Is it too soon for another gumbo recipe? I hope not because my freezer is full of cooked shrimp and the last of the post-Thanksgiving turkey gumbo is long gone. Sniff, sniff!
One of the most intimidating steps in the gumbo making process is the roux. Not only is it tricky if you haven’t done it before; the addition of extra flour and oil ups the calorie count. In my humble opinion, I have perfected an easier and healthier way to make gumbo.
I can’t take all the credit. Rumor has it the original chicken and sausage roux-less recipe, which was given to me by a co-worker when I lived in New Orleans, comes straight from the kitchen of Christian’s restaurant in Mid-City. I don’t know if that is actually true but I will put my version of gumbo up against any you can find in the Big Easy with confidence.
Despite the number of ingredients and the cook time (most of which is unattended), this is pretty much an easy and fool proof version of the original recipe (especially if you stick to frozen okra…see Kat’s Tip below).
- 2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 quarts water (or chicken broth)
- 1/4 pound bacon, chopped
- 1/2 to one pound andouille or smoked sausage, diced
- 2 large onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 bell pepper, any color
- 1 pound fresh or frozen okra, chopped (see footnote)
- 1 can small can tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon Zataran’s liquid shrimp/crab boil*
- salt and black pepper to taste
The day before (optional):
Peel the shells and tails off the shrimp. Place the shells in a large pot and cover with 3 quarts warm water. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer (don’t let them come to a boil) the shells for about 45 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. Strain the stock through a fine strainer and then discard the shells.
This step is totally optional. You could easily substitute chicken or vegetable broth with ease.
The day of:
Chop the bacon and sauté in a non-stick pan over medium heat until the bacon is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the sausage to the bacon grease and sauté until slightly browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, retaining the bacon grease.
Chop vegetables and sauté in the bacon grease until the onions are soft (about 5-10 minutes). Add okra and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly until slime is gone being careful not to let the mixture burn (about an hour for fresh okra or 10-15 minutes for frozen and then thawed okra)
Sprinkle flour evenly over vegetables and stir until flour disappears. Add tomato sauce (see above). Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Transfer the mixture to large stock pot and slowly add 6 cups of shrimp stock or water. Cook 30 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, 8 cups of stock or water, the bacon, the sausage and the seasonings. Simmer on medium heat for one hour.
Add shrimp. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes over low heat until the shrimp turn pink. Stir often to avoid burning the bottom.
Garnish with parsley. Add salt, pepper and additional seasonings to taste. Serve over rice.
Fresh okra can be quite messy and a pain to cook. I sometimes throw it in a food processor to chop it up. I’ve contemplated microwaving it to speed up the process and cut down on the mess. Frozen okra (just as good in my opinion) also works, takes less time to cook and is less sticky.
Kat’s second tip:
I recently bought a small bottle of Zataran’s Liquid Shrimp & Crab Boil at WalMart. If you can find it, this is a secret ingredient that will turn your shrimp gumbo from marvelous to out of this world. Up until now I had never seen it outside of the South.
Nutritional Value (not including rice):
Calories 215.7 Total Fat 8.5 g Cholesterol 161.5 mg Sodium 583.7 mg Potassium 363.4 mg Total Carbohydrate 16.1 g Protein 23.0 g