Crab and Shrimp Gumbo
Seafood Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
This a true Louisiana classic. This iconic dish has African, French, and Native American influences.
One Of My All-Time Favorites
One of my best friends happens to have lived in New Orleans for many years and he was the one to first introduce me to the flavors of Louisiana. His mother was born and bred in the 9th ward of Nawlins and gumbo was always a staple of the family's dinner table.
I first met his Auntie Darlene a couple of years before the Katrina debacle. She has got to be one of the most amazing cooks whos cooking I have had the the immense pleasure and privilege of eating. I think it really is true what they say about the love one puts into their cooking. It seems to me that the love she puts into hers is almost palpable.
Her gumbo in particular was something which nearly made me swoon. It instilled within me a feeling of comfortable warmth, and tantalized me with authentic flavors which brought with it images of early Louisiana settlers and ethnic herbs and spices not commonly used in other parts of the country. Not that I hadn't had gumbo before, but hers was something special. She always told me that the secret to the best gumbo was the freshness of the ingredients, the amount of heart and love you put into its preparation, and the one key ingredient absolutely necessary for it to even be called gumbo is the File Powder which is ground down from Sassafras leaves.
I would love to have her recipe for myself so as to be able to share with all of you, but she is one of those ladies who secrets her recipes and refuses to divulge them. As the eldest sister, she was always the main cook in the family after the mother and grandmother so my friend's mother isn't really privy to it either, otherwise, I would have attempted to pry it from her instead. My friend and I have come to the conclusion that we would have to wait until the day she passes in order to gain access to her culinary secrets.
I do know the basics of how to make good gumbo, but not everything. I still have to follow recipes in order to do it and so I have sifted through more than a dozen recipes in order to find one that I feel best represents what a fantastic gumbo should be. Luckily for you guys, the recipe I am sharing with you is from one of the world's most beloved celebrity chefs and an expert in the cuisine of Louisiana. That would be the incomparable chef of BANG! Emeril Legasse.
As I have already said, I wish you could have a nice big bowl of Auntie Darlene's gumbo, but I believe you'll get a good idea of what a gumbo should be by trying the recipe below. This is a seafood recipe, but keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to use seafood. Chicken or veal or just about any kind of meat can be used as well and the sausage can also be of the chicken or turkey variety.
I wish you Bon Apetit and always Laissez Les Bon Ton Roulet!
I'm Not Big On Okra, So It Is Optional
1 1/2 cups Medium Dark Roux, see How To Roux, recipe follows
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 quarts shrimp, crab or chicken stock
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds, browned in a skillet, and drained on paper towels
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1/3 cup green onion tops, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup file powder, or to taste
Steamed White Rice, for serving
Oh Yeah Babe...
How To Prepare The Roux - Make The Roux First
How to Roux:
3 cups vegetable oil
5 cups all-purpose flour
Place a heavy, iron Dutch oven, (or iron skillet with deep sides) over medium heat and heat the oil until just smoking. Whisk in flour, a little at a time and cook, whisking constantly, until roux becomes smooth and thick. Continue to cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon and reaching all over bottom of pan, until roux darkens to desired color. Be careful not to produce specs of black. The roux must remain an even color throughout process. If specs appear you must start over.
For a Light Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the color of peanut butter. Remove about 1 cup of the light colored roux, cool completely, and set aside for the Delmonico's Seafood Okra Gumbo.
For a Medium Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the color of a copper penny when ready. Remove about 13/4 cups of the medium colored roux, cool completely, and set aside for Emeril's Country File Gumbo.
For a Dark Brown Roux, cook the mixture an additional 35 to 45 minutes. The color should resemble dark chocolate when ready. Remove all of the remaining dark roux from the pan and cool completely. Set aside for the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.
Yield: about 4 1/2 cups roux
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
NOTE: The timings for various shades of roux will vary depending on the cooktop as well as the amount of roux made. (A smaller amount will cook in much less time.) If this is your first time making a roux, the slower you cook it, the less likely you will be to burn it. The important thing is to cook the roux to the desired color, as specified above.
Satisfaction In A Bowl
Heat the roux in a medium-sized heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and bell pepper. Stir mixture until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the browned sausage, bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
Bring gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until gumbo is slightly reduced, about 50 minutes. (Gumbo should cook long enough for the roux flavor to mellow and for any floury taste to dissipate.)
Season the shrimp with the Essence in a small bowl. Stir in the seasoned shrimp, crabmeat, green onions, parsley, thyme and basil. Cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Sprinkle in file powder and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more, or pass file at the table for guests to thicken as desired. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Serve in warmed soup bowls over steamed white rice.