Gumbo ya-ya, hon….and tales of corned beef hash…

Have I ever confessed my love for corned beef hash?

 OK, let’s just  say it out loud….I LOVE corned beef hash…all stemming from a childhood trip I made to California many years ago. My parents threw us three girls into the family Chevy station wagon, and off we went on a road trip see visit relatives in L.A. Oh, the glamour of living in California, to 3 southern girls from ‘bama. One of them even had a pool in their backyard…ourlittle  jaws must have hit the ground. Anyway, as we saw the USA from our Chevrolet… once we entered Oklahoma and parts west, weird things started showing up on breakfast menus, like corned beef hash(and other familiar things, like grits, disappeared). It was shocking to me, having had nothing more adventurous for breakfast than pancakes or scrambled eggs(with cheese when Mom felt like it). Corned beef hash with a crisp hot crust on top, seemed like…a culinary revelation. I ordered in Flagstaff Arizona, and have loved it ever since.

And since Cafe Hon in Hampden makes their own corned beef hash(though it must be said, I’d still order it if it came from a can)…I enjoyed the real deal this weekend for breakfast, with two gloriously poached eggs on top. Simply delicious. I want some right now.

It was a little chillier than this, on Sunday...

Hadn’t been down to the farmer’s market under the JFX for a month or so, and was surprised to see that lots of veges and fruits are still available..even tomatoes. I went down to score 5 jars of Maryland honey for a friend( I still don’t know why she needs 5 jars of honey but hey, who am I to judge)…which we found, no problem. One loaf of French bread, 5 tomatoes, a bunch of tiny potatoes, one blooming Amaryllis, and 3 pounds of shelled fresh black beans and field peas later…we left.

Classic gumbo, a la Emeril....

My afternoon project was sausage and shrimp gumbo….with a homemade roux, which I’ve never done before.  I used an Emeril Lagasse recipe-here, for classic seafood gumbo and proceeded to change it, of course. But making  the roux is a labor of love…and one involving a couple of burns on your hands if you aren’t careful….which I was, but still.

The roux is a pale tan...still has a way to go...

A roux is oil and flour, mixed and then cooked until it reaches the desired color…in this case, a milk chocolate color. It gives the gumbo body and consistancy…and flavor. Some people use okra instead….I actually use both. I love okra in almost anything(except my corned beef hash, and actually it might be pretty good in that). But you have to stir the stuff, and it’s thin and splashy, for about 25 minutes…easy does it.

A little Dixie chic....grilled pimento cheese...

But the gumbo kicked off a little cooking frenzy…I made a big batch of  pimento cheese, and a pot of black bean soup. The pimento cheese was inspired by a recipe I saw from a high falutin’ restaurant in Atlanta, where they make grilled pimento cheese sandwiches-recipe here. That sounds amazing…I have the pimento cheese made(complete with smoked Spanish paprika-my new fave spice), can the grilled cheese be far behind? Doubtful….


10 Responses

  1. It’s all about the roux! I seem to remember a gumbo/roux post from awhile back. I suggested making the roux in the oven for convenience. Have you tried it? Also the gumbo would not be gumbo without Okra. They say that the old African word for okra is gumbo. I suggest blanching the okra first to eliminate the slime. I made roast chicken with dressing, gravy and all. Yum

  2. Oh dear….I may be repeating myself….whatever. Paul, to me…the “slime” of the okra is what helps thicken the gumbo…that’s why it was added. Wasn’t it?

  3. Could be, depending on who you ask, but I have never found okra slime to really do a good job of thickening. As you may know that fresh corn will impart some thickening from the starch but it alone isn’t going to be enough. Toodles

  4. Stop saying okra slime…you are besmerching a noble vegetable that I love. How about…goo?

  5. I love the goo and the slime.

  6. HA lol sorry Donna, I appoligize and from now on I will call it noble vegetal ectoplasm.

  7. That’s the spirit….

  8. Dear Donna, I have made Emeril’s chicken and Sausage Gumbo which is great. I noticed in your picture you used sausage but the recipe didn’t call for it. Did you use it instead of something or just added it. We love gumbo and I want to try your recipe. This recipe I used called for file powde. It is good but you can only us a little. I used a tablespoon. LOve your blogs. Keep us the good work. Lori

  9. Hi Donna. Enjoy your blogs. We love gumbo and have made Emeril’s Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo. It calls for a tablespoon of file powder and that really is enough. A great dish. Yours really sounds good with all the seafood. I notices on the picture you had sausage in it. Did you eliminate something to add the sausage or in addition to. Im not real fond of fish but love all other seafood. Your blogs are always very informative. Thanks. Lori

  10. Lori….I just add the sausage…gumbo needs sausage to me, so I added that AND chicken. The more the merrier, I always think, so it strictly speaking it wasn’t a seafood gumbo. I also put in some tomato paste, which in NOLA is just not done. But I think it adds something(ummm, tomato flavor?). Gumbo is really a made up dish, from people who put in what ever they had on hand…and I always think a recipe is just some guidance…a jumping off point, right? Though sometimes I’ve jumped off a cliff….but not often.

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