Not having grown up in Cajun country, I never knew that seafood gumbo was a tradition in some homes on Christmas Eve. I had been reading how many grew up having this tradition and I thought it would be nice to try it on the family. So, last year I made it and everyone seemed to enjoy it, some a little too much, but that's another story. I thought I would include my seafood gumbo recipe in a post for the Christmas season. Make this as a soup course if you have a big planned Christmas dinner.
It might sound a little labor intensive, but once you get everything together and ready to go, it isn't really. The only thing is that you can't just dump it all in a pot to start with, and let it go. There is an order to the steps, but again it isn't difficult. OK, I "Photoshopped" the sprig of holly onto the bowl of gumbo in the pic. I do hope you'll give this recipe a shot.
1 cup oil (plus ¼ cup oil for okra)
1½ cup flour
3 cups onion (diced)
2 cups celery (diced)
1 cup green bell pepper (diced)
1 tbs garlic (minced)
4 tbs worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme (or ½ tsp dried)
½ tbs kosher salt
½ tbs black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 lbs package frozen, sliced okra (you can use fresh)
½ cup green onions (sliced thin)
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 lbs MED shrimp (shelled and de-veined, reserve the shells)
1 lbs crabmeat (use less expensive claw meat)
1 pint small oysters
1 gallon water (for stock)
Place the shrimp shells & heads, bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, along with any onion, garlic, or celery scraps, into a stockpot with the water, bring it to a boil, and then down to a simmer for 30 minutes, reducing it by a fourth. Skim and strain out the shells and scraps and set aside to keep warm. In another skillet, heat ¼ cup of oil and sauté okra until it is no longer sticky, about 20 minutes on MED. You can do this while simmering your stock.
In a MED/HI cast iron Dutch Oven, make a dark brown roux by combining the oil and flour, stirring constantly until is becomes the color of milk chocolate. When roux is done, add the onions and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the celery, green pepper, garlic, ½ of the green onions, and cook for 10 more minutes. Add all spices and worcestershire sauce. Add 2 cups of the warm shrimp stock, gradually combining it into the roux, add cooked okra, crabmeat, and remaining stock. Check your seasonings, and if OK, bring the heat up to a boil for 5 minutes, and then turn down to MED/LO and cook for 1 hour.
Add your shrimp, oysters, (with their liquid, or liquor) parsley, remaining green onions, and cook for another 15 minutes, check the seasonings, and serve with rice. You can offer hot sauce and filé powder at the table.
I like to add 1 lb sliced andouille, or smoked sausage, after the vegetables. Technically, most cajuns won't add meat to a seafood gumbo, although many tell me they do secretly. I also like to add a few gumbo crabs, broken up in there, when I add my stock. Lastly, I do like a cup or two of crushed tomatoes in MY gumbo, but I didn't want to start a fight.