There was no way I was going to move to Louisiana and not learn a thing or two about Cajun cooking! There is constant inspiration everywhere. Our farmers’ market downtown has a boudin ball stand, crawfish restaurants are selling out when in season, and you can find a place that sells shrimp etouffee, jambalaya, and delicious soft shell crab po’boys on every corner. Did I mention that I was miserable here?
There’s something to be said about the pride Louisianians take in their state. It’s the home of jazz and blues. Early in the year, masks and gold, green, and purple streamers hang from balconies to indicate that Mardi Gras has arrived. In New Orleans, you’re bound to run into some sort of festival if you’re ever in the French Quarter. And the food is just as much at the heart of this state than anything else. So much of life here is centered around the deep southern comfort Creole cooking that you just can’t find anywhere else.
And that led me to this gumbo recipe. Gumbo is a stew that is served over a bed of white rice. It begins with a roux, and then what Louisianians call the “holy trinity” – onion, bell pepper, and celery – are added. Toss in a combination of shrimp, sausage, chicken, crab, or duck and you’re good to go. There’s lots of simmering and there’s lots of seasoning and then there’s a lot of “mmmm-ing.”
This recipe contains chicken, Andouille sausage, and shrimp. Instead of water, I strained the liquid from boiled shrimp shells and used the stock to give it a little more flavor. And while the roux may be time consuming, it’s really what makes this dish so great. This is one of those dishes that tastes even better after a few days, so I like to prepare this a day or two in advance if I have people over. Serve over rice, with cornbread or a toasty french roll on the side. Enjoy!
- 3/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tbsp, divided
- 2-3 lbs chicken, cooked and shredded
- 2 lbs shrimp
- 1 lb Andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
- 3/4 cups flour
- 2 cups onion, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cayenne
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp Creole seasoning
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups shrimp or low sodium chicken stock
- Plain white rice, cooked, for serving
- 1/2 cup green onions, for garnish (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups shrimp shells (from 2 lbs of shrimp)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2-3 parsley sprigs
- 8 cups water
- 1-2 bay leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat, then add shrimp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let cook on both sides until opaque through the middle, about 3-4 minutes. Cool completely and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- In the same pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat, add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Over medium heat, in the same pot, combine the 3/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 cup flour and stir constantly, until brown and fragrant. (This could take anywhere between 20-25 minutes, so be patient and watch to make sure it doesn't burn.) Add onion, celery, and bell peppers and sautée for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, sausage, salt, bay leaf, and dry seasonings, and cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce temperature to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. In the last 30 minutes of simmering, add the chicken. In the last 10 minutes, add the shrimp. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
- Remove the bay leaf. Ladle over a bed of cooked white rice. Garnish with green onions, if desired.
- In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and sautée for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until shells are pink. Add the carrots, onions, celery, and herbs, and stir for an additional 6-7 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sautée for an additional minute. Pour in water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 45-1 hour.
- Strain stock and cool completely. Use immediately, refrigerate, or freeze.
- Wait until you are nearly done simmering the gumbo before adding salt and pepper, to taste. The flavor will develop the longer you simmer.
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