Hurricane Gumbo

The “proper” way to make gumbo is hotly contested. Cooks swear by their own recipes and whether it’s most authentic to use shrimp, crabs, chicken, pork or sausage. This version takes off from several classic recipes. We served it once with fresh biscuits, the next time over rice

For roux:

1 cup butter

1 cup flour

For gumbo:2 cups onion, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely chopped

1 ½ cup green pepper, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup scallions, chopped

2 cups tomatoes, chopped

4 cups shrimp stock (recipe follows) or chicken stock

1 cup water

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoons marjoram

1 pound Andouille sausage or smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch chunks

1 pound fresh okra, or 10-ounce bag frozen

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and stir continuously until the mixture achieves a deep-brown color and has a nutty aroma. (This roux is the basis of gumbo and helps add depth of flavor while it also thickens. How dark the roux should be is a matter of preference. Some cooks like their roux to be golden brown, while others go for a deep chestnut color.)

Add onion, celery, green pepper, garlic and scallions.  Keep stirring 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock and water. Add bay leaves, marjoram, okra and sausage. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.  (Gumbo should thicken to the consistency of a thin stew.) About ten minutes before serving, stir in shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 8-10 (and freezes well)

Shrimp Stock

Prepared chicken or seafood stock can be substituted, but a quick stock made while other ingredients are being prepped adds a fresh dimension to the gumbo.

Shells from 1 pound shrimp

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

5-6 whole peppercorns

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and skim any foam off the surface. Simmer 20-30 minutes. Strain liquid into large bowl and set aside.