This is a recipe with a story behind it. And it’s a wonderful story.
First, let me remind everyone that here at Bayou Woman, we’ve cooked shrimp stew and chicken and andouille gumbo, both pretty good representations of down-the-bayou cooking. But today, I’m going to make it easy for all of you who hail from places north, east and west to make a surprisingly tasty gumbo without having to make the (in)famous roux.
Okay, now, the rest of you just stop with the head shaking and jaw flapping because I can already hear your outrage, complaints and objections. But bear with me, because this dish has a special place in my heart and is at the top of the list of our family favorites, including The Captain, who’s been eating genuine bayou cooking his whole life.
The Story. Back in the mid eighties, my father was forced into early retirement at the age of 55 and decided to invade Mom’s kitchen by trying new and adventurous recipes. And this is one of those recipes.
The original recipe was formulated by two little old women in Shreveport, Louisiana, and they called it “Oven Jambalaya”. In case you don’t know, jambalaya is the South Louisiana rice dish comparable to fried rice, but darker and more spicy.
So Daddy proceeded to make it according to their recipe, but he wasn’t really crazy about it. Rather than trash the recipe altogether, he decided to make it on top of the stove, cook the rice separate, and serve it over the rice. That is the way I first tasted it, and it was delicious.
I then brought the recipe home to bayou country and made it for my family, including The Captain, who suggested I take some to his dad, “The Old Man”. At this point, I must remind you of a slight language barrier between me and the bayou people back then. They spoke better French than English, and I spoke almost no French at all. The exchange went like this:
Me: “Here, I brought you some jambalaya to try. It’s a recipe my daddy makes.”
The Old Man: “Dat don’t look lak no jambalaya mais, cher!”
Me: “No, it doesn’t, because Daddy decided to cook the rice separate.”
The Old Man: “La Vieux, donner un cuillere pour assayer ca ici.” (“Old Lady, give me a spoon for me to try this.”)
He tastes. I wait. He indulges. I wait.
He breaks into a huge smile and says, “Mais I know what dis is. Dis is a Redneck Gumbo!”
Every time I cooked this meal, I sent him a plate, and he lovingly shortened the name to “Redneck” and we still call it that. MuzicMan, my son-in-law, recently tried it for the first time and loved it, too.
1 pound shrimp, peeled
1 pound andouille (or smoked sausage), sliced
1 can French onion soup
1 can beef broth
1-2 cans water
1/2 stick butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
small can sliced mushrooms (optional)
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
serves 4-6 (easily doubled)
caution: do not add salt,
as the soup, broth, and sausage make this recipe salty enough
The bell pepper is not in the photo because sometimes I cheat and buy the “trinity” already chopped and in containers.
Saute` vegetables in butter until starting to soften being careful not to burn the butter.
Add sliced sausage, stir, and simmer a while longer.
Now add the shrimp and let them simmer until slightly cooked . . .
like this . . . a pretty salmon color.
Now, add the liquids, with one can of water (and add more water later if the sauce tastes too strong for you). Stir until all elements are blended well.
Now add the cayenne pepper and drained sliced mushrooms, if you desire.
Cover, and simmer on low for about half an hour.
Serve over cooked rice, with a side of creamy bayou potato salad, and French bread.
So if you haven’t tried to make gumbo because the roux was too intimidating, I just set you free from that fear! I’m looking forward to reports from those of you who rushed right out and found the ingredients to make this easy and pleasing dish!
Every comment (except mine) on this post will be entered into a random drawing for this Community Coffee canister! Winner will be announced Saturday!