yes, the good times rolled at our house over the weekend. i know, mardi gras isn’t really until tuesday, but since it always falls on a school night, and we since we had a few birthdays to celebrate, we chose saturday night to make some seafood gumbo and get our mardi gras on!
getting the holy trinity ready ( i used an orange bell pepper instead of green) :
gumbo can be quite an undertaking if you don’t enlist the help of friends. thankfully, Dr. Mark assisted by making the shrimp stock and some other goodies ahead of time. you could also use the method below for making the stock.
this story now becomes the saga of the roux and how i won. it’s like a fairy tale, really. the first roux was too light. the second one was too dark (like burned!). the third one was just right. i had never made gumbo before, but i had made a roux–i just don’t know how i got into this mess. i highly recommend that you do this part before having a glass of gruet sparking rose the way i did. the pictures could be better but hey, it was me or the roux and i was in it to win it.
very blonde roux:
and darker still:
i took just a bit darker before adding the veggies and stock, but i could not get a shot of it without burning it (believe me i tried).
susan, the birthday girl waiting in line for her gumbo (that’s Dr. Mark on the right).
seafood gumbo (adapted from poppy tooker, self-described new orleans food activist)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 gumbo crabs*
3 lbs. shrimp
1 onion, chopped
1 bellpepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb okra, sliced 1/4″
1 leek (white and light green part only) sliced into 1/4″ rings
oil for frying okra and leeks
1 – 16 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 quarts shrimp stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 thinly sliced green onions
salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste
* because i did not have access to gumbo crabs, i used a lb of fresh lump crab meat.
option to make shrimp stock: peel shrimp and combine peels, onion skins and tops in a stock pot. cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. strain and reserve.
fry okra and leeks in very hot oil until lightly browned. you can bread them before frying like we did, if you like. allow to drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. set aside.
on a low to medium flame, make a dark roux with the flour and butter, stirring almost constantly with a wooden spoon, cooking until golden brown. Add onions, stirring together until the roux darkens to a milk chocolate brown. be careful not to burn the roux. you will know immediately if this happens–it is very pungent. do not use if you burn, the whole soup will taste burned. start over and be patient–it is a learned skill! add celery and bell pepper and garlic and saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
add the gumbo crabs (if using), tomatoes, herbs and the shrimp stock. simmer 45 minutes or longer, adding water to thin if thickens up too much.
ten minutes before serving add shrimp and lump crab meat (if using) and green onions. taste to correct seasonings, adding salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce. ladle over steamed rice and top with fried okra and leeks.
and then there was cake…