Sunday, September 30, 2007
Chef Eric Villegas shared this delicious recipe at the Epicurean Classic earlier this month. Demonstrating his mantra to think globally, but buy and eat locally, Eric added Michigan shrimp, smoked whitefish and a dash of "Lake Effect" for his own Michigan take on gumbo. Hearty and packed with flavor, it'd make a great meal for a cool fall evening.
"Take a recipe, wherever it's from, and take it apart," Eric advised his audience, with the same enthusiam he brings to his weekly PBS show Fork in the Road. "Study the ingredients and ask 'what can I substitute from Michigan, from my local region?'" To demonstrate, he replaced the standard gumbo ingredient of crab with smoked whitefish, which when flaked has a similar texture. A dash of Clancy's Fancy's Hot Sauce (from Ann Arbor) gives a kick, and shrimp from a shrimp farm in Okemos (that Eric raved about!) is the star ingredient.
With the hint of cooler fall weather in the air, my thoughts turn to soup. Below are the recipes for Eric's gumbo and his Lake Effect seasoning. (What a great name!) Any soups you recommend?
Michigan White Shrimp & Smoked Whitefish "Gumbo"
3/4 cup soybean oil
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups red onions, chopped
1 cup bell peppers, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup roasted garlic puree
1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon Lake Effect seasoning", or to taste, see recipe below
1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo chili powder, or cayenne, or to taste
5 fresh bay leaves
1 1/2 quarts shrimp stock
2 pounds Michigan white shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflyed
1 pound smoked whitefish
1/2 cup chopped green onions, reserve a few tablespoons for service
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, reserve a few tablespoons for service
1/4 cup filé powder/gumbo filé, to taste
1/2 cup long grain white rice, cooked
1/2 cup Great Lakes wild rice, cooked
For the roux
In a large heavy cast iron pot, heat the oil or medium high heat. When the oil is hot, vigorously whisk in all of the flour. The mixture will eventually smooth out as you whisk and when it reaches the consistency of wet sand it's best to switch from the whisk to a wooden spoon. Slowly continue stirring the roux reaching all over the bottom and corners of the pan. Stir the mixture constantly for 25 to 30 minutes, to achieve a rich dark brown roux.
For the gumbo
Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, roasted garlic puree, salt, lake effect seasoning, cayenne, and bay leaves to the roux. Cook for 12 to 13 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are wilted.
Add the stock and mix to blend with the roux. Simmer for 1 hour to 1 and a half hours, stirring occasionally and being careful to skim off the foam that will come to the surface.
Add the shrimp, smoked whitefish, green onions and parsley and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until the smoked fish is warmed and the shrimp is just cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Ladle the gumbo in a shallow dishes. Place a heaping portion of each of the warmed rices in the center of the gumbo. Sprinkle the reserved green onions and parsley over top and serve with the side of file powder.
Lake Effect Seasoning
2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons smoked sea salt or plain sea salt
2 tablespoons roasted garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon aji pepper powder, or cayenne
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon maple sugar
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
Lake Effect is an all purpose seasoning blend that heightens the flavors of seafood, poultry, meats and vegetables with the punch of Bolivian chili peppers that finishes with the sweet caress of Michigan maple sugar.