or our interpretation of it, at least.
we are all on vacation albeit a “stay-at-home” type of vacation wherein we do some sorely neglected errands and maintenance (of home and bodies)…not the most exciting but surely restful and relaxing.
we even have time to cook up some time-consuming recipes. (translation: i get to order husband around to do some chopping and slicing for me. hehe.)
husband and i have never been to New Orleans, regretfully so. we were planning a trip, especially after reading the delicious account of fishfish when she attended a conference. until the hurricane. we are hopeful that someday we may still fulfill this dream.
we’ve had seafood gumbo, one of New Orleans’ signature dishes, or at least our interpretation of it, about 5 or 6 times in all our years together. there is also a grocery store near us that sells a luscious take-out (along with New England clam chowder) so we sort of have an idea of how it should taste. so after watching countless food network and create! and pbs cooking shows, here is our favorite version so far (also enhanced by references to several cookbooks and clippings and internet sources).
3 tbsps. butter
3 tbsps. flour
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup plum tomatoes, diced
2 cups chopped okra
2 tbsps. tomato paste
2 lbs. shrimp, peeled deveined, and seasoned with salt and pepper and a smidgen of cayenne pepper)
4oz.s each of picked over crabmeat, canned or fresh, and shucked oysters–include the liquor
8 cups water ( or stock or clam juice or a combination)
2 tsps. file powder (ground sassafras leaves, good luck looking for this! i found mine at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia)
1 lb. Anodouille sausage, minced and browned in ungreased skillet
more salt and pepper to taste
cooked long grain rice, to serve
make the roux by melting the butter over medium heat. add the flour and whisk constantly until dark reddish brown (like the color of crab fat). add the onions, peppers,celery, and garlic and saute until softened. add the tomatoes and okra
and saute until soft. add the water or stock and tomato paste, stirring.
let it simmer about 30 minutes then add the shrimp (and crabmeat and oysters if using). let simmer 5 minutes. then add the file powder and turn off the heat.
to serve: scoop the rice onto the bowls and pour the gumbo over. garnish with browned Andouille sausage and sliced scallions. (and Frank’s RedHot pepper sauce if you like it! ) (alternatively you may add the spicy sausage along with the seafood if you like the spicy flavor to permeate more into the gumbo).