2. Seafood and Okra Gumbo
- 3/4 cup of dark oven roux*
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- 1 cup of chopped celery
- 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 (15 ounce) can of stewed tomatoes, with liquid, chopped up
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
- 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
- 2 quarts of shrimp stock, chicken stock/broth or water
- 1/2 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 pound of smoked sausage, andouille or ham, chopped (optional)
- 1 pound sliced okra
- 2 pounds of medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 dozen oysters, undrained
- 1 pound of lump crabmeat, picked through for any shell
- Hot sauce
- Warm the roux over medium high heat in a large heavy bottom pot, stirring constantly. I use my cast iron dutch oven. Add the onion, celery and green pepper to the hot roux, cooking and stirring for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic and remove the pot from the heat.
- Chop the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. I use a pair of kitchen shears to chop them up right in the can. Add the tomatoes to roux mixture and return pot to heat. Add the Cajun seasoning and Old Bay. Stir in the shrimp stock, chicken broth or water; return to a boil, reduce heat to just under medium, and let simmer covered for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the canola oil to a separate skillet, and heat over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. To that same skillet, add the okra; cook and stir until slightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer from the skillet to the gumbo pot. Add the sausage and cover the pot; continue simmering.
- Add the shrimp to the gumbo pot. Cover the pot and continue simmering, about 10 minutes. Add the oysters; simmer another 5 minutes. Pick through the crabmeat checking for any remnants of shells; gently stir the crabmeat into the gumbo, until just heated through.
- Serve over hot cooked rice and sprinkle individual bowls with gumbo filé, if desired. Pass a bottle of Tabasco for some extra kick and add some hot, buttered French bread or rolls and a side salad.
- Cook’s Notes: Gumbo is a dish that only improves with advance preparation, so make it ahead of time if possible. The flavors really need time to settle and mellow. It’s always better the next day. Prepare, let cool and skim any accumulated oil off the top before storing. If you don’t already have an oven roux made, just combine 3/4 cup each canola oil and all purpose flour and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until roux reaches a deep, dark color.
- Gumbo filé, or filé powder, is a seasoning made from ground sassafras leaves and tastes a bit like savory and thyme mixed together. It is often stirred into gumbo at the end of cooking (but never boiled) to act as a thickener when okra is out of season. Besides thickening it also imparts a unique flavor to the gumbo, so even when using okra I like to sprinkle a little into each serving bowl. Do not add it to the pot if you don’t expect to finish off the gumbo as it does not reheat well and will become stringy.
- Creamy Seafood Gumbo: Double the okra, adding half of it, uncooked, with the tomatoes and stock/broth or water for the first simmer. Allow base to thicken, then proceed with recipe.