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Crab Gumbo

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What we have here is the baby born out of my first draft of Gumbo. Just like last time, this was influenced heavily by a recent post at No Recipes.

What we also have here is a new category on Food Goes In Mouth: Oops!.

I think a good percentage of food bloggers subscribe to a philosophy of “If it aint good, don’t blog it.” That’s just fine, and I understand why. Personally, I don’t want this blog to become one of a million databases of amateur home recipes. I find it boring. I imagine you, my tiny band of readers, would find it boring.

Honestly, I fuck up food more times than I get it right, but usually in small, controlled doses with one or two ingredients. Little experiments. But if I shared every minor success and failure that would be both boring and exhausting. I don’t need to post multiple times a day because I successfully microwaved a burrito or added too much pepper to some rice.

I’m just going to divulge in the true disasters. Like this:

What I Used

  • Chicken Stock, homemade
  • Celery, chopped
  • Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
  • Onion, sliced
  • Flour
  • Goose Fat
  • Sage, fresh
  • Bay Leaves
  • 86% Cacao Chocolate, chopped
  • Andouille Sausage, diced
  • Crab Meat, fresh
  • Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper

What I Did, Part 1

  1. In a cast iron pot, render one part goose fat. (That’s it in the picture above.)
  2. In another pot, bring the chicken stock to barely a simmer.
  3. Slowly add equal part flour and stir like you’ve never stirred before for about half an hour over medium-high heat until the roux reaches a chocolate brown.
  4. Add vegetables, herbs, spices and sausage then reduce heat, letting the roux mixture cool.
  5. While stirring, add 6 parts chicken broth. Bring to a boil and if the gumbo seems too thick, add more broth until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Earlier that afternoon I went to Port San Luis, picked some fresh live crabs out of the tank at Pete’s Pierside, and had them cooked for me. At this point I pulled some of the cooled crab meat out of the refrigerator and stuck it on top of a bowl of this Gumbo with some steamed rice at the bottom. This is delicious. This is what you see at the top of this post.

But wait, the chocolate! Everything so far, except for the goose fat, is pretty standard. The addition of some chocolate was the one serious deviation I had planned, so when a roomate said, “Hey, did you put any of the chocolate in here?” I said, “Oh shit!” I was excited to add this in and see what happened.

Now, in my head the chocolate would primarily change the color and consistency of the sauce more than the flavor. This may still be a good idea or a horrible one, but I wouldn’t know, because this is…:

What I Did, Part 2

  1. Blow culinary load prematurely and add too much chocolate to the Gumbo. Change dish name to Nicely Spiced Chocolate Soup. Ruined.

How frustrating! I took so much care bringing a roux to that color for the first time. How could I just go dumping so much of a strong ingredient in with reckless abandon? Ruining a dish with that much love in it can knock the happy out of you, and it took me a full day to come out of it and say: Screw it. You learned. Time to move on.

So there you have it. Go ahead and do all the steps but the last one. Hell, go ahead and do the last one without foolishly rushing things and let me know if a little chocolate does work well to finish a Gumbo. Or if it doesn’t work well, I’d appreciate knowing that as well.

I have another “Oops!” I need to share with everyone soon, but it will require a story…

7 Comments

Now I can’t publish my post about microwaved burritos & over-peppered rice. Thanks, jerk.

Congratulations on being the first person to use the phrase, “Blow culinary load prematurely”

Thanks Chris. I’m sure my grandma will be proud. Hi grandma.

If you put the microwave burrito atop the over-peppered rice though… that would be something epic.

One thing for sure, your food blogs make me laugh! Wish we lived close enough to test out some of your dishes – but then when you visit you cook for us and it is like having our own chef!

So often, I try to add too much of a good thing, and this is what happens. it’s tough to remember to start small, and add more of you need it, especially if it’s an ingredient you love.

But i have to say, it looks great, even if it was a tad too chocolatey.

Love that you post a FAIL–a non-example is WAY more powerful than an example.

Sucks about adding too much chocolate–I’ve over-cinnamoned my spaghetti sauce before, so I feel your pain. Personally, I always add a wee handful of cocoa powder or bitter choc to my chili, but I’ve not thought of adding it to Cajun dishes. It’s usually just my Ode to Quetzalcoatl, but I’m thinking that the characteristic bitterness–used in a judicious manner;)–would lend itself to Cajun cooking as well, especially considering that you are using cayenne and Other Peppers in your gumbo. I would suggest maybe not taking the roux as dark if you’re going to use chocolate–bitter plus bitter might just be Too Much. Will be interested to read Part Deux, when you deux it:)

Just found you on Twitter because of #followfriday. Will be following your updates on your blog as well. Have a great week-end.

The posting of epic failures is brilliant! Sometimes I feel I post so infrequently that I need to post everything I accomplish. It’s nice to be reminded that readers don’t necessarily expect things to go swimmingly all the time.

I have to admit, “Blow culinary load prematurely” is also brilliant. :)

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Caleb Troughton is a professional front-end web developer and amateur food enthusiast. He loves to cook, write, code, and refer to himself in the third person.

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