Creole Gumbo

Creole Gumbo

Creole Gumbo

The word “gumbo” comes from the African word for okra, kingombo, and in New Orleans, there’s no doubt that a cup of gumbo is king. Bad puns aside, here’s a recipe for some creole gumbo. Happy Mardi Gras, everyone:

Ingredients:

– 4 tbl butter

– 1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, sliced

– 1/2 cup of flour

– the trinity: ½ onion, chopped, 1 bell pepper, chopped, 2 stalks celery, chopped

– okra, sliced

– 2 medium tomatoes, chopped

– 4 cups, beef or chicken stock

– 4 cups, fish or shrimp broth

– 1 bay leaf

– ½ tsp. thyme

– salt and pepper

– hot sauce (optional)

– 12 to 18 shrimp

– 6 to 12 oysters, mussels, or clams

– 12 crawfish or 3 split crabs

– cooked long grain rice

– chopped parsley, to garnish

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Sauté the andouille to render out some of the fat. Strain and reserve. Sauté the okra to prevent sliminess. Strain and reserve. Add flour to the fat to make a roux, adding more butter or oil as needed. Gently cook roux until it darkens to the color of chocolate. Add onions and cook until onions caramelize. Stir constantly to make sure nothing burns. Add the rest of the veggies and tomato and cook until soft. Pour in the stock with the okra, sausage, bay leaf, and thyme. Lightly season the gumbo with salt and pepper (the flavors and salt will concentrate after simmering for an hour to two hours). Add the seafood last, to ensure that it does not overcook – clams, oysters, or mussels first, followed by the crabs split in half, and finally, the shrimp). Divide soup into 6 bowls, making sure that every bowl gets a little bit of everything. Top with a mound of rice, and sprinkle with some of the chopped parsley. Serve very hot, with or without hot sauce.

Notes:

– Whenever you’re working with bivalves like clams and mussels, you want to be sure to use fresh product.  Also, be sure to soak them in several changes of cold water so that they won’t be too gritty or sandy.  Scrub the outsides of clams with a brush under cold running water.  Remove the beards of the mussels with a needle nosed plier.

– Be careful with the clams, since clams will add saltiness to the gumbo over time.  A perfectly seasoned gumbo may end up being far too salty the next day.  To help remedy this, remove the shells before storing your gumbo overnight.

– You may find that the gumbo is not thick enough to your liking.  You can remedy this in a number of ways.  You can add less liquid (remember that the seafood will give up some liquid, too.  This can thin out the gumbo), make a larger batch of roux, or fortify the gumbo with additional roux after you’ve simmered it for a while.  Okra helps.  File powder (ground, dried sassafras leaves, used as a thickener and flavoring agent in Cajun style gumbos) works too.  I’d stick with roux and okra for this version of gumbo, though — I think it’s more authentically Creole.

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