Saturday, February 22, 2014


A few weeks ago we celebrated Jonathan's birthday by having a few friends over.  I made shrimp and sausage Gumbo for the occasion - a family recipe.  I would say secret, but it's really not rocket science.  Besides, I cheat and use a roux starter from a jar instead of taking the time to make my own roux.  A roux - for those not acquainted with Cajun cooking - is essentially just oil and flour mixed together and cooked until it turns light or dark brown.  It thickens the liquid slightly and provides the rich, nutty taste for which gumbo is famous.  Using a roux starter saves me the time of standing at the stove stirring.  I'm not really even tempted to feel like a lame cook for taking this shortcut, because roux starter or not, this gumbo is a crowd pleaser.

I started with a few tablespoons of roux starter (or good old fashioned stirred at the stove roux) in a mixture of half water, half chicken broth (about 6 cups).  I let it simmer for about 20 minutes, while we peeled and deveined a bag of frozen shrimp.  I despise deveining shrimp.  Gumbo can technically be made with just chicken or sausage, the gumbo my grandma made growing up always had shrimp, so I never skimp on the seafood.  
Also while the roux simmers, I chop up some good andouille sausage, an onion, bell pepper, and most importantly, okra.  You can't make gumbo without it.  In fact, the word gumbo may originate from an old word for okra.  I got mine at whole foods, since sometimes you don't see it at your usual supermarket.  
All that gets thrown in the roux pot and cooked at a low boil for about 30 minutes.  A little salt doesn't hurt.  
It's easy to make and feeds a small army when ladled over white rice.  

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