Over the years, as friends and relatives wrote down their gumbo recipes for me, they detailed every step. These cooks wanted to make sure my gumbo tasted as good as theirs. And, maybe, they were a bit unsure of my cooking skills. So, don’t let the length or the details of the recipes intimidate you. Making gumbo takes a while, even with a microwave, but the recipes make enough to last several days. And, gumbo is always better the next day.
This is the base for seafood or chicken gumbo for approximately 12 people.
2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 cup Crisco (you can substitute ½ cup corn oil in you worry about cholesterol, but do not use more than that). This is your roux base.
Brown it on the top of the stove very slowly; or you can bake it in 400 degree oven stirring every 15 minutes. It should be about the color of light brown and dark brown mixed with a little coffee grounds thrown in. It usually should be a little bit darker than you think it should be because it apparently turns lighter when you quit cooking it and stirring in liquids.
For the liquid, I use about 1 quart of chicken stock, 2 chicken bouillon cubes, and if I am making seafood gumbo I might even add some water that I have cooked shrimp in. ‘Course the shrimp would have been cleaned before I cooked them and there would have been no seasoning in the water. Lotsa time when I cook shrimp for other dishes I save the water and freeze it and use it for gumbo. You will have to add water to the gumbo as you cook it until you get it the consistency you desire.
After you have roux made, sauté one cupped finely chopped green pepper, two cups finely chopped onions, 3 cups finely chopped celery in ½ cup Crisco. Then stir the vegetables into the roux and generally add the liquids made up of chicken stock, etc. (if you are making this for chicken or beef gumbo you can add a tablespoon or two of powdered beef stock base).
For seasonings, use garlic powder (or fresh garlic, 2 cloves} oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, a tablespoon or two of Worchestershire Sauce, parsley flakes. Seasonings are a matter of personal taste, but this is usually about what I use: 2-3 tablespoons parsley flakes, 1 tablespoon Worchestershire, 3 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp thyme, ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp oregano. Just experiment and add as your taste develops. If you intend to use real filé do not put it in until just before you serve the gumbo. Add about 2 tablespoons tomato paste for extra color and flavor. I also use a bit of okra only for flavor – but for thickening. The okra must be finely chopped – only about a ½ or ¾ cupful.
This is simmered about 1 ½ to 2 hours until spices really develop flavor; add 3 pounds of raw, cleaned, peeled shrimp about 20 to 30 minutes before you serve it and be sure shrimp are thoroughly cooked. If you can get a pound of cooked crab meat, put that it. Crab meat usually gives that sweet flavor to seafood gumbo. (Canned crab meat will not take place of fresh crab meat). Do not put fish in seafood gumbo. Some people put oysters in their seafood gumbo. I don’t cause I don’t like oysters. However, if you try it, I recommend that you fry them first. After seafood is cooked, check salt seasoning. It may need more.
Serve over hot rice and sprinkle chopped green onions on top of each bowl. Some people like it hot so set Tabasco on table.
Gladys’ Off the Coast Gumbo
4 tablespoons oleo or bacon drippings, 6 tablespoons flour. This should be browned in skillet without burning. Be sure it is good and brown before adding spices or liquids.
½ tsp red pepper; 1 rounded tablespoon salt (maybe less); 2 quarts water; 1 medium bell pepper (chopped fine), 2 complete celery stalks (including leaves, chopped fine); 2 medium onions (chopped fine); 2 or 3 cloves garlic (minced fine); 1 can cream of chicken soup (or 2 cups chicken stock or canned broth may be used); 1 rounded teaspoon chicken stock base; #303 stewed tomatoes; 1 small can tomato puree (not paste); 1 tablespoon dry parsley (crushed fine); 4 – 6 strips bacon or leftover ham (cut up fine); 2 tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce; ½ tsp ground thyme; ¼ tsp curry powder; 1 Bay leaf; 1 tsp ground hot pepper; 1 tsp celery seed; 2 tsp Allspice; 1 tsp lemon juice; ½ tsp sugar; 1 pkg. frozen chopped okra; ¼ cup uncooked rice; 2 ½ cups shrimp; 1 can crabmeat (if desired); 1 package halibut or other frozen fish filets. All ingredients (except frozen okra and fish) should cook or simmer for 2 to 3 hours before adding fish or okra.
Before serving, add filé powder – 1 tsp more or less depending upon consistency of gumbo.
2 cups grease (1 Crisco, 1 oil) 4 cups flour. Heat skillet, add grease and get hot. Stir in flour slowly to arrive at paste stage. Cook roux slowly until between light and dark brown. If space permits (you can do vegetables separately and put with roux later), add 4 big onions, chopped, and cook till half done. Also add 1 chopped bell pepper, 16 stalks chopped celery, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 cup dried parsley, 2 handfuls okra, sliced thin. Add 4 quarts boiling water and 2 beef bouillon cubes. Then add 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 4 slices fried bacon, 4 bay leaves, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon filé, ½ teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon rosemary, Worchestershire sauce, and Tabasco. Simmer until flavors meld. Add seafood (oysters, shrimp, crabs, one or all), more filé, spices and water to taste. Simmer at least 15 minutes more.
Mary Ann’s Mama’s Secret
In addition to enough shrimp and crab for each spoonful of gumbo, Mary Ann’s Mama added live uncooked crabs, which had been thoroughly cleaned and split, to the gumbo where they were cooked. When folks dipped their bowl of gumbo, they also received a half crab and two crab claws. By the time they finished their gumbo, the crabs were cool enough to pick and eat. That’s the real secret!
Tom’s Quick & Easy Micro-Roux
I know that it is officially cheating, but when pressed for time and dreading the cleanup of the iron skillet it does a credible job. In fact I have never scorched a roux in the nuker but have incinerated many in the skillet. (usually because distracted by a Martini) Use a clear pyrex covered casserole in the microwave (covered). Once your butter has melted and You have stirred in your flour to make a paste it is easy to keep an eye on the color of the flour because of the clear pyrex. Just stir on occasion until you achieve the degree of brownness you like. In a short period of time you have a great roux with a reduced margin of error.