Friday, August 8, 2008

Leftovers: Trout gumbo

My husband is not a huge fan of dill, so while my first inclination was to make a chowder with the leftover trout, some potatoes, celery, milk or soy milk, and lots of fresh dill, I had to reconsider. Then I remembered I had some frozen okra, a little bell pepper, and onion, so gumbo became the planned dish of the day.

Gumbo is a lot like chili in its versatility. Every year I make turkey gumbo with the Thanksgiving leftovers; after one leftover meal that resembles Thanksgiving with all the fixin's, I'm done with all that until the next time. But there's usually just so much turkey, and a large pot of gumbo is a hit in my house.

You can make gumbo with just about any kind of fish, seafood, poultry, or sausage. Adding a little sausage to any gumbo is especially yummy, but because I'm going with what's already in my house, I'll be leaving that out.

Thickeners used include flour, gumbo file (sassafrass leaves), and okra, but not all at the same time. This makes it easy for people who don't like the texture of okra to leave it out. You can also choose to leave out tomatoes.

While bases such as Zatarain's are easy and tasty, it's also super easy to make gumbo from scratch. Here's my new recipe for trout gumbo.

Trout gumbo (makes 4 servings)

1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked trout, pesky bones carefully removed by hand, chopped into 1-inch pieces (although it might fall apart, and that's OK)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-1/2 tablespoons flour

1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced (optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8-10 ounces cut okra (I use frozen)

1-1/2 cups vegetable or fish stock

1 cup diced tomatoes, preferably the fire-roasted kind

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

salt, to taste, only after cooking if you're using the trout left over from the salt-crusted trout

lots of hot sauce (I use Melinda's)

gumbo file to sprinkle on individual servings (optional)

1.) Heat the flour in a small, non-stick pan over low heat, stirring, for about 6 minutes. Put aside.

2.) Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers, and cook until the onion softens, 4-5 minutes or so. Stir the flour in, making sure to coat the vegetables evenly with it.

3.) Add the vegetable or fish stock and okra, and let it gently simmer so it thickens.

4.) Add the tomatoes, thyme, pepper, and hot sauce.

5.) Add the fish. Take the gumbo off the heat, allowing the fish to heat but not continue cooking.

6.) Refrigerate and let the flavors combine for at least a few hours before reheating and serving, with a sprinkle of gumbo file on each bowl.

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