INSTEAD OF BEING SERVED WITH RICE, THIS FOOLPROOF AND INTENSE OYSTER GUMBO IS BAKED… BUBBLING UNDERNEATH A DRAPERY OF FLAKEY PIE-CRUST MADE WITH COLD APPLE JUICE
Hey, yeah, about this Thanksgiving, I hope I’m not too late to ask what you are bringing to the table? Cardboard turkey? Slacking off with mashed potatoes? Please.
I know we haven’t got much time, but listen to me, the answer is, gumbo pot pie. You know gumbo, right? The Southern dark silky brown, rolling with rich seafood or chicken flavours, permeating the complex flavours of a deeply caramelised roux. But I guess that’s what has been stopping you to attempt it in your own kitchen, the dark roux. The dark roux that, legend has it, takes the kind of unfaltering will and patience in order to not fuck up. The keep-stirring-or-die-trying kind of commitment, by the stove for over an hour, that’s going to give you the mystical chocolate-roux instead of a pot of burnt Thanksgiving crisis.
Well, guess what, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s a simple and tested method, inspired by Alton Brown, to achieve the most gorgeous roux in the oven, even without much stirring! Then that gorgeous brown is going to flavour the most genius and glorious oyster gumbo you have ever tasted. Listen, you’re gonna want to know this. Utilizing this guy’s idea for his oyster chowder, I blended some of the oysters directly into the stock that made the base for the gumbo.
Blended, directly, into the base!
The intensity of the stock was almost oozing out of the gumbo-category, spilling into what should have been called an oyster bisque. Along with more torched whole oysters, poached fishes, and some beans for substance, this oyster gumbo was worth every second invested. But it didn’t stop there. What’s Thanksgiving without pies? Instead of being served with rice, the gumbo was baked… bubbling under a drapery of buttery and flakey pie crust made with cold apple juice.
And if it was too late to plan it for this Thanksgiving, even better. Then you get to dig directly into the pie with the sheer will of a spoon, solo-style.
Inspired by Donald Link's Real Cajun Cookbook. The oven-roux method inspired by Alton Brown.
- 8 medium~large (175 grams) shucked oysters
- 15~20 smaller and cheaper (150 grams) shucked oysters
- 3 tbsp (42 grams) canola oil
- 1/3 cup diced andouille sausage
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup finely diced celery
- 1/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
- 1/3 cup finely diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 1/2 cups (575 grams) low sodium chicken stock
- A few dashes of tabasco sauce
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 small star anise
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter + 2 tbsp flour
- 1 can chickpeas or cannelloni beans, drained
- 500 grams white fish fillet or salmon, cut into large chunks
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 tsp salt
- 13 tbsp (180 grams) really cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) really cold apple juice + 2 tbsp to adjust
- TO MAKE THE OYSTER GUMBO: Preheat the oven on 400F/200C. Drain and reserve the oyster liquor from the medium-large oyster, then keep larger oysters in the fridge until needed. Add the reserved oyster liquor to the smaller oysters, then set aside until needed.
- Heat up canola oil in an oven-proof pot over medium heat, and cook the diced andouille sausages until slightly browned and have released some of their fats. Remove the sausages with a slotted spoon and set aside, then whisk in the flour until lump-free. Transfer the pot into the oven, stirring every 15~20 min, until the roux has turned dark brown, about 1 hour. This is a much easier and foolproof way to achieve a dark roux, compared to stirring constantly over low heat on the stove. But you can choose to do it on the stove if you are a roux-expert. Meanwhile, add the smaller oysters with all the liquors into a blender along with chicken stock. Blend for at least 1 min until the oysters are smoothly pureed. Set aside.
- Once the roux has achieved desired color, remove from the oven and return to medium heat on the stove. Add diced celery, green pepper, onion, garlic and thyme with a pinch of salt, and cook for 5~7 min until the vegetables have softened. Add the oyster-chicken stock and whisk to make sure there's no lump, then add tabasco, bay leaves, star anise, smoked paprika, dried oregano, white and black pepper. Keep the gumbo at a simmer for 30 ~40 min, skimming off foams and grease if any, until it has reduced about 1/2 cup. Mash 1 tbsp of butter with 2 tbsp of flour until even, then dissolve into the gumbo to thicken. Taste and re-season with salt. The gumbo-base can be made the day ahead, and brought back to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- 2 hour before serving, add the diced fish and drained chickpeas (or white beans) into the gumbo, and cook for 1 min until the fish is almost cooked through. If you have a blow-torch, blister the exteriors of the larger oysters to add more flavour, then add them to the gumbo, and turn off the heat. Let the gumbo cool off a bit for 1 hour, uncovered, while you make the pie-crust (or you can prepare the pie crust the day before).
- T0 MAKE THE PIE-CRUST: Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the cold diced butter. With a pastry-cutter or with your fingers, cut the butters into the flour until they resemble flat and pea-sized bits. Add 1/2 cup of cold apple juice and press the dough together (not knead! press!). We only want enough liquid to bring the dough together, no more no less. If the dough is too dry to stick together, add 1~2 tbsp more of cold apple juice. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, then press into a 1" thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic-wrap and chill in the freezer for 30 min, or in the fridge if you're making it the day before.
- TO BAKE THE PIE: Transfer the gumbo into a shallow baking-dish. Roll the pie-crust, dusting with a bit of flour if needed, into about 1/4" (0.7cm) thick. Drape it over the baking-dish then cut off the excess around the edges. Pinch the dough tightly round the edges, then cut a few venting slits in the middle. Brush with egg wash then bake in the oven for 30~40 min, until golden browned all over.
- Serve immediately with tabasco sauce.