Gumbo is the official cuisine of Louisiana. Made in countless versions, there is no better dish I’d rather celebrate Fat Tuesday with!
Shrimp and sausage gumbo was first served to me years ago by my mother-in-law. I have no doubt it contained shrimp and sausage but for the rest of it, I draw a blank.
I never really ate shrimp until I left home. After all, good Jewish girls did not eat shrimp and for that matter, Kankakee wasn’t exactly located near any shrimp boats.
But after meeting Manservant I learned the specifics of Southern cooking…particularly the cooking of New Orleans. His mother grew up right outside of there in Gulfport, Mississippi and made sure to pass along her love of Cajun/Creole food.
Though I have yet to attend a Mardi Gras, I have enjoyed many great visits to New Orleans and Gulfport and always left feeling totally full.
Cajun food is one of my weaknesses and though I am not an oyster fan, I have been known to eat them grilled with lots of garlic butter.
I can eat them every which way!
Through the years on this blog, I’ve managed to share lots of Paul Prudhomme recipes. Emeril’s teacher, friend and mentor, this man did so much to further Louisiana cooking.
So what better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday, then with a big bowl of gumbo, Cajun style.
Creole generally has tomatoes, so let’s just stick to Cajun today!
It was -6 degrees in Denver over the weekend, so gumbo was a great way to warm up.
But, what is gumbo?
Gumbo is believed to have come from the Nigerian word, ngombo which is okra. The Choctaw Native Americans called okra, kombo. So I’m guessing this is how gumbo got its name!
Take your pick. In any case, this recipe for gumbo contains no okra. But, you could certainly add it, if you’d like!
Gumbo is actually a thick soup that is thickened with either okra, file or sassafras powder or a roux.
This shrimp and sausage gumbo begins with a strong stock, the holy trinity of veggies, some type of thickener-in this case, a roux- and some type of meat, chicken or seafood.
The Holy Trinity
The “holy trinity” of green peppers, onions and celery is found in most Cajun dishes.
Add in a lot of seasonings for flavor, but no, this gumbo is not too spicy.
If you want it spicier, just season it up with some Tabasco.
How do you make a roux?
A roux, just another type of white sauce which you might be more familiar with, is pretty easy to make as long as you follow a few simple steps.
Roux differs from white sauce in that instead of butter, oil is used.
Begin by heating your oil to smoking. Then slowly stir in the flour and avoid scorching. Always use a whisk and don’t get any of this on your skin…because it hurts!
Roux’s are cooked to a certain color. The longer they cook, the darker they get. In this gumbo’s case you want a dark colored roux. Manservant thought it smelled like popcorn while I was making it!
Just keep whisking until the gets to a red-brown color, or even black.
This shrimp gumbo recipe, also has added sausage and crab. My, oh my, this tasted better than my mother in law’s!
If you want to add oysters, feel free. I am not a huge fan, though they do give lots of flavor.
Can this gumbo with roux be made ahead?
Absolutely. I cooked our gumbo until it was time to add the seafood. Then I turned off the burner and let it sit. Shortly before I wanted to serve, I heated it back up to a simmer and threw in the shrimp and crab.
To serve it is a matter of spooning this savory and thick gumbo over a bit of steamed rice. Sprinkle with some chopped green onion; hot sauce on the side is optional.
Oh yeah. Don’t forget the cornbread! Let the good times roll!
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This roux based shrimp, crab and sausage gumbo is classic Louisiana fare. So good, so filling and perfect for Mardi Gras!
2 c chopped onions
1 1/2 c chopped green peppers
1 c chopped celery
3 bay leaves
2 t salt
1/2 t white pepper
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t thyme leaves
1/4 t oregano
3/4 vegetable oil
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 T minced garlic
6 c seafood stock (I used clam juice from bottles and also boiled my shrimp shells to make a light stock)
1 lb andouille smoked sausage or kielbasa, sliced into 2” chunks
1 lb medium peeled shrimp
3/4 lb crabmeat (I bought two packages of lump crab that come in a pouch in the seafood section)
3 c cooked rice
Please make sure to prep all ingredients before starting!
Combine onions, bell peppers and celery in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet until it begins to smoke over high heat. (I used a cast iron skillet.) As soon as it begins to smoke gradually add the flour, whisking constantly, with a long handled whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the roux is dark red brown to black, about 2 to 4 minutes. Do not let this scorch or splash on your skin!
Once it has changed to desired color, add half the vegetables and stir well. (You may switch to a spoon.) Continue stirring and cooking about 1 minute. Then add remaining vegetables and cook and stir for about 2 minutes.
Stir in seasonings and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic and stir and cook about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile place the stock in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add roux mixture by the spoonful, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil, add the sausage, turn heat down to low and let simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The gumbo may now be removed from heat until you are ready to add the seafood. If mixture is not thick enough, feel free to simmer longer. On the other hand if you prefer your gumbo with more liquid, feel free to add more chicken stock, seafood stock or just a bit of water.
If you chose to remove from the heat, bring mixture back up to a simmer before adding the shrimp and crabmeat. Let cook until shrimp have turned pink.
Skim any oil from the surface, though I did not need to.
To serve as a main course, mound 1/4 to a 1/2 c of steamed white rice, in the middle of each serving bowl. Spoon 1 cup of gumbo over the top, making sure everyone gets a good assortment of shrimp and sausage.
Another great recipe from Paul Prudhomme.
*You may add okra if you want.
You can use any combo of seafood if you like. I could not find oysters, but feel free to add a dozen medium sized ones if you can find them. Want more crab or more shrimp? Feel free to do this. This gumbo recipe just a base to design your own!
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