By Susan Benton
New Orleans, aka the Crescent City is a fascinating place, known for diversity, culture, and its rich heritage. Put it all in a bowl to eat and enjoy, and you would have what is known as gumbo.
• 1 gallon seafood stock, or water to make own
• 1/2 dozen fresh cleaned gumbo crabs
• 2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve the shells and heads to make seafood stock)
• 1 pound smoked andouille sausage, cut into 1 inch rounds
• 2 pounds okra cut 1/4 inch
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (top saved for stock)
• 6 large cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• 3 stalks celery, chopped ( bottoms and tops saved for stalk)
• 1 bunch green onions, tops and bottoms, chopped
• 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
• 1 pound crab meat, picked and cleaned of shells and cartilage
• 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
• 2 bay leaves
• 4 tablespoons filé powder
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 6 cups steamed white rice
Option: one pint fresh shucked oysters, about 20
Clean the crabs, removing the lungs, heart and glands and other parts so that only the pieces of shell containing meat (including the legs, swimmers and claws) remain. Refrigerate the meaty parts of the crabs.
Option: Add fresh lump crab meat no shell as seen in my photo
Put the portions of the crabs that have been removed into a 6- or 8-quart stockpot. Add the shrimp heads and shells, onion top, celery bottom and tops, and a gallon of water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the pieces are slightly brown and much of the fat has been rendered. Remove the sausage and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Once all the sausage has been cooked, wipe the excess oil from the skillet, being careful not to scrub away those bits of sausage that have stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Add the okra with 2 tablespoons of oil, and cook until it is no longer slimy. Put on paper towel and set aside.
Place the 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a 12-quart stockpot. Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, a tablespoon at a time slowly add the 1/2 cup flour to prepare the roux, stirring constantly. Once all the flour has been added, continue heating and stirring the roux until it becomes a medium brown color, similar to milk chocolate, about 15-20 minutes. Add the onions to the roux, stirring constantly. Once the onions are wilted, add the garlic, parsley, celery, green onions and bell pepper. Strain the seafood stock into the large stockpot. Add the browned sausage and bay leaves and bring everything to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook.
Add the okra to the gumbo pot. Continue cooking the gumbo for 45-60 minutes. Add the reserved crabs and shrimp and cook for 15 minutes longer (Option: You can also add 1 pint raw shucked oysters at this time).Remove the gumbo from the heat and stir in the Creole seasoning and filé powder (powder can be reserved for use table side). Let the gumbo rest for 15 to 20 minutes. As it cools, oil may form on the top. Skim the oil with a ladle or large spoon and discard. Fold in the picked crab meat. Taste the gumbo and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed.
To serve: Ladle the gumbo into shallow bowls and pile some rice in the center. Sprinkle the parsley and green onions over the top. Pass the French bread and hot sauce at the table.
Gumbo bowls from the former D.H. Holmes in New Orleans, passed on to me from my mother-in-law, a native New Orleanian.