If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you probably have noticed that I have a strong affinity for Cajun and Creole food. What can I say? I live in the South and I love garlic and shrimp and when they simmer with trinity, then life, at least at supper time, is good.
I didn’t take any pictures of the shrimp gumbo making process, but I do have a decent final shot and since many of the ingredients and steps are similar to that of my shrimp etouffee, which is my eight-year-olds favorite dinner, in the “whole wide world, next to Taco Johns,” which he has had exactly once on a trip to Minnesota, but apparently made an impression. You can make your own judgments on his tastes, just know that I try to take that mixed compliment as gracefully as I can. (He also told his grandmother that she makes the best chili ever, while she was opening a can of Hormel’s) I had to leave the room after that little gem.
Now, these ingredients are flexible (except for the file which you shouldn’t omit) Sure, you can omit it, but it just won’t be the same.
Everything else, except the roux, substitute to your heart’s content. Got it? (Just keep the liquid to roux ratio the same. Alton Brown, one of my culinary heroes, has a great show on gumbo, in which he demonstrates how to make a roux in the oven)
Good gumbo is a great cool or rainy weather meal, it has plenty of vegetables, so just serve over rice and call it done. Personally, I find leftover shrimp gumbo even better than the first time around, maybe the flavors meld better, maybe it’s that it’s almost as good as when someone else makes it for you. (The best food is always magically appearing, but leftover gumbo is a close second). As written this recipe will make about 3 quarts of soup, so unless you’re feeding a big crowd, you should get at least 2 or 3 meals out of it.
I highly recommend using enameled cast iron, and you don’t even have to spring for Le Crueset. A stock pot will certainly work to make roux, but you’re going to have to be diligent with stirring to avoid scorching, and a thin pan may invite frustration. If you don’t have a large (6 quart enameled cast iron) and only have a small one, by all means, make the roux in the small pot and transfer to the stock pot to finish. You’ll thank me when your roux doesn’t scorch.
And on to the recipe, yes, you can totally substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the shrimp stock, if you MUST.
: Shrimp Gumbo
: Cajun comfort food
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into coins
- 2 quarts stock
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 ribs of celery, diced/chopped
- 3 bell peppers, diced – you can go all green if you want, but red ones are sweeter, even if they are so dang spendy
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 lb okra pieces, I use frozen. . . judge me if you must.
- 1 tablespoon file powder
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Make a roux by heating the oil and flour over medium low heat, when the roux is peanut butter colored, you may stop as you’ll have a good flavor (for a full roux tutorial look at the Shrimp Etouffee recipe). If you really want a more authentic Cajun gumbo, turn down the heat to low and keep on keepin’ on until your roux is brick or chocolate colored. DO NOT USE BURNT ROUX, there is a distinct difference, even though the line from awesome to ruined is thin, proceed with caution.
While the roux is working, brown the andouille sausage in another pan (if you’re going to use a stock pot for the gumbo go ahead and use that).
Personally, I like to get my roux where I like it and set it aside for a few minutes while I cook the onions, bell pepper, and celery with the andouille sausage over medium-high heat. Alternately, you can cook the roux just under where you want it and finish it mixed with vegetables. It’s up to you, but cook the trinity until the onions are translucent, somewhere in the 7-minute range, a little over or under depending on your pan. Add the garlic and stir to combine.
- Grab your whisk or favorite wooden spoon.
- Slowly add the 2 quarts of stock, and stir constantly to ensure the stock is fully incorporated into the roux. Turn the heat to low.
- Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper (I go with about 2 teaspoons of salt, and a few good grinds of pepper)
- Add the okra, stir.
- When the stew has reheated from the addition of the okra, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is nearly done (becomes opaque).
- Add the file powder, stir thoroughly, cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes to thicken.
- Serve over rice.
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)
Interested in shrimp? Check out these recipes: