The gumbo I like best comes from Mississippi, my home state. There’s nothing quick and easy about making it, but the time spent produces a rich enough taste to satisfy the most discerning palate. It’s spiced softly and flavored by a deep, nutty-tasting roux, fresh vegetables, and a blend of sausage or chicken or seafood or all. To celebrate National Gumbo Day here are three favorite Mississippi gumbos – two from Delta Zeta sorority sisters from the University of Southern Mississippi and a third from a former governor and U.S. Senator whose gumbo recipe made it all the way to the archives of University of Southern Mississippi.
Beverly Johnson Mitchell’s family Dubisson-Pichon recipe is so popular her daughter-in-law had it transformed into the art reproduced above. For me, the two things that make this gumbo exceptional are the use of olive oil and adding part of the green onions early during the cooking, while reserving the rest for the final cooking stage.
Dubuisson-Pichon Seafood Gumbo
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup flour
- 4-6 cups peeled, deveined shrimp
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
- 1 1/2 c chopped green pepper
- 4 cups chopped okra
- 1 TBSP chopped garlic
- 1/2 pound sliced andouille
- 1 can tomato paste or canned tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 cups chopped green onion
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 3-6 boiled crabs cleaned, halved
- 1/2 tsp Tony’s
Instructions: In a large pot, sauté okra, onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and half of the green onions in olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer. Meanwhile, in an iron skillet, prepare a deep mahogany roux by whisking flour and oil over medium heat. Add andouille to roux and cook 1-2 minutes. Slowly add stock to roux and stir, forming a thick gravy. Add gravy and the rest of the stock to the pot and simmer for 30-60 min. Add shrimp, crab, bay leaves and reserved green onions and simmer for another 15-30 minutes.
Krhut’s Chicken, Crab and Shrimp Gumbo
Lorinda Smith Khrut, Delta Zeta sorority sister and longtime Director of Residence Life at University of Southern Mississippi, shared the family gumbo recipe she’s been cooking for more than 30 years. She got it from her mother-in-law and now the recipe is is part of the USM Dining Hall Gumbo Contest Recipe Collection.
- 1 whole chicken breast or whole chicken
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 4 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1- 1 lb. can stewed tomatoes
- 2 TBSP Piccapepper sauce or 8-10 drops Tabasco
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. claw crab meat
- 1 ½ lb. cleaned shrimp
- 1 – 10 oz. package frozen okra
Instructions: Boil the chicken in water seasoned with celery leaves. Broth will taste better if use a whole chicken. (Remove dark meat after cooking if using a whole chicken). Save the broth and add bouillon cube and enough water to make three cups. Dice chicken and set aside. Mix broth, chicken, and all ingredients except seafood and okra in large pot. Bring to boil and lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
While simmering, make the roux.
- 2/3 cup oil
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 cup white onion, chopped
- 1 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- ¼ cup bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 TBSP dried parsley
Instructions for Roux:
Brown the oil and flour in a heavy skillet for 30-45 minutes, stirring until the roux is caramel colored. (If the roux gets too dark, start over. This will make or break the gumbo). Add chopped vegetables and okra and still until wilted. Remove from heat and place in a 4 cup Pyrex container. Add hot water stirring to bring roux to 4 cups.
Add roux mixture to simmering soup. Simmer covered about one hour. (At this point, gumbo can be frozen for later use). Add crab meat and shrimp and continue simmering for 20 minutes. Turn off stove and let rest with lid on until ready to serve. (Recommend 1 hour if can wait that long).
Serve over rice with parsley garnish. At any point, gumbo may be thinned or increased by adding hot water or chicken broth.
The Governor’s Gumbo Is Tastier Than His Rhetoric
University of Southern Mississippi’s Special Collections houses the papers of former governor and U.S. Senator Theodore G. Bilbo. According to the archives, Bilbo thought himself a foodie and submitted his French Gumbo Filé recipe to the Mississippi Sun newspaper (Charleston), describing it as “the best dish in the world when it is properly prepared.” He also complained to the National Restaurant Association about the lack of gumbo in restaurants when taking the group’s Palate Poll. His 1941 recipe (well, the yellow carbon copy of it) is available at https://www.lib.usm.edu/spcol/exhibitions/item_of_the_month/iotm_feb_2013.
Happy National Gumbo Day! I’m off to eat the gumbo I cooked yesterday — it’s always better the second day.