Wild Game Gumbo
By Nathan Parrish
I adapted this popular and classic Southern dish using what I had available to me. This is a great way to use up leftover meat, sausages or even seafood. Just cut up the leftover protein, and fold it into the gumbo about fifteen minutes before the mixture isdone. You could also add tomato to the vegetables, although that is a point of debate amongst gumbo aficionados. Change this recipe however you like. At the end of the day, if it looks, smells and tastes like gumbo, then it’s probably a gumbo. So let’s go with it.
I use “Big Game Spice Blend” from Harvesting Nature. I don’t usually use a pre-made spice blend because they’re usually full of fillers like corn starch and not much actual spices. But this one is great, and it works well in all kinds of different applications. Keep in mind the first ingredient is salt, so make sure you don’t season your gumbo before adding the spice blend. If you’re not using a pre-made spice blend you can make your own; combine some cayenne, paprika, onion and garlic powders and dried herbs.
Prep time: 40 minutes
Total time: 4-8 hours
⅓ cup pork fat
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
½ pound Smoked Venison Ham Hocks (see recipe on the GrizzlyFish blog)
½ pound wild game sausage, cut into thick slices
1 large onion, rough chopped
6-8 stalks of celery, rough chopped
3 green bell peppers, rough chopped
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)
About 2 tablespoons Harvesting Nature Brand Big Game Spice Blend, or to taste
1 ½ quarts chicken stock
Start by making A roux: Melt the pork fat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, and add enough flour to cover the bottom of the pot, but not enough to make a paste consistency. The flour will act as a thickener while the gumbo cooks, so use some or all of it depending on how thick you want the gumbo to be.
Things can happen fast with a roux, you don’t need to stand over it continuously for the first little bit, but keep an eye on it. Stir and whisk the roux frequently until it turns beige and the smell goes from sweet to toasted, about 10 minutes. Now stir the roux constantly until it turns dark brown, another 5-10 minutes. Be patient here and do not turn up the heat. You’re looking to deeply toast the flour without burning it. If the roux does go too far, it’s always better to ditch it and start over, than to proceed and end up with a gumbo that tastes burnt.
Combine the chopped vegetables in a medium mixing bowl or similar container. Add them to the roux all at once. Stir quickly to coat. Add a small splash of water or stock if you think the roux is going to scorch. Turn the heat up to medium and sweat the veggies until they have released some liquid and have gone translucent. Scrape the bottom the pan frequently to avoid anything sticking and burning. Season the vegetables with a healthy dash of the Big Game Blend, or a small pinch of salt and a shake of a substitute spice blend.
Add 1 quart of the stock, sausage and hocks. Bring to a simmer and turn the heat down to low. Loosely cover and simmer for 4-6 hours, or until the hocks are fork tender. Check the seasoning and consistency every so often while the gumbo cooks and adjust if needed. Stir in any leftover meat or seafood in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Allow to cool slightly before serving. If you have time to let it sit for a couple hours that’s even better. I like to serve this gumbo with a a dash of hot sauce and a chunk of cornbread.
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