Matt's The Gumbo Man And He's Sharing Secrets

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Photo by Leslie Kelly
Matthew Lewis and one of his fans at the Queen Anne Farmers Market. The Where Ya At Matt truck's there on Thursdays.
There are about a gazillon recipes for gumbo, that dark, rich, thick stew with deep ties to New Orleans. Many are closely held family secrets, passed down through generations. Crescent City native Matthew Lewis -- the man behind Where Ya At Matt -- learned at the stove of his his aunt. Making gumbo takes patience, stirring that roux until it turns bubbly and nut brown. It's hot work, though the finished dish doesn't have to be fiery in the spice department. Making gumbo is a labor of love and Matt's passing it on to his growing army of hungry fans. Read more about Seattle's hottest food truck in part one and part two of this week's Grillaxin, then go and get your gumbo on.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

2 pounds Andouille sausage, cut in half moons

2 pounds chicken thighs, diced

3 large onions, chopped

2 Bell Peppers, diced

4 celery ribs, diced

2 Tbs garlic, minced

1 cup oil, canola

1 cup flour, All Purpose

1 gallon chicken stock

3 Bay Leaves

2 cups tomatoes, diced

2 cups okra, sliced (best place to find okra is at Asian markets)

½ cup Worcestershire Sauce

½ cup Creole spice

Kosher salt, to taste

Hot pepper sauce, to taste

Splash of sherry vinegar

Saute the andouille sausage in a large stock pot being careful not to burn it. Remove the sausage, reserve about 2 Tbsp of the oil from the sausage at the bottom of the pot and sauté the chicken, remember to season it with salt and pepper. Once chicken is browned on all side remove and set aside with the andouille reserving about 3Tbs of oil in the bottom of the pot.

Dice the onion, bell peppers and celery. (In Creole cooking, these three vegetables together are called the trinity.) Add the diced trinity and caramelize until soft. (Caramelize means to cook them on high heat adding color to the vegetables but not burning - adjust the temperature as needed to achieve this.) Add the garlic and sauté for 3 more minutes. Your kitchen should have the amazing aroma of good cooking at this point! Add the Andouille and chicken back to the trinity and turn off the heat.

The roux:To a heavy bottom sauté pan, preferably a cast iron pan, add the oil and heat almost to the smoking point. (You will notice that the oil begins to shimmer and starts to move on it own at this point. You can test with a pinch of flour and see if it bubbles, once it does you are ready.) To the dancing oil, add the flour while whisking constantly. The oil will bubble and settle quickly.

Add enough flour to the mix so that it looks like wet sand at low tide. Never, ever stop stirring, you want a constant bubbling and remember to clean the edges of the pot often. This is Creole napalm so you may want to wear long sleeves at this point. Keep stirring until you reach your desired color, I like a nice café au lait color. Once color is achieved, add the roux to the trinity mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Adjust the temperature so that the gumbo remains at a slow simmer. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and okra and simmer another hour. Add the Worcestershire, creole spice, hot sauce and adjust the salt to your liking. Just before serving you may want to add a couple of drops of sherry vinegar to brighten up the flavor. Traditionally this dish is served with rice, (or a scoop of potato salad!) but it's is your choice!

 
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