Isn’t that beautiful? Fresh shrimp ready to be peeled, cooked and eaten. As you know by now these shrimp are destined for the Super Bowl of Gumbo. That is not truly the name of this gumbo but it seemed so fitting to turn it into a puzzle. None of you guessed – nor even attempted. Ok, maybe puzzles and blogs don’t go together. What does fit right into this blog however, is the recipe and instructions on how to make gumbo.
The first tip I have for you is to start early in the afternoon making your gumbo. Chopping the vegetables is easy but time-consuming and you’ll want the veggies prepped before you start your roux. The most important part of gumbo making which my Dad drilled into my head is that the roux cannot be any color other than chocolate-brown. His way of making gumbo is one of hundreds, passed down in families all over south Louisiana and southeast Texas. You may have eaten gumbo before that didn’t resemble this gumbo at all. Producing roux the color of a candy bar takes quite a while and you can’t hurry it along. That is the reason he plainly states, “have a taste of the wine yourself”. This well intended tip is the only way I know for making gumbo, pour a glass of wine, pull up a stool or chair to the stove top and then begin the roux making process. Having your adoring husband or wife, a great friend (who also likes wine), or your significant other hanging out in the kitchen makes the lengthy roux browning much more enjoyable.
I am including photos of the roux making process to help you grasp what color to strive for. If you are patient and don’t give up too quickly you will attain the perfect roux and the most delicious pot of gumbo you’ve ever tasted!
Lew’s Louisiana Gumbo
Recipe feeds 10
6-8 large onions, chopped
1 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
8 celery ribs, chopped
1 large can of tomatoes
1 lb. okra, sliced (one large bag of frozen will work too – NOT breaded okra)
6 bay leaves
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup dry red wine
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup parsley, minced
6-10 green onions, chopped (use tops and bottoms)
8 lbs. shrimp, cleaned and uncooked
1 lb. Andouille sausage, sliced
2 cups flour
2 cups butter or cooking oil
Salt & pepper (1 tsp. white pepper, 1 tsp. black pepper and 1 tsp. red (cayenne) pepper)
Begin by chopping all of your vegetables, garlic and parsley. Set aside. Pour a glass of wine and pull a stool up to the stove.
Bring your oil to a high heat and gradually whisk in the flour stirring continuously until well mixed.
Lower the heat, continue stirring and sipping your wine while the roux begins to take on a caramel color.
Continue stirring, have the other person in your kitchen refill your wine glass if necessary. Whatever you do don’t stop stirring or give up yet.
Now that you have achieved the perfect chocolate shade of roux for your gumbo the remaining steps are easy greasy.
Add the onions, celery, green onions, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley to the roux and mix well. Allow this mixture to cook over low heat for about 4-5 minutes to allow the celery to begin to soften. When the vegetables have began to soften transfer the entire mixture to a 12 quart stock pot. Add 6 quarts of hot water, a little at a time, stirring until smooth and thin. Bring this mixture to a simmer and add the tomatoes, okra, wine (have a taste yourself), Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves and just a touch of salt and pepper. If you are using sausage add it now. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender crisp and the sausage is heated through; add the shrimp and continue to cook until shrimp turn pink and are crisp.
At this time you can leave the gumbo on the stove at the lowest heat setting for quite a while. If you allow the gumbo to simmer or boil again your shrimp will be overcooked. Taste your gumbo to determine if additional salt or pepper are needed. If you like “Hot” gumbo add some cayenne pepper to your pot. Additionally bring the Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco to the table.
Serve the gumbo over rice and be sure to have some crusty hot bread for dunking in the liquid.
This same recipe can made using chicken, duck, goose, crab, rabbit, guinea fowl or squirrel. Yes, I said squirrel. In those parts of Louisiana and southeast Texas squirrel is eaten by many people. I’d venture to say not as much today as in the past but if you’ve got a hankerin’ for squirrel gumbo – go for it!
I prefer my gumbo made with seafood and sausage, served over rice, a touch on the spicy side, with bread for dunking and another glass of wine.