Friday, November 17, 2017

Autumn Gumbo Pie with Herbed Biscuits

I’m hosting a pie challenge all this month at Foodies+. The challenge is to try to use two or more ingredients from the challenge list. When I saw that two of the three proteins were chicken and shrimp it immediately suggested gumbo to me. I realized the rich, zesty, tangy stew would be perfect for turnips and either pumpkin or squash. To cut down on labor I chose butternut squash, since it is available here peeled and chopped. The slightly tart, spicy and intensely flavorful gravy was a perfect match for the sometimes too sweet squash, mellowing out its sweetness and enhancing its richness. It was also a great match for the turnips, similarly offsetting their sweetness as well as their vegetal aroma.
I used chicken breakfast sausage, but you can use any kind of sausage you like, just be aware that highly seasoned sausages, especially spicy sausages, will add extra flavors to this already incredibly flavorful dish.
My family will not eat okra, so I've left it out, even as a thickener. I've found the amount of roux I made was sufficient.
After covering the layer of gumbo in the baking dish with biscuit dough, you will have dough leftover (about 1/3 of the total amount). You can bake it up to eat with the gumbo pie or cut it into rounds and freeze it raw. If you freeze it raw lay it in a single layer on a baking sheet and once it's frozen through store in the freezer in an airtight freezer bag. I used the biscuit recipe from this blog post: and they were fabulous. Use any herbs you like in the biscuits, fresh or dried. I used dried parsley and it imparted a nice little herbaceous flavor.

Make ahead: serve this when company comes, since it can go in the oven about a half hour before your dinner guests arrive. The gumbo can even be made the night before, then kept in the fridge overnight, until pie is ready to be assembled.

Autumn Gumbo Pie with Herbed Biscuits

For the gumbo:
8 oz chicken sausage, casings removed
8 oz shrimp, deveined and chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 large yellow onion
6 oz butternut squash, diced
1 large turnip, diced
2 small carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
5 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons Cajun spice mix
2 teaspoons buckwheat  (or similarly dark) honey
2 teaspoons caldo de res (beef bullion)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
salt, to taste

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 large egg, beaten

1. Melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then carrots, onion, celery, turnip and butternut squash. Add 1 teaspoon cajun spice mix. Salt to taste. Saute until turnip and squash begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

2. As the veggies saute, sift together the dry ingredients for the biscuits. Add chicken sausage to veggies and continue to cook until chicken has been cooked through.
3. Add tomato paste, and mix in thoroughly. Cook for a moment, then add chopped tomatoes, 2 cups of water and beef bullion.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add honey. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add shrimp to the stew.
5. Make the roux: toss 4 T flour with 1 t Cajun seasoning. In a separate pan, melt remaining butter. Whisk in flour/Cajun seasoning mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mix turns deep golden brown, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the roux to the gumbo. Taste and add salt, if needed. Take gumbo off of the heat and pour into a 9 x 13” baking dish. Finish making the biscuits: pour cream into dry ingredients, add chopped herbs and mix until just combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently a couple of times. Roll out to approximately 1/4“ thickness and cut to cover the entire baking dish, with little room to spare. Cut into 12 squares and lay them as closely as possible over the gumbo. Brush with egg wash and bake until browned, 20 - 30 minutes. Serve with white long grain rice.