Regional Director of Dining Services Larry Collins has worked in the food and service industry for more than 30 years, having spent 21 years as a member of the Sunrise family. His passion for food and genuine care for others have been key tenets of his career and of his time at Sunrise. This month, as we collectively seek to enrich our understanding and appreciation for the legacy and contributions of Black culture, Larry wanted to share one of his family’s favorite dishes in honor of Black History Month.
A dish inspired by his mother’s cooking; the Collins Gumbo is Larry’s family’s take on this flavorful stew popular in the Creole cuisine of Louisiana. A staple in his family’s Sunday dinner traditions, Larry shared how his family comes together to prepare Gumbo for all celebrations and holidays. He said: “In Black culture we always come together around food and lots of us have recipes that have been passed down through generations, just like Gumbo.” Generally based on a dark roux, shellfish and poultry, Gumbo combines ingredients and culinary traditions of several cultures including African, French, Spanish, and Native American Choctaw. Gumbo takes its name from a Bantu word for okra, which is a traditional ingredient added to the dish for thickness. For Larry’s version of the stew, he uses the thickening agent, file powder, made from dried and ground leaves from a sassafras tree.
Larry says this dish always brings back good memories of him and his mother debating about their preferred color of roux, telling us that “my mom made her roux a caramel color, but I like a dark chocolate color for more flavor, the debate is still out on what is the best!” Please enjoy this hearty stew over a bowl of warm rice and share how you like your roux.
3 ounces butter
3 ounces flour
3 ¼ quarts vegetable stock
bay leaf to taste
¾ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¾ teaspoon sage
¾ teaspoon file powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 ounces chopped onion
3 ounces chopped bell pepper
3 ounces chopped celery
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
12 ounces cooked basmati rice
4 ounces dark lager beer
1 pound chopped chicken thighs
½ pound crab meat
12 ounces sliced kielbasa
½ pound shrimp
In a large pot, sauté chicken thighs and kielbasa sausage, then set aside.
In a separate pot, make your roux by combining butter and flour; mix it until you achieve a deep brown color.
In a separate pot, sauté onions, garlic, bell pepper and celery.
Once that is done, combine sautéed vegetables with the chicken thighs and sausage.
Mix in all your spices, dark lager beer, vegetable stock and roux mixture. Let that simmer for 45 minutes.
To your stew, add the shrimp and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Afterwards, add the crab and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Let the gumbo rest before enjoying a bowl of stew served with basmati rice.