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Author Topic: Any of y'all cook gumbo? (for 100 people)
Brian J. Hill
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I teach high school French in Wyoming. Our French club decided to host a Mardi Gras Dinner/Fundraiser, and as the club advisor, I'm in charge of the cooking. On the menu is gumbo, dirty rice, and king cake. I thought I was keeping it simple by limiting the menu, until I realized how freakin' complicated gumbo, dirty rice, and king cake are.

I found several recipes, scaled the ingredients, and came up with the following plan (minus the king cake, which will be store bought.) Having never cooked gumbo before, I could REALLY use some help in making sure I don't have any major flaws with the recipe. I don't want it to be too salty (that would ruin the soup) or too spicy (the local tastes here don't much like spicy food. Hot sauce will be available on the side [Smile] )

Here's the recipes. Sorry for the length; as I said, they're really complicated!
quote:
Day 1 tasks

Shrimp Stock (no idea of yield, but guessing around 3 – 3 ½ quarts of thick stock)

Shells/legs from 20 lbs. shrimp (about 3 lbs of shells)
Water
Vegetable oil
5 small onions
5 carrots
3 celery
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
Sachet consisting of the following:
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed black peppercorns
1.5 c. fresh parsley, chopped
a little chicken broth

Prep

Peel Shrimp, rinse shells under cold water
Coarsely chop onions, carrots, and celery

Cooking
1. In a saucepan or stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring constantly, until shells are pink and fragrant.
4. Add chicken stock to loosen the fond and cook until reduced by half.
5. Add water to the pot to just past the level of the shrimp shells and add peppercorns, bay leaf, and thyme
6. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
7. Simmer for 45 minutes
8. Add parsley and garlic
9. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes
10. Strain stock, cool immediately

Cajun Roux (enough for Dirty Rice, and Gumbo for 100 people)

10 cups vegetable shortening
10 cups all-purpose flour


1. In large, saucepan (I don’t have cast iron, so I hope stainless should heat evenly enough) heat the shortening over medium heat until melted.
2. Slowly add flour, whisking constantly
3. Continue whisking constantly and cook over medium to medium-high heat until roux is dark brown and very fragrant. THIS WILL TAKE TIME. Allow at least an hour, and be patient. If it burns, you have to start over.
4. Cool and refrigerate Roux in air-tight container.

Day 2 tasks

Dirty Rice n’ Beans (yield 100 servings)

2.5 c. Cajun Roux
8 lb mild pork sausage
3 cans red beans
3 cans low-sodium kidney beans
15 small yellow onions
7 green bell peppers
3 red bell peppers
10 celery stalks
7.5 tsp garlic powder
5 tbsp cajun seasoning
30 c. beef stock
10 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
10 bay leaves
5 teaspoon dried thyme
5 teaspoon hot sauce
5 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 small bunches parsley, chopped
4 bunches green onions, chopped
75 c. cooked white rice

Prep
Cook rice according to directions
Seed and dice the peppers
Dice the onions and celery
Chop the parsley and green onions

Cooking

1. Heat large pot over medium heat. Add pork and cook until meat is browned.
2. Add ½ of onions, peppers, and celery and sauté for 2-3 minutes
3. Add dark roux and cook for additional 10 minutes.
4. Add Cajun seasoning, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, thyme, and crushed peppercorns
5. Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Add remaining onion, celery and bell pepper, cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
7. While this is going on, heat the beans in a separate pot.
8. Stir in beans, green onions and parsley.
9. Stir in cooked rice until completely incorporated

Gumbo for 100 people

10 pound kielbasa sausage, cut crosswise 1/2-inch thick pieces (half moons)
20 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (and decapitated)
20 medium onions, diced
20 celery stalks, diced
3 red bell peppers, seeded and dices
10 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 package powdered dried shrimp (this stuff is really salty, so I omitted all salt from the rest of the recipe)
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
30 bay leaves
Cajun seasoning
6 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. black pepper
4 tsp. dried thyme
5 oz dry filé powder
5 bunches green onions, chopped
2 small bunches parsley, chopped
2 dozen eggs
15 cups low-sodium chicken stock
15 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Shrimp stock you made yesterday
Roux you made yesterday

Prep

1. Dice the onions, clery, and peppers
2. chop the parsley and green onions

Cooking
1. Pour equal proportions of chicken broth, chicken stock, and shrimp stock into stockpots and add shrimp powder. Bring this to a boil, while you do steps 2-4.
2. Heat the roux in a pan. As it heats, brown the sausage pieces in a pan with a little oil. Also at the same time, sauté the shrimp in a pan with a little oil, and some Cajun seasoning, until the shrimp is pink. When shrimp is done, set it aside in a fridge until the gumbo is almost ready to be served.
3. When the roux is hot, add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until wilted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the sausage, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme, and garlic powder. Stir, and cook for 2 minutes.
5. SLOWLY add the roux mixture to the boiling stock/broth/powdered shrimp mixture.
6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
7. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the green onions, parsley, and filé powder. With the filé powder, make sure you don’t add too much, otherwise it will be too thick. Also, drop the eggs in the soup.

Thoughts?
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TomDavidson
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Your gumbo needs okra. [Smile]
And you are crazy.

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Brian J. Hill
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On both points, I agree with Tom. Especially the second point [Smile] . Unfortunately fresh okra is scarce 'round these here parts and frozen is "très cher" so I'm counting on the roux and filé powder to thicken it. I have no idea how much filé, though. Some recipes call to serve filé on the side because it's a strong flavor. What do y'all think?
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dkw
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I agree with Tom on both points.

Have you made these recipes before in smaller batches, or is this a jumping-in-the-deep-end thing?

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Jake
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What about changing things up and having members of the club bring in their own cajun dishes? That seems like it would be worlds more managable.
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ElJay
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How many people are going to be helping you prep? If there are 10 people peeling shrimp and chopping things, this might be feasible. If it's just you or you and an assistant, you're crazy. Also, how are your eyes with cutting onions? You're got 40 onions to be chopped in there, I could do it, but I know people who can't be within 20 feet of onions being chopped so with that many you should take it into account.

Are you doing this in the school's kitchen? If not, do you have enough refridgerator space for everything once it's done? Remember not to refridgerate hot, or it will raise the temperature of your fridge over safe food temps for everything in it.

And finally, why in the world are you making your own shrimp stock for this? If I was having a dinner party, sure, but for 100 people for a school fund raiser? Buy it. You're buying the chicken stock and broth, and with that many ingredients in the gumbo no one's going to know the difference. And that way you can get frozen, pre-peeled shrimp, too, which will save you a heck of a lot of time. (You may not be able to buy shrimp base, but you can get a jar of lobster base for $12, more than enough to make your 3.5 quarts of stock.)

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ElJay
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Ooooh, I just saw what you said about eliminating all the salt from the gumbo because the dried shrimp are so salty. That is such a bad idea. Seriously, are you going to be able to test this recipe in a smaller batch beforehand? With that much stuff, it's going to need more salt than is in the shrimp, especially since you're using low sodium broth and there's no salt in your shrimp stock recipe, which is a travesty in itself.
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The Rabbit
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Gumbo means Okra, literally. It is the word for Okra in the French creole language. Trying to make Gumbo without Okra is the equivalent of trying to make chicken soup without chicken. It's not just an issue of thickening the broth. It isn't Gumbo without Okra.

And BTW: Given that you are the French teacher and this is a French club activity that ought to be relevant.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Cajun Roux (enough for Dirty Rice, and Gumbo for 100 people)

10 cups vegetable shortening
10 cups all-purpose flour


1. In large, saucepan (I don’t have cast iron, so I hope stainless should heat evenly enough) heat the shortening over medium heat until melted.
2. Slowly add flour, whisking constantly
3. Continue whisking constantly and cook over medium to medium-high heat until roux is dark brown and very fragrant. THIS WILL TAKE TIME. Allow at least an hour, and be patient. If it burns, you have to start over.
4. Cool and refrigerate Roux in air-tight container.

Making that much Roux in one batch even in a very large pan is going to be a problem. I haven't ever tried making more than 1 cup. With that big a batch it will be almost impossible to get the flour to brown evenly. You want want to look into an oven method for making the Roux or make it in several smaller batches.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Gumbo means Okra, literally. It is the word for Okra in the French creole language. Trying to make Gumbo without Okra is the equivalent of trying to make chicken soup without chicken. It's not just an issue of thickening the broth. It isn't Gumbo without Okra.

And BTW: Given that you are the French teacher and this is a French club activity that ought to be relevant.

That's overstating it a bit. You might be right about the etymology, but gumbo that doesn't contain okra is definitely a thing.
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DustinDopps
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I don't know how helpful this will be, but there was a lady on Shark Tank who sold frozen gumbo bricks (google shows them at gumbobrick.com) that supposedly made gumbo really, really easy. I have not tasted them and have no idea if you can feasibly get some, but the investors were impressed and she got a deal.
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Brian J. Hill
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Jake - I decided against students bringing their own dishes because I wanted to introduce a cultural aspect to the project; though in hindsight it may be a better idea.

ElJay - Thanks for the advice about the salt. How much salt do you recommend I put in the shrimp stock? My worry is oversalting the food, since once that's happened you can't take it away. I can always add salt to taste.
Also, I have 2 French classes (about 40 students) helping me chop veggies, stir the roux (which will be divided into about 4 pots, thanks to your suggestion,) peel the shrimp, etc.

Rabbit - Thanks for the etymology of gumbo. That's something I'll have to share with my students. According to my own experience with Gumbo, there are forms of "true" gumbo that don't need okra as a thickener. After all, fresh okra is seasonal, and "traditional" Cajuns didn't always have freezers to store it. That's what the roux and file powder are for.

Thanks again everyone for the advice. Keep it coming!

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Brian J. Hill
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p.s. I know it's a little crazy to "jump right in," but I think it'll be a rewarding cultural experience for my students.
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TomDavidson
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I'm not sure you've scaled those right. I use two cans of beans, a pound of sausage, and two peppers to five cups of rice when I make dirty rice; you're using three times as many beans, five times as many peppers, and eight times as much sausage for twenty times as much rice. It also seems underseasoned. But maybe this will just be very ricey rice?
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Brian J. Hill
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Tom, I scaled it almost directly from this recipe. The only substitution was beans instead of ground beef. Does your recipe have dark roux and beef stock? Maybe that makes the difference in flavor [Dont Know] .

I really appreciate your feedback, if only to let me know what potential problems with the recipe I need to be on the lookout for. I'm a taste-as-I-go type of cook, so if it doesn't have enough seasoning, I'll add more. There isn't much I can do about the amount of sausage, but I can add more beans and vegetables, and/or use less rice. Thanks again!

p.s. Based on y'alls suggestions, I really want to try okra gumbo next year. This year is a little rushed, so I went with the shrimp/sausage/filé powder route, but okra gumbo does sound delicious.

p.p.s. I really wish English had a 2nd person plural form that was distinguishable from the 2nd person singular. "Y'alls" looks really silly, but I can't say "votre."

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Lyrhawn
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Turn it into a brunch and make a ton of quiche.

There, I just cut your work load by like 80%.

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Risuena
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quote:
Originally posted by Brian J. Hill:
p.p.s. I really wish English had a 2nd person plural form that was distinguishable from the 2nd person singular. "Y'alls" looks really silly, but I can't say "votre." [/QB]

The plural of "Y'all" is "All y'all"

Also, I agree with everyone else who says you probably want to make up a small batch of each recipe before you have to prepare the big vats of food. That will be the best way to see where possible issues are with the recipes and to tweak them for flavor as necessary.

Everything will go wrong when you're cooking for a lot of people, so it's to be forewarned about any quirks.

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Shanna
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You know, I was born in Louisiana and have been living here for the past 11 years and I have never made gumbo. I'd probably even say that I could count on one hand the number of times I've even eaten it.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that gumbo making is reserved for family matriarchs whose ancestors have lived here for atleast three generations. And even then, I've never seen one woman cook a gumbo for more than fifty people.

If its overwhelming, you could try other traditional New Orleans foods:

-PoBoys
-Shrimp and Grits
-Muffulettas
-Red Beans and Rice (that's usually what I'm buying from food trucks between Mardi Gras parades.) Plus, depending on the recipe if you cook the bacon or sausage separately, it can accomodate vegetarians.

To be fair, I'm really craving some fried okra now.

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Brian J. Hill
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Mmmmm . . . Fried okra
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Brian J. Hill
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The gumbo was a success. Thanks everyone for the advice/suggestions! I wouldn't have been able to do it without an army of student volunteers--er, conscripts. I followed Tom's suggestion and used less rice and more veggies for the dirty rice recipe, and still had enough to feed 80, with plenty of gumbo left.

Next year, I think I'll do a hybrid, where we still make a big pot of gumbo, but we'll also have students make and bring some side dishes like étouffé, PoBoys, jambalaya, etc. Now that I have a working gumbo recipe to be the basis of the celebration, I think we can branch out. And maybe I'll use an okra gumbo [Smile]

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scifibum
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I'm glad to hear that it went well. I've been vaguely anxious on your behalf every time I see this thread.
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Jake
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Me too, scifi.

Glad it went so smoothly, Brian!

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ricree101
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Bump to say that I just made this (albeit for far fewer than 100 people), and it turned out really good. Thanks for posting the recipe.
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