Monday, March 7, 2011

Shrimp, Crab, and Andouille Gumbo (or Gumbeaux if you prefer)

In honor of Mardi Gras, we made a big Southern dinner for some friends last night. The main dish was a big pot of gumbo. My grandpa and father-in-law both make fabulous gumbo. For our version, we combined elements from both of their recipes along with some from Emeril's gumbo.

Gumbo is basically an all-day undertaking (don't trust a recipe that tells you you can make a "quick" gumbo!). You start with a roux (roux is just a mixture of fat + flour), which is cooked in a cast-iron skillet. The roux requires constant stirring and baby-sitting to ensure it doesn't burn. As the roux cooks and darkens, the flavor changes and intensifies. We cooked our roux to a medium chestnut brown. My Grandpa cooks his to a darker, chocolate brown and his has a much stronger flavor.

After you make your roux, you do what you do with pretty much any soup, and cook your aromatics along with some shrimp to give your stock the seafood flavor you want. Then you boil everything up for a few hours, and right before serving, add the rest of your seafoods and meat. We chose to use more shrimp (I love me a gumbo with generous amounts of shrimp- if they're gulf shrimp, so much the better), fresh crabmeat, and andouille sausage. Other common choices would be cooked chicken and kielbasa or another type of sausage. I've also added okra, because I love it.

This recipe makes a big ol' pot serving about 14-16 people (gumbo is a celebration kind of dish in our family). Serve over white rice to temper the heat.

Shrimp, Crab, and Andouille Gumbo

For roux: 1 cup canola oil + 1 3/4 cups flour
2 chopped yellow onions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 chopped green bell peppers
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3-4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Dashes of Crystal hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons Essence of Emeril
1/2 cup beer
8 cups seafood stock (chicken stock if you can't find it) + 2 cups water
3 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
2 pounds andouille sausage, cooked and sliced
2 cups okra, sliced (fresh or frozen)
Salt and pepper

1. Make your roux. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet until nearly smoking. Slowly whisk in your flour, then lower the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until light chestnut brown. You can cook the roux for another hour to the color of dark chocolate for a much richer flavor. If you get black specks in your roux, it's ruined and you have to start over.
2. Add the roux to a big stockpot. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and half of your shrimp. Sautee until vegetables are limp, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the bay, parsley, hot sauce, and spices. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add in the beer and cook for a minute, then add the stock and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
4. Add the okra, remaining shrimp (raw), crabmeat, and andouille. Bring the gumbo back to a boil, then simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Taste for salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve over rice.


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