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Gumbo is the perfect dish for both big crowds and small gatherings. We have all the information you need to decide how much you will need for the number of people you’ll be feeding.
When it comes to feeding a family or group, you will want to provide one quart of gumbo per two people (four cups total and two cups per person). For a group of 8-10 people, you will want roughly between 4 or 5 quarts, which adds up to around 20 cups or just over 1 gallon of gumbo.
Background and Recipe Specifics
Gumbo is a meal that dates back to the very early 1800s and is known in some places as the “dish where everyone is talking” which is a reference to its multicultural background and versatile recipe. In addition to the ingredients being interchangeable, it is also a very easy recipe to double which makes it great for large gatherings.
It is important to remember that, unlike soup or chilis, gumbo is served over rice. So you will not need as much in one bowl as you would a different meal. Whereas with a soup such as chicken noodle you can put two cups into the bowl, with gumbo you need to make room in your bowl for portions of both rice and gumbo, allowing for less room for the gumbo itself. So the serving suggestion of one quart for two people automatically allows for two or three bowls of gumbo for each person.
Gumbo starts off with a base called roux which is a butter and flour mixture. Once that mixture is ready, you add in the liquids. That is where the easiness of doubling, tripling, or even halving the recipe comes in because right from the start you can determine how much liquid you will be adding. Once you have your broth, you add in the vegetables, seafood, and meats.
Measurements and Meal Prep
To break down the specifics of how much is in each serving and how much you will need, you can think of it in terms of fluid ounces as well as cups, quarts, and gallons.
The typical amount of gumbo made in one recipe without doubling it is between 3 and 4 quarts. For this, we will round up to 4.4 quarts of gumbo which means there are 128 fluid ounces. If you use 8 ounces (equal to 1 cup) of gumbo per serving, you will have enough for 16 single servings.
The rice to gumbo ratio is up to personal preference. Some like a little bit of rice while others prefer the gumbo as a sauce on top of the rice. Unless you know the exact way all of your guests will eat their meal, the following table is a good tool to use while determining how much to make and calculate a safe bet in terms of covering your bases to ensure everyone will have the typical amount of both if they so desire.
|Size of Group||Rice In Cups*||Gumbo in Cups||Gumbo in Quarts||Gumbo in Gallons|
As with many dishes, the amount of liquids and other add-ins will affect how much you end up with. Many gumbo recipes will call for chicken stock and water. How many cups of liquid you will add to your gumbo will determine the consistency thus determining the fluid ounces count (or quarts, cups, or however you choose to measure the bigger quantities).
Consistency and texture are a personal preference but if you find yourself liking a thicker gumbo you will want to 1 and a fourth the recipe if you plan on feeding a small group. It’s just a little bit more than the normal recipe amount but makes up for what is lost to the thickening. Just as if you add liquid to thin out the gumbo, taking liquid out, boiling for too long, and adding thickening agents such as corn starch will lower the amount of gumbo.
The smaller size of group you feed, the less you need to worry about adding that extra fourth of ingredients if you plan to thicken the gumbo. Even if you plan to thicken it past the normal amount, once you start doubling or tripling the recipe that extra fourth isn’t entirely necessary because you will have so much already. That being said, if you are feeding a large group and want the gumbo extra thick then do add the extra (in addition to the doubling). No matter the number of people exercise your own judgment. If you take away too much then the difference will in fact be noticeable.
Historical Context and Modern Media
Gumbo is a dish traditionally meant for making in big quantities and sharing and many of the cultures Gumbo came from prioritizing family and many families would cook the dish together in the kitchen. A win-win situation for everyone as they get both a nice family bonding experience and a nice meal out of it. Many recipes were passed down through multiple generations. Immigration to lands where some ingredients were more readily accessible and others weren’t, paved the way for the changes in recipes all across the world.
The recipes all start out the same but easily can be altered to fit the taste preferences of whoever is cooking. With roots deep in Cajun, Creole, and French cooking, the dish has evolved throughout history and continues to change. Movies such as Princess and the Frog and cooking television shows such as Down Home with the Neely’s have aided in gumbo as well as other southern or creole-based dishes having a spotlight in mainstream media.