photo by Lynne CalamiaThis Cajun-style gumbo is packed with flavor from homemade shrimp stock, filé powder, and plenty of juicy shrimp and sausage. Gumbo is little more than a roux-thickened stew with rice, and yet to call it nothing more than a roux-thickened stew with rice is to utter culinary blasphemy. Gumbo is one of the most solidly "American" dishes there is, in that is represents at least half a dozen cultures — including the French, who supplied the roux; the Choctaw, who invented filé powder; and Africans, who contributed okra and rice (via Madagascar). The Caribbeans brought several herbs and spices to the party, and the English...okay, not much England in this one, which is just fine with me. This recipe first appeared in Season 10 of Good Eats.
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 4 ounces vegetable oil
- 4 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 pounds (31- to 50-count) medium shrimp, raw, whole, head-on
- 2 quarts water
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup diced green peppers
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and browned
- 1 tablespoon filé powder
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Put the oil and flour into a 5- to 6-quart cast-iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.
While the roux is baking, de-head, peel, and devein the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set in the refrigerator. Place the heads and shells in a 4-quart saucepan along with the water, set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has reduced to 1 quart, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.
Once the roux is done (it will be a brick red-brown), carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers, and garlic, and cook, moving constantly until the onions begin to turn translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Gradually add the shrimp broth while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook for 35 minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the shrimp and sausage, and stir to combine. Add the filé powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice.