1. okra, esp. the gelatinous pods used in cooking.
*(in Cajun cooking) a spicy chicken or seafood soup thickened typically with okra or rice.
It is tradition around the Orange Bee to make a big ole’ pot of gumbo for Super Bowl Sunday. It played into my hands perfectly this year as February has been designated as “soup” month. Gumbo is a Cajun soup and a delicious, rich, spicy one at that.
Most of you didn’t know my blog existed last year when the Super Bowl rolled around so you probably missed my gumbo post. Today’s gumbo is the same as last years because it is the only recipe I use. It is an award-winning recipe of my Dad’s. He enjoyed entering local gumbo cook-offs, which were popular in southeast Texas where I grew up. At the Louisiana border, split by the Sabine River, many of us from those parts believe Cajun seeps into our blood somehow. Maybe through the love of Cajun cuisine, music, dancing the fais do-do, or taking on their “joie de vivre”. There are as many recipes for gumbo as there are cooks preparing them and we all feel that ours is the best gumbo. These recipes are passed down for generations. Considering that my Dad won ribbons for his recipe in those contests I know it is one of the best.
Here is the link to last years post which you need to read, especially if you plan on making this delicious, rich, seafood gumbo. https://theorangebee.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/super-bowl-of-gumbo/ You’ll notice that last year I used shrimp, (I always use shrimp) and andouille sausage. This year I used shrimp and fresh lump crab meat. That sweet, white meat sitting on top of the spicy gumbo just makes me drool. Pay close attention to the roux directions and photos of how to achieve the perfect roux color. The spice or heat of the gumbo is determined by the amount of cayenne and black pepper you use, please adjust to your liking. I make a pot without pepper and dish up a few bowls for my mom who doesn’t tolerate spicy heat at all, then I add lots of red and black pepper to please my man Dan.
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 – 1 cup lump white crabmeat (you can choose your additions according to your taste or add both)
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. (do not add crab meat see *note below)
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. *If you are using the crab meat just spoon some over the top to prevent it from breaking up in the gumbo too much.
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!