Feb 9, 2010

shrimp and okra gumbo

my eleven year old calls this "game-changing gumbo." as the legend goes, on sunday night, i served this after the first quarter of the american football superbowl. at the time we gathered for supper, his team was down 10-3. (incidentally my kids loved this gumbo even though they both profess to hate shrimp, and one even hates okra. this was the first miracle of the night). well everything changed after this gumbo. what do you know, drew brees and the saints soon pulled ahead and won it 31-17, their first-ever victory or even participation in this championship. the second miracle of the night.

so maybe this gumbo will change the outcome of something in your life in some positive way. and my son sure is happy. he recommended i post this recipe and make special note of it's game-changing ability. so here you are:

shrimp and okra game changing gumbo
as the saying goes, first you make a roux.
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup mixture of butter and olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb okra, sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

1 lb fresh shrimp
i used the wonderful sweet, fresh maine shrimp that are in season right this very minute, but other types will do well

generously salt and pepper to taste. start a teaspoon at a time if you aren't sure what you want.
1 teaspoon tabasco sauce or your favorite hot sauce, more or less, to taste.

chopped scallions
chopped parsley
tabasco or hot sauce at the table for anyone who likes more heat.

for your roux, stir constantly over medium heat for 14-20 minutes or so to form this delicious base of most cajun stews. thickens and flavors it wonderfully. i burned the first batch. i took my eyes off it for only 2 seconds i swear. but no matter. easy enough to wipe clean and start again in a giant skillet. 1/4 cup flour to 1/4 butter (or oil or lard, if you prefer). stir it constantly until it turns some nice color of brown, some say chocolate, some say pecan, i like it a bit lighter more in the pecan range than chocolate or walnut. if it starts to smoke and or black specks appear, it is burned and you need to start over. also start the steamed long grain rice now, for it comes together pretty quick.

when your roux is a nice shade of brownishness, add in the chopped onion, celery and garlic. stir around for and cook for 5 minutes or so on medium, if it seems way to dry, you can add in a little olive oil or butter or stock to help it along.

after 5 minutes. add in the stock. fish stock if you've got it. i didn't, so used chicken stock. add in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. add in the okra and peppers now. chop your scallions and peel your shrimp, if need be.

when the okra is finally tender (5-15 minutes, depending on how small and fresh your okra is) add in your shrimp, tabasco and scallions. simmer for about 3 minutes. taste to correct seasonings. serve over a generous helping of steamed long grain rice. onward to victory.

traditionally gumbo contains chicken and andouille sausage as well. i was not interested in that this time. you can find shrimp and okra gumbo once in a while down south, so it is not an entirely new idea. (are there any new ideas in cooking?)

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