The food networks and the fancy chef’s want to make Gumbo a hard to make dish. Just because you add seafood, as to your taste of ingredients, does not mean a recipe needs to be difficult. It is an every day meal. Once you realize how easy it is then you too will find it is a twice a month chow down for the entire family, possible friends and definitely for the occasional family gatherings.
Being from the Gulf Coast of Texas and a southerner. We have two things of abundance and that is Seafood and Okra.
Okra is slimy on its own but when cooked with a high acidic, such as tomatoes it cuts the slime that it produces and is pretty much not noticeable. Okra, like eggplant, has a very nice flavor and a defined texture that adds to stews, soups and side dishes. Most folks learn to love okra fried before they try it stewed but in Gumbo it is just another vegetable in a stew but when missing makes the Gumbo seem like it is missing a distinguished part of the dish.
When the gulf waters warm in the spring the fish become feisty and as folks start to move around in warm weather then they are out fishing or eating the fresh catch from the Gulf. My father in law would take us out on his boat to dredge for shrimp, this was the early years of my marriage, and we would pull everything up in the net. We would get a few shrimp, mostly because the professional shrimpers came out at the break of dawn and cleaned out pretty much everything from the Gulf of Mexico, and we would get crab and fish. It would seem like a treasure hunt and a great find to get a flounder or a drum in our net. This usually lead to a menagerie of fish. Which in turn lead to a rich smooth Sunday afternoon Gumbo and then a nap.
I have made this recipe with Chicken, Sausage, Shrimp and Crab but you can add or delete ingredients as you please. If you have never had Gumbo before try it just with Chicken and Sausage first and then add Seafood as you please. I tend to prefer it all seafood and even add fish to mine but like I said before I have grown up on the Gulf Coast and seafood is a part of living here.
Served best with a white wine, rice and cornbread.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Creole seasoning
- 1 cup Vegetable Oil
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 Bell peppers, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ pound Okra, chopped into rounds
- 12 shrimp, shells removed and deveined
- ¼ lb of Crab, special, claw or lump if you are not shelling whole crabs yourself.
- 1 lb smoked sausage, spicy or not depends on your taste
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tb butter
- Spices for Stew:
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Poultry Seasoning
- 21/2 tsp Gumbo Filet
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 2 tsp Salt
- 64 ounces chicken broth
- Set oven for 350 degrees
- Put chicken in pan and sprinkle with creole seasoning. It is spicy so use as little or as much as you want. It will add a bit to the dish. Cook for 45 minutes and dice into a bowl and set aside.
- Cut up the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic into a medium bowl.
- Cut up the okra into a separate bowl.
- Cut up sausage into another bowl.
- Put all seafood after being prepared in their own bowl.
- Cooking Gumbo:
- Add olive oil and butter to a dutch oven.
- Cook the onion,celery, bell peppers and garlic till the vegetables are softened. Remove back into their original bowl
- Cook sausage in the dutch oven till they are browned. Remove and place into their original bowl.
- Add vegetable oil and flour and mix till the flour is well blended with the oil.
- Turn heat on medium and stir constantly till the mixture turns a peanut butter color. Seriously it will turn dark and thick so stay with it. If it turns too dark it will burn and the gumbo will taste burned.
- Carefully add the 32 ounces of chicken broth to the roux. Add the vegetables, including the okra and canned tomatoes, Then add the chicken and sausage to stew. Add the spices and stir. Add broth as needed to keep an easy stir and to loosen up the thick roux. You want it thick like gravy not like cement. Cook 20 minutes. Then add the shrimp, or any other seafood that you are adding,and any additional broth needed to loosen the stew. Filet will thicken the mixture more after adding and additional broth may be needed after the 20 minutes of cooking. Cook with the seafood an additional 20 minutes and serve.