right, but if you don’t have one, I’ve provided approximate volume measures. Be aware the the density of flour can make volume measurements unreliable, so make sure to keep an eye on the roux as it cooks and trouble-shoot if necessary.

If you have trouble getting your roux to the ‘old penny’ colour in the oven, take it out and put it onto the stovetop and cook CAREFULLY over medium heat, stirring regularly. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to finish off.

If you like making your roux on the stove top, there’s no reason you can’t do that here.

BEETS

Golden beets have much of the earthy, bold taste of their red cousins, but lack the aggressive, overwhelming character (not to mention the tendency to turn everything pink). I don’t recommend that you substitute red beets, but if you can’t find golden beets, you might try a bit of turnip or rutabaga.

OTHER NOTES

This recipe does not call for filé powder (ground sassafras leaves), but you can include some if you can find it and if you enjoy it. It is not essential to thicken the gumbo; many traditional Cajun recipes only call for it to be used at the end of cooking as a garnish anyway.

You can adapt this a little depending on what’s available and in season for you, and you could still use celery and bell peppers in the vegetable mixture if you wanted to achieve something a little more classically Cajun. That being said, I strongly urge you to seek out the Jerusalem artichokes, as they bring a lot to the dish.

Try your best to find andouille sausage, as there’s really nothing like it.  If you live in the Lower Mainland of BC like me, Oyama on Granville Island is the place to go.  If you can’t score any, try to find a good, flavourful smoked sausage to use as a replacement.


Nutrition Facts
Winter Gumbo
Amount Per Serving
Calories 425 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 35%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 64mg 21%
Sodium 649mg 27%
Potassium 881mg 25%
Total Carbohydrates 39g 13%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 11g
Protein 18g 36%
Vitamin A 308%
Vitamin C 68%
Calcium 12%
Iron 28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

GOOD NEWS:
As gumbo goes, this is pretty healthy stuff. There is a fair bit of fat, but this is balanced by a nutrient-dense, veggie-rich base. Because it eschews stocks or soup bases, it’s also quite low in sodium.

BAD NEWS:
Andouille sausage is delicious, but quite fatty. Try to find a good quality one, as a lot of the cheaper varieties are simply loaded with fat (and are less flavourful).

Ingredient Pages

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.


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Winter gumbo with crab, andouille sausage, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, and golden beets - Diversivore.com
Winter Gumbo
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Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 1.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 1.5 hours
Winter gumbo with crab, andouille sausage, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, and golden beets - Diversivore.com
Winter Gumbo
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 1.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 1.5 hours
Ingredients
Roux
Gumbo
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
Roux
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk together the oil and flour in a large, heavy cast-iron pot or very deep frying pan. The mixture will be quite thick, but you should still be able to get all of the flour soaked into the oil.
  3. Place the cast iron pot/pan in the oven and bake uncovered for 1-1.5 hours, stirring 2-3 times during this process. The roux is finished when it reaches a deep, reddish brown colour, not unlike an old penny.
Gumbo
  1. While the roux is cooking, clean the crab thoroughly, and steam it using about 1 liter of water. A 900 g (2 lb) crab will need to be steamed for 15 minutes. If scaling up or down, use 7-8 minutes per 450 g (1 lb).
  2. Skim and scum or debris from the water used to steam the crab. You will use this steaming water as a stock for the gumbo. Add enough water to make 2 liters, and set aside.
  3. Crack the crab and pick out all the meat.
  4. Dice the onion, golden beets, and kale stems and set aside. Coarsely chop the kale leaves and keep them separate from the other vegetables.
  5. Peel and coarsely dice the Jerusalem artichokes. Add the chopped tubers to a small bowl of water with some vinegar or lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.
  6. Peel, seed, and cut the butternut squash into 1 cm (~1/2 inch) cubes. Set aside.
  7. Once the roux is cooked, remove it from the oven and transfer it to the stove top and heat on medium. Add the onion, kale stems, and beets. Stir together and cook for 2-3 minutes, taking care not to burn the roux. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.
  8. (Note: if you've used a shallow pan, you'll have to transfer the roux-vegetable combination to a deeper pot at this point) Add the sage, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the roux. Slowly begin adding the crab broth a little at a time, whisking to combine with the roux. Once all of the broth has been added, reduce the heat to low.
  9. Add the sausage, Jerusalem artichoke, and squash, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in the crab meat and the kale. Cover and allow to sit, away for 5-10 minutes. Serve as is, or over cooked long grain white rice.
Recipe Notes

ROUX

One of the keys to a good roux is getting an exact 1:2 ratio of oil to flour.  I strongly encourage you to use a kitchen scale to get this right, but if you don't have one, I've provided approximate volume measures.  Be aware the the density of flour can make volume measurements unreliable, so make sure to keep an eye on the roux as it cooks and trouble-shoot if necessary.

If you have trouble getting your roux to the 'old penny' colour in the oven, take it out and put it onto the stovetop and cook CAREFULLY over medium heat, stirring regularly.  It shouldn't take more than a few minutes to finish off.

If you like making your roux on the stove top, there's no reason you can't do that here.

BEETS

Golden beets have much of the earthy, bold taste of their red cousins, but lack the aggressive, overwhelming character (not to mention the tendency to turn everything pink).  I don't recommend that you substitute red beets, but if you can't find golden beets, you might try a bit of turnip or rutabaga.

FILÉ POWDER

This recipe does not call for filé powder (ground sassafras leaves), but you can include some if you can find it and if you enjoy it.  It is not essential to thicken the gumbo; many traditional Cajun recipes only call for it to be used at the end of cooking as a garnish anyway.

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Comments

  1. This page is delicious and makes me wish I could just put my laptop into the oven and cook it. Please add artichokes in an upcoming update.

  2. Pingback: Winter Must Have Soups - Treat Yourself Sweeter

  3. Looks like I found my next “meat is a treat” meal. Seriously, I need to do an “ode to diversivore” on the blog one of these days! Love your recipes!

    1. Author

      Thank you so much Melanie! I’m truly flattered. I love your work too, and it’s always special when someone you respect notices and enjoys what you do! This is a great ‘meat-is-a-treat’ meal too, as you don’t really need that much meat in it. I make sure to buy a great, locally produced Andouille, and of course the crab is local here too, but I’m sure the meat components could be tweaked a little to local tastes and ingredients. The veggies really shine here too, which is awesome in a meat dish as far as I’m concerned. They shouldn’t be second-class ingredients!

  4. Hi Sean, I love this gumbo. The sun chokes which I find mist people don’t know but love that flavor they give, along with the golden beets, and the heat from the andouille sausage all simmered in that sauce makes me think of cold winter days sitting watching the snow fall and hugging a bowl of this delicious bowl of goodness. Great work on this one Sean. I did a gumbo in a slow cooker which turned out quite well too.
    Have a great weekend!
    Cheers!
    Loreto

    1. Author

      Lots of people are unfamiliar with sunchokes, and it’s a total shame. They’re delicious, different, easy to work with, and they grow like weeds (in fact, you need to be very careful growing them, as they will EASILY overtake a garden). The gumbo is definitely a cold-weather-delight, and it does a lot to get you going on a rainy (or snowy) winter day. I haven’t done a gumbo in a slow cooker yet – because I bake my roux, I’ve never thought about trying it. But I can see how it’d be worth doing – a hands-off gumbo would be really nice to have on a busy, cold wintry weekday.

  5. I’m absolutely loving this alternative take on gumbo, especially the sunchokes… they’re such an underused (and underappreciated) ingredient, and as much as I love sunchokes and quickly snap them up when I happen to see them at the store, I never quite know what to do with them once I get them home. Will totally have to try this out the next time I spot some!

    1. Author

      Thank you Isabelle! They’re all over the place here now and it’s really making me want to cook this again! I completely agree with you – they’re underused and underappreciated! They’ve got an amazing and distinct sweetness thanks to their inulin content, but because inulin is indigestible, they’re low in calories and generally quite healthy. If you give the gumbo (or a variation) a spin, do let me know!

  6. Sean, I love the way you’ve put a PNW spin on this traditional Louisianna dish! I think it’s important to think about our “terroir” and even, what some chefs call our “merroir”— the way seafood reflects the flavour of the waters in which it’s grown. Customizing recipes by using what’s available to us locally makes for incredibly interesting and flavourful dishes!

    1. Author

      Thank you Elaine! I’m in complete agreement. I’m all for honest and traditional cooking, but I think we get a little too wrapped up in doing something in one very specific way. I mean, I wouldn’t expect to eat this in New Orleans – but I’m not in New Orleans now am I? You see the same thing with sushi – high end establishments looking for very specific (and often over-fished) species used traditionally in Tokyo, all the while ignoring the amazing fish in the waters around their own homes. I think some truly great foods are often created by people working with the traditions and techniques of another place while adapting to the spectacular ingredients they have access too. I’m glad to know you feel that way too.

  7. Delicious looking gumbo! Instead of cooking the roux separately could you saute the vegetables etc. in the fat then add the flour, cool out on the stove top until nice and dark brown and then add the broth? Or does preparing the roux separately create a different flavor. I kinda want to try this recipe with halibut!

    1. Author

      Thanks Markus! I’ve never heard of anyone cooking a Cajun roux with other ingredients added – given that there’s a fairly delicate balance between fat and flour, I’d imagine you might mess up the ratio by cooking vegetables in it, as they’d absorb some of the fat (and release some water). That being said, I’m only giving it an educated guess! I tend to think that the separate roux is fundamental to gumbo though, especially given how dark and toasted a Cajun roux is when compared to a French roux. I think this would be amazing with halibut! I am pretty partial to the shellfish/sausage combo myself, but I have a hard time saying no to a good halibut dish!

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