2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped bell peppers
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup chopped scallions (optional)
6 andouille or smoked sausages
1 lb. chicken thighs, drumsticks (or whole chicken)
2 lb. shrimp (preferably with heads)
2 cups crab meat and/or six crabs (preferably blue)
2 quarts chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon black pepper
Cooked white, brown, or Basmati rice.
Filé (ground sassafrass)
First make a seafood broth from the cleaned seafood. Shell and devein (BOTH veins–on the back and under the belly!) shrimp, reserving shells. Clean crabs, reserve shells. Cover shells in a pot of cold water and simmer to make a stock (you may add a stalk of celery, a carrot, or other items you’d put in a home-made stock.)
Stop everything. Eliminate all distractions. No dogs, no kids, no phone. Now comes the roux. The Roux. It is also called Louisiana napalm.
To make the roux, I heat the peanut oil in a cast-iron 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When, hot, I slowly whisk in the flour, smoothing and stirring until all flour has been added. Then I may or may not turn up the heat, but I keep stirring slowly, as the flour turns, golden, then tan, then milk chocolate, then dark chocolate. Do NOT burn the roux. If you do, throw it out and start all over. Your ingredients are too expensive to put into a bitter batch of something that looks like gumbo but tastes awful.
Be respectful of the roux. When it is a rich chocolate brown, add the chopped or minced garlic, chopped onions, bell peppers and chopped celery. This is called the holy trinity in New Orleans. Stir and mix well with the roux, continuing to stir so that the holy trinity wilts and cooks in the fat and flour mixture.
Thyme, salt, red & black peppers and the tomato paste should be added now. Slowly pour or ladle in the stock and chicken broth, stirring until all the ingredients are well mixed, turn down to a low simmer, and put a lid on the pot. Simmer about 10 minutes, then add the chicken.
Slice thin sausage medallions and quickly and lightly brown in a large skillet. Set aside.
After broth has simmered about 20 minutes, add okra. Simmer 5 minutes. Then add shrimp and simmer 5 minutes. Add fresh crab (NOT canned), and simmer 5 minutes. Add canned crabmeat. Add oysters. Stir everything together and simmer 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Although gumbo always tastes better the next day, who can resist?
To serve, put ½ cup or LESS of rice into a bowl, and ladle gumbo — Louisiana Love — over the rice. It should be soupy, not like gravy.
Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of filé over the gumbo. Enjoy!