Dad’s Seafood Gumbo recipe
(Serves 4-5 people) Ingredients
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 lb uncooked, unpeeled large shrimp
- 1 lb Andouille sausage (or you can substitute kielbasa if Andouille is not available)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 onion
- 1 green pepper
- 2 cartons of chicken broth (32 ounces each) + a bit more as needed
- 1 pkg cut okra (12 ounces) or fresh okra
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- roux (you will make this)
- dried seasonings – cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, dried red pepper flakes
- 3 bags of 10-minute rice (Success, Minute, or equivalent). You can serve long grain white rice but the instant is much easier given all you have to do with the gumbo!
- olive oil
- handful of flour or breadcrumbs
Use a slow cooker if possible- gumbo needs to cook at least 6 hrs. Chop vegetables (parsley, cilantro, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, 1/2 the onion, and celery) and put them in 32 ounces (1 carton) of chicken broth and begin cooking on low. This will be the start of your gumbo.
Next, cook shrimp separately at a low boil (just until they turn pink) in the remaining 32 ounce carton of chicken broth and save the broth for gumbo once the shrimp are finished cooking. Add only a bit of pepper for seasoning. Do not add salt as the chicken broth is already salty. Once shrimp are cooked, cool, peel, and refrigerate them. Remember to keep the chicken broth used to cook the shrimp. Keep shrimp for the last minute addition to your gumbo.
Okra is crucial – if you don’t have okra, you don’t have gumbo. The problem is, okra becomes really slimy if you just toss it into the gumbo and cook it. So here is the solution: cut it into small pieces, salt and pepper, add a little olive oil and fry the okra on low heat until it starts to look slightly brown. You can cook it with the sausage (sliced) and the remaining half onion as shown in the photo below. This may take 30 minutes or so. Add a little flour or breadcrumbs to soak up the flavors and oil, stir it, and add it to the gumbo vegetable mixture.Sautéing the sausage with the okra and onion
Next saute the chicken thighs in a small amount of oil until they just begin to brown. Drain away any fat, and then add the thighs to the gumbo. They will cook for several hours in the gumbo and the chicken basically falls apart during the cooking process. This is when you add the remaining broth that you saved after cooking the shrimp.
Add seasonings- cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, basil, dried red pepper. This is the fun part- you do this according to taste and experience- it comes out different each time. My wife always asks- is this a good batch? (usually – yes) Some people like it hot – others not- I usually divide it and make two batches, as I like mine hotter than most others. How much to add? Well- a simple rule that works well is to take each seasoning, one at a time , and sprinkle it over the top surface of the gumbo so you can see a fine layer. After they are all there, stir it well so they are blended into the entire mixture. Remember that red pepper will make it very spicy, so add with great caution.
15 minutes before you are ready to serve the gumbo, add your shrimp.
Next prepare the roux (which is to add flavor and adjust thickness): This is fun too and is done at the end. If the gumbo seems too thick, first add a little more chicken broth or water- if it is too thin, no problem, the roux will fix it. To make the roux, use a small frying pan and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom and creep up the sides a little, heat it over medium heat. Hold you hand over it later, to see if it seems warm right above it- if so, then add a sprinkling of flour all over the surface. Then stir it so it is a smooth, not too thick, paste. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika, cumin. Then let it cook, stirring frequently, until it turns sort of brown- be careful not to burn it. A light chocolate brown color is about right, and it should not look dark and burned. It should not be runny – it should be about the texture of peanut butter, so you may have to keep adjusting with oil and flour to get it right.
Then you add your roux to the gumbo, a little at a time, stirring as you go until the gumbo is the thickness that you like to spread nicely over rice. Some people like very thick gumbo and while others like it rather soupy. If you feel the gumbo is too thick, remember you can thin it by adding more chicken broth.
While you are cooking the roux, make the rice so that they are ready about the same time. Ladle gumbo over the rice and enjoy!
PS – People want to know what to serve with gumbo. You can start with a fresh green salad. Serve some crusty bread with the gumbo, and many folks like potato salad on the side, but this is certainly optional. For dessert (if you have any room left) think in terms of a bread pudding with rum or whisky, a rum raisin ice cream, or even something exotic like Bananas Foster!