Gumbo is the ultimate comfort food. The hearty stew is a true melting pot of cultural influences, combining ingredients and technique from African, French, Spanish and Native American cuisines. My favorite version is this Creole-style gumbo made with sausage and shellfish, backed up by the holy trinity of vegetables in Creole cooking—onion, celery and peppers. The addition of okra and filé powder, or sassafras, gives the gumbo its thick, silky texture. The dish’s success hinges on the roux, which is the foundation to all gumbos. To make a proper roux, you basically scorch the flour in the fat until it turns a deep shade of brown, creating the rich, roasty flavor we all love. For the best results, be sure to take your time with the roux. After you’ve nailed that step, the rest is a breeze.
- 1/2 cup rendered chicken fat (or vegetable oil)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 red bell pepper (cut into 1/4-inch dice)
- 1 bunch chives (thinly sliced for garnish)
- 3 celery ribs (cut into 1/4-inch dice)
- 3 garlic cloves (smashed)
- 1 habanero chile
- 1/2 pound okra (cut in half lengthwise)
- 1 onion (cut into 1/4-inch dice)
- 1 pound andouille sausage (sliced ¼-inch thick)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons gumbo filé powder (sassafras)
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 5 cups rich chicken stock
- 3 cups clam juice (bottled is fine)
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 24 shucked oysters (and their liquor)
- 1 pound lump crabmeat (picked over)
- freshly ground pepper
- steamed rice (for serving)
- In a large pot, stir 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup rendered chicken fat until smooth. Cook over moderate heat, stirring every 45 seconds, until the roux turns from white to blond to red to a rich brown color, about 15 to 20 minutes. You want it to be the color of the outside of a loaf of banana bread - a nice dark brown.
- While the roux is cooking, prepare your vegetables. Cut 1 red bell pepper into a 1/4-inch dice. Wrap 1 bunch of chives with a wet paper towel, which will help to hold them together, and thinly slice. Reserve for garnish. Using celery from the interior of the celery head if possible, cut 3 celery ribs and any attached leaves into a 1/4-inch dice.
- Make sure to keep an eye on the roux, stirring frequently. While the roux continues to cook, resume vegetable prep. Smash 3 garlic cloves and remove the paper. Make an incision in 1 habanero to help the pepper release its heat without making the soup too spicy (if you prefer a spicier soup, mince the habanero). Slice 1/2 lb. of okra in half lengthwise. Cut 1 onion into a 1/4-inch dice. Cut 1 lb. Andouille sausage into 1/4-inch slices.
- Once the roux is dark brown, add the red pepper, celery, garlic, habanero, okra and onion. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 bay leaves, 2 tsp. thyme, 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the filé powder and the Andouille sausage. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Next, add the 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire, 4 1/2 cups of the chicken stock, 2 1/2 cups of the clam juice and 1 cup tomato puree. Combine the remaining bits of chicken stock and clam juice, and reserve, adding it later in the cooking process if necessary. Bring the gumbo to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the habanero. Raise the heat to medium and add 24 oysters and their liquor. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until the oysters are just cooked through. Next, add 1 lb. crabmeat and gently submerge it into the gumbo to heat through. Add the remaining filé powder, reserving a few pinches for garnish. Taste the gumbo, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Ladle servings of the gumbo into individual bowls, topping with a scoop of white rice, the reserved chives and a sprinkle of filé powder.
|Calories370Calories from Fat140|
|% DAILY VALUE|
|Calories from Fat140|
|% DAILY VALUE|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.