As much as I love trying new flavors and recipes, there are still plenty of common foods that I have yet to try my hand at. So welcome to my 4-part series:
To add to the fun, my super-creative bloggy pal Jeanie at Create&Babble has asked me to share these cooking adventures with her readers, as well. (Everyone say, “Hi, Jeanie!”)
A couple months ago, I realized that I’ve never made gumbo. Why should I? After all, growing up near the Mexican border I had no experience with Cajun food. Even after moving further east into Texas, I’ve still only ventured as far as a box of Zatarain’s.
So…how did the gumbo turn out?
Have a zesty Wednesday everyone!
- 1-1/2 lb. medium shrimp (41 to 50 or 51 to 60 per lb.) or 2 lb. if using head-on shrimp
- 2 cups chopped white onion (about 1 large onion; reserve the skin)
- 1 cup chopped celery (about 2 medium stalks; reserve the trimmings)
- 1/4 cup plus 6 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. fresh or thawed frozen okra, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium pepper)
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 lb. fresh or pasteurized lump crabmeat (about 1-1/2 cups), picked over for shells, or 4 to 6 gumbo crabs (about 1 lb. total), thawed
- 1 Tbs. dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
- 1 cup fresh shucked oysters (halved if large)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 8)
- Louisiana-style hot sauce, to taste
- 1/4 cup hot cooked white rice per serving
- Make the shrimp stock:
- Remove the shrimp heads, if necessary. Peel and devein the shrimp and refrigerate the shrimp until needed. Combine the shrimp peels and heads and the reserved onion skin and celery trimmings in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Cover with 9 cups of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve. You should have about 2 quarts.
- Prepare the okra:
- In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the okra in two batches until it becomes lightly browned on the edges, 3 to 5 minutes per batch (fry undisturbed for the first minute or two until browning begins and then stir once or twice to flip most pieces and brown evenly). With a slotted spoon, transfer each batch of okra to a plate or platter lined with a paper towel.
- Make the roux:
- Heat the remaining 6 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Once it’s hot, add the flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the roux reaches the color of caramel, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir until the roux deepens to a chocolate-brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp stock, okra, tomatoes, gumbo crabs (if using), thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Adjust the heat to medium-low or low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
- Serve the gumbo:
- Five minutes before serving, add the shrimp, fresh or pasteurized lump crabmeat (if using), oysters, and scallions. Add hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve in large soup bowls over 1/4 cup cooked rice per serving. Pass additional hot sauce at the table.
- Make Ahead Tips
- Store gumbo in the refrigerator for up to three days and then reheat gently before serving. As with many stews and braises, gumbo tastes better the second day. You can also freeze it for up to eight months. Simply transfer to freezer-safe containers.