OK, my previous post covered the importance of roux and how to prepare it. Now it’s time to share the full recipe and share the finished product.
You’ll need to allow plenty of time to make this Creole-style stew. The roux alone takes a half-hour or longer, and the stew needs to simmer at least an hour. It’s time well spent. Invite some friends and make a party of it.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil
2 small bags frozen seasoning blend vegetables (onions, bell peppers, celery, and parsley), thawed
1 bulb garlic, minced
6 cups water
1 (2-pound bag) sliced frozen okra, thawed
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained)
1 can Original Ro-Tel tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 pounds spicy smoked sausage, sliced*
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined**
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat (optional; add it if you’re feeling flush. We weren’t.)
1 pint raw oysters (optional; add them if you’re feeling flush. We weren’t.)
1 1/2 teaspoons Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning, to taste
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Gumbo file powder***
4 cups water or chicken broth
2 cups Louisiana popcorn rice****
1. Prepare the roux, as per my previous post. When it’s done, add the seasoning blend and garlic. (As Jon, notes, this helps cool the roux mixture so it doesn’t blend. Still, keep in mind, roux is called “Cajun napalm” for a reason–it’s very hot and may bubble and spatter when you add the vegetables. Use caution.) Cook the vegetables until tender.
2. While the vegetables cook, bring about 6 cups water to a boil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the roux-vegetable mixture, okra, tomatoes, bay leaves, and sausage to the pot (“At this point, it’s just a dump soup,” Jon notes.) Reduce the heat, and simmer 1 hour. Add the shrimp (and crab and oysters, if you’re using them); simmer 5 minutes or until the shrimp are done. Stir in the Creole seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste (you may not need them at all. Serve with file powder and Tabasco at the table.
3. While the gumbo simmers, prepare the rice. Bring 4 cups water or broth to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the rice. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
* Jon is a fan of Alabama-made Conecuh sausage. I couldn’t find it at the local supermarket, so we used Savoie’s Andouille sausage. Andouille is a spicy smoked Cajun-style sausage available in many supermarkets. You can use any kind of spicy smoked sausage you find.
**If you have the time and want to make your gumbo extra special, Jon suggests saving the shrimp shells and using them to make a simple stock for the soup. To do this, combine the shrimp shells; half an onion, coarsely chopped; 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped; 2 bay leaves; 3 thyme sprigs; and a teaspoon of black peppercorns in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Cover with 8 cups cold water. Bring it to a boil; reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. Every so often, skim the surface to remove any solids. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. You can do this step a day ahead. Use the shrimp stock in place of the water in the gumbo.
***Gumbo file (pronounced FEE-lay) powder is made from ground dried sassafrass leaves. It adds an herbaceous quality and acts as a thickening agent. It’s added to the gumbo after cooking.
****Popcorn rice is a Louisiana specialty, a cross between basmati and American long-grain varieties. It actually smells like popped popcorn as it cooks. You can find it at specialty stores, order it online, or substitute regular basmati rice.