A hearty, stick-to-your-ribs recipe for gumbo stew, packed full of smoked sausage, shrimp, okra, and served over rice.
There is something you should know about me. I am slowly going insane because I used “gotta” in the title above. Gotta is not an appropriate way to say anything, but “When You Have to Gumbo” is lacking the musical alliteration quality of the current title. Please overlook this grammatical foible as a form of creative license.
: the part of a sword or foil blade between the middle and point
: a minor flaw or shortcoming in character or behavior : weakness – Merriam-Webster
I have many foibles that could be attributed to my person. Some are larger than others, but I hope you can learn to overlook them and look at me as a package, complete with faults and inconsistencies and…oh, I didn’t put filé powder in the gumbo. I went the okra route. Hopefully not a dealbreaker.
The process of making gumbo involved a random sifting through the recipes available on the internet. I read through the lot of them, made a few notes, and then plucked bits and pieces from several sources, collecting and collating until I came up with something that sounded a bit different than what was available and a bit similar to what was traditional. Oh, and it involved ingredients I generally have on hand, hence the lack of certain ingredients for which I hope to be forgiven. No one cares, right? Good.
Gumbo is one of those meals that makes a lot of food. Easily doubled, it feeds a crowd. The most difficult parts are chopping (that’s what husband’s are for) and then having to smell it for the hour or more that it’s simmering away on the stove before you can dig in.
- If you prefer, you can always substitute the okra for filé powder to thicken it at the end instead. Not everyone is an okra fan.
- If you do want to use okra, fresh is best. I found mine at Whole Foods since the market is just about closed up for the season.
- I didn’t have any clam juice, so I just added water. “Just add water.” It’s like a pancake mix, except more savory. It wasn’t lacking for flavor. You could also always make shrimp stock from all those shrimp heads and peels you peeled yourself. Ahem. (Nope, didn’t do that either.)
- You don’t need to serve gumbo over rice. You could eat it as thick stew or serve it over quinoa or something similar.
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/3 cup safflower or peanut oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on heat preference
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water (can substitute clam juice)
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound okra, cut into coins
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 green onions, diced
Cooked rice for serving
In a large stockpot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon bits, drain on a paper towel, and set aside. Add the sausage to the bacon grease and cook until edges are lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil into the pan along with the bacon grease and sausage drippings. When the oil is hot, whisk in the flour. Continue cooking, stirring nearly continuously, until the mixture turns a golden brown life a coffee with cream color, about 10 minutes. Add in the remaining oil and the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, celery seed, cayenne, and the black pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomatoes and the white wine. Slowly stir in the stock and the water until they are incorporated. Add the bay leaves. Cover, bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Add the reserved sausage and then the okra and cook another 10 minutes, just until they are tender. Gumbo will thicken quickly after the okra is added. Stir in the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes until just opaque along the center. Stir in the green onions and season with salt just before serving. Serve over rice, garnished with parsley and bacon bits.
Makes 8-10 servings