A stew as dark and murky as the Louisiana swamps it hails from, gumbo comes in many variations, the protein combinations traditionally dictated by whatever was trapped or caught that day.
The key to a good gumbo is a complex roux base - the darker, the better.
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
- 350 g (12 oz) andouille sausage, cut into large pieces
- 1 rabbit, cut into large pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 green capsicum (bell pepper), diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) chicken stock
- 2 tbsp hot sauce
- boiled white rice, to serve
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp garlic granules
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the roux, combine the flour and oil in a skillet. Stir slowly over low heat until it transforms to a dark ‘mud’, which can take up to an hour.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and brown the sausage on both sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.
To make the Cajun seasoning, put all the ingredients in a jar, firmly screw on the lid and shake to combine. Season the rabbit pieces on both sides using ¾ tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning. Add another tablespoon of the oil to the pot. Working in batches, add the rabbit and brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.
Add the final tablespoon of oil to the pot, then add the ‘trinity’, the onion, celery and capsicum, plus the garlic. Cook for 5-7 minutes to soften the vegetables, stirring and picking up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the bay leaves, cayenne pepper and another ¾ tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add the roux to the pot with the onion mixture and stir well to combine everything. Add one ladle of warm stock to the roux mixture, stirring as you pour it in. Continue to add one ladle of stock at a time until all the stock is incorporated.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then return the rabbit and sausage to the pot. Discard any excess fat that has accumulated from the sausage and do not pour it back into the pot (the fat will pool on the surface).
Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 45–60 minutes, until the rabbit is tender. Remove the rabbit pieces from the pot and pick the meat off the bones. Return the meat to the pot, discarding the bones. Make sure you remove the rabbit pieces before the meat is completely falling off the bone; rabbit has some very small bones that may end up in the finished gumbo if you leave it cooking for too long.
Increase the heat to a vigorous simmer, then add the hot sauce. Cook for a further 5 minutes to warm the rabbit pieces. Serve in bowls ladled over boiled rice.
• If you can't find andouille (a Cajan smoked sausage), you can substitute it with good-quality chorizo or another smoked pork sausage.
• This recipe will make about 150 g (5 ½ oz) of the Cajun seasoning. Any not used for the gumbo can be stored for months in a tightly sealed jar for your next dish.
Recipe from Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles (Murdoch Books, hb, $39.99).