6 to 8 servings
Gumbo, a thickened soup or
stew served over hot cooked rice, is the crowning achievement of Creole cookery. The number of ingredients
can be lengthy and the preparation a bit time consuming, but the flavor is well worth
the effort. Many varieties of fish and
seafood, as well as ham and chicken, are used in preparing a tasty gumbo. Okra is usually the essential ingredient,
although it is often omitted in New
Orleans. The word gumbo, or gumbo, is
a Creole patois corruption of the African word for okra. File powder is added for
thickening just before serving, although flour is used
sometimes as a substitute.
pound small shrimp
to 4 pounds assorted chicken pieces (breast pieces, thighs, drumsticks, and
wings) (see note)
- Water as needed
ounces andouille sausage, cut into bite-size pieces, or beef or pork link sausage, casing removed
tablespoons bacon drippings or cooking oil
ribs celery, including leaves, chopped
to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
large onion, peeled and chopped
leek, thinly sliced
medium green pepper, cored, seeds removed, and chopped
fresh or dried bay leaf, broken
(14 to 16-ounce) can diced tomatoes (include liquid)
cup chopped parsley (no stems)
tablespoons each finely snipped fresh basil and thyme leaves (no
stems), or 1½ teaspoons each dried basil and
teaspoons Worcestershire sauce or to taste
teaspoon seafood seasoning or to taste (see note)
pepper sauce to taste
and freshly ground black pepper to taste
ounces okra, thinly sliced crosswise, or 1 (9-ounce) package frozen sliced okra
to 16 ounces crabmeat (see note)
tablespoon lemon juice
file as desired
cooked rice as desired (optional)
shells and tails from shrimp and devein; place shrimp on ice, cover, and
refrigerate until ready to use. In a
medium heavy saucepan, combine shrimp shells and enough water to cover
thoroughly; bring to a boil over moderate heat and continue to simmer for 20
minutes. Remove from heat, discard
shells, and reserve shrimp stock for gumbo.
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, combine chicken and
enough water to cover thoroughly. Bring
to a boil over moderate heat; reduce heat and simmer, cover ajar, for about 1
hour or until chicken is fork tender.
Remove chicken from liquid and allow chicken to cool until easy to
handle. Transfer chicken stock to a
container and reserve. Remove and
discard skin and bones from chicken; cut chicken into bite-size pieces, cover,
and reserve. While chicken is cooking,
sauté sausage in a medium heavy skillet over moderate heat; drain sausage,
crumble link sausage, and set aside.
the large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat bacon drippings or oil over moderate
heat; gradually stir in flour, blending well.
Cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat until mixture is copper
brown in color, about 20 minutes. Be
careful to not scorch or burn roux. Add
celery, garlic, onion, leek, green pepper, bay leaf, tomatoes, parsley,
basil, thyme, seasonings, reserved sausage, and reserved chicken and shrimp
stocks/liquids. Bring to a boil over
moderate heat; reduce temperature and simmer, uncovered, for 2½ hours, stirring
occasionally. Add reserved chicken and fresh
okra and continue simmering 30 minutes.
Add shrimp and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice, frozen okra, if used, and 1 tablespoon file
powder or to taste, and crabmeat. Adjust
seasonings to taste.
serve, ladle hot mixture into bowls. May serve over hot cooked rice, if
desired. Additional gumbo file may be
passed to sprinkle over each serving, if desired.
Note: May use boneless, skinless
pieces of chicken, if desired; decrease amount to1½ to 2 pounds. However, the bones and skin add much
to the flavor of the chicken stock in the gumbo.
sausage, if desired; add 8 ounces cubed fully-cooked smoked ham or Smithfield-style ham to gumbo
crabmeat; increase shrimp to 1½ pounds.
Or, add 8 to 16 ounces boneless catfish or other firm whitefish pieces to gumbo with the shrimp.