I love gumbo! My problem was that I didn’t have a family gumbo recipe, passed down through the generations. Essentially, I had to start from scratch. What better place to begin than with the master of Creole cooking, Paul Prudomme. I pulled my gumbo recipe from Prudomme’s 1986 cookbook, Louisiana Kitchen. Prudomme’s basic gumbo recipe is a perfect place to begin.
With all due respect to Chef Prudomme, I would make a couple changes to this recipe. First, the roux. This recipe calls for the roux to be cooked in four minutes. I believe this is too fast. Good gumbo requires patience and part of that patience is in preparing a proper roux. Cook your roux slowly until is it a deep redish brown. Be careful not to burn your roux.
Rather that keep the gumbo at a boil, bring stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Boiling your stock mixture will break your meat apart, it will also turn your oysters to rubber.
You will also notice that this recipe doesn’t include okra or file powder. I don’t usually enjoy okra in my gumbo and traditionally roux based gumbo’s don’t include okra. However, one of the beautiful things about gumbo is that there are virtually endless combinations of flavor combinations. Include okra is you wish. You will also notice that Chef doesn’t include tomatoes in his recipe. Without getting into the debate over whether tomatoes should be included in authentic gumbo recipes, okra and tomatoes are a great combination. If using tomatoes in your gumbo, consider adding okra as well.
Finally, I have also substituted my own all-purpose seasoning for Chef’s seasoning. Alas, my seasoning mix is unpublished at this time.
2 cups chopped onions
1 ½ cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
Seasoning mix (see recipe)
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 ½ cups seafood stock (see note)
1 pound andouille smoked sausage or other, such as Polish sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 pound peeled medium shrimp
1 dozen medium to large oysters in their liquor, about 9 ounces, or canned clams
¾ pound crabmeat (picked over; see note)
2 ½ cups hot cooked rice
For seasoning mix:
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
In medium-size bowl, combine onions, bell peppers and celery.
Prepare seasoning mix.
In large heavy skillet, heat oil over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 5 minutes. Gradually add flour, whisking constantly with a long-handled metal whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to black, about 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Immediately add half the vegetables and stir well (switch to a spoon if necessary). Continue stirring and cooking about 1 minute. Add remaining vegetables and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Stir in seasoning mix and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; stir well, then cook and stir about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, place stock in 5 ½-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add roux mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Add andouille and return to a boil; continue boiling 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes more. Add shrimp, undrained oysters and crabmeat. Return to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and skim any oil from the surface. Serve immediately.
To serve as a main course, mound ¼ cup rice in the middle of each serving bowl. Spoon 1 cup gumbo over the top, making sure each person gets an assortment of the seafood and andouille. For appetizer servings, serve half this amount in a cup.
Note: Seafood stock is available at high-end food stores and larger supermarkets.
In small bowl, mix all ingredients well.
Notes: Crabmeat can be omitted without sacrificing flavor. More shrimp can be added in its place.