Shrimp Gumbo

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(Original Post Date:  December 21, 2010)

The weather here in San Diego has been rainy and cold all week long… and like many native Californians, this kind of weather makes me want to curl up in a ball (and not get out of bed), turn the heater on full blast, and eat nothing but soup.  I can’t exactly curl up into a ball… because, you know, I have to go to work…. (sigh)… and a certain husband (who is always hot and never gets cold) will not let me crank up the heater… so the only thing I can do to make myself feel a tiny bit better, is to make some nice hot soup!  I felt like making Shrimp Gumbo after watching a re-run episode (Bowl O’ Bayou) of my favorite Food Network show, “Good Eats”.

Alton Brown’s method for baking gumbo roux in the oven is really great – it saves a lot of time, and you don’t need to stand over the stove babysitting the roux so that it doesn’t burn.  AB’s recipe calls for file powder (ground dried sassafras leaves)… but I don’t think we have that here in California.  (At least, I’ve never seen it, or even heard of it).  I prefer to add okra to thicken the gumbo – but not until the last minute, to prevent the okra from overcooking and turning into green slimy mush.

Shrimp Gumbo:

1/2 c. canola oil

4 oz. (about 1 c.) flour

1.5 pounds raw shrimp, shell on

1 onion

2 bell peppers

2 stalks celery

2 cloves garlic

2 c. chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 lb. andouille or spicy sausage, uncooked

1/2 lb. okra, sliced

salt to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  To make the roux, whisk the flour and oil into a oven-safe pot.

2.  Bake the roux for 1.5 hours.  Every 20 minutes or so, open the oven and stir the roux with a whisk.  The color of the roux will eventually deepen to a dark brick color.

3.  While the Roux is baking, peel and de-vein the shrimp.  Put the shells into a medium pot.

4.  Add about 6 cups of water to the shrimp shells, and make shrimp stock by simmering for about 1 hour.  Add a little extra water if needed.  You can also add the end pieces of the celery and onion for a little extra flavor.  Set aside the cleaned shrimp, and put back into the refrigerator until ready.

5.  Strain the shrimp stock.  You should have 4 cups – if not, you can add a little bit of water to make 4 cups.

6.  Chop the onion, bell pepper, and celery.  Mince the garlic.

7.  Dice the tomato and okra, set aside.

8.  Cook the sausage in a pan, drain, and set aside.

9.  When the Roux is done, remove it from the oven and place it back over medium heat on the stove.  Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly.

10.  Add the tomatoes and seasonings, and stir to combine.

11.  Add the shrimp broth while stirring, a little bit at a time.

12.  Bring the broth to a simmer, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes.

13.  Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium, then add the okra and cook for 2 minutes.

14.  Add the raw shrimp and cooked sausage, and cook another 2 minutes.  Taste and add more salt if needed.

15.  Serve over rice.

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