Friday, June 5, 2009



These days I'm emptying the freezer of soups and sauces that have been patiently awaiting use these many months. I ran across a container marked "gumbo" a while back and saved it for a special night when we were hungry for something that was special, but wouldn't take forever to cook. I knew I only needed to add some shrimp, andouille sausage and okra, so I pulled it out and defrosted it for dinner yesterday. Imagine my surprise when what I finally poured out of the plastic freezer container was pumpkin pie filling! (Well, they look alike when they're viewed in a rock solid state through Tupperware!) It was approaching 5 in the afternoon, but I braved rush hour traffic to pick up the rest of the makings. I had all those shrimp, after all. Luckily, gumbo doesn't take long to cook. And it was delicious.

What gives gumbo its distinctive flavor is its thickening base, the roux, which can be a bit scary upon contemplation, since it involves slightly burning the flour, but with a bit of care and common sense this step is not complicated. This recipe is an intuitive amalgam of my own based on watching an old New Orleans friend make it and backed up by what's found in many cookbooks.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium ribs celery, coarsley chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. okra, trimmed and sliced
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, sliced into chunks
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Cooked rice

Pour oil into large saucepan and whisk in flour to incorporate completely. Over medium high heat, stir flour and oil until flour begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until flour is nut-brown, almost cocoa-like, in appearance and has a warm, nutty aroma. Remove from heat.

Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic bay leaves, oregano and pepper flakes to roux and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until all is well coated and vegetables slightly softenend, 5-7 minutes.

Add sliced okra, stir to combine, add andouille and tomatoes, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in shrimp, and allow shrimp to cook in residual heat for about 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve immediately over rice.


Anonymous said...

Gotta give this one a try, thanks. Any substitute for the okra? Do you close on your house next week? Get me the name of your Realtor team. I have a doctor up there in Reston thinking of selling and moving here. Please.

Ralph said...

LOL! Sorry, Z&M, there is no substitute for okra in my book. Some say filé gumbo is a thickener but I've never used it. Okra is fine of you don't undercook it.
this is not runny or otherwise "okra-like" at all. I swear.

I'm sending realtor info in separate email.