This gumbo uses a very small amount of roux, so that it remains light.
You may omit the okra if you like, and thicken the gumbo with filé powder
instead -- it'll still be good, but will have a quite different flavor.
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 medium onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tomatoes (or 8 Roma tomatoes), seeded and diced (if you like tomatoes
in your gumbo)
1 cup tomato purée (see above)
2 pounds okra, chopped
4 quarts shrimp stock, crab stock or fish stock (NO imatations)
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning blend
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 dozen oysters, freshly shucked, liquor reserved
4 blue crabs, cleaned (optional)
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 tablespoon filé powder (if okra isn't used)
8 cups cooked long-grain white rice
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and add the flour. Stir constantly
until a light brown roux is formed, then add the onions, bell pepper,
celery and garlic. Sauté until the onions become translucent
and the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée,
if you wish, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. (I know I sound
like a broken record, but I'm not one of those people who likes tomatoes
in my gumbo, but lots of people do. Your mileage may vary.)
Add the seasonings, and about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper,
and continue to cook another 10 minutes. Add the okra, and cook for
another 10 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce
heat to simmer and cook another 30 minutes.
(If you wish a more rustic gumbo, you may add whole
blue crabs. Remove the hard top shell from the crabs (reserving for
stuffed crabs or for shellfish stock), and break each crab in two down
the middle. Remove the claws. Add to the stock.) With the gumbo on very
low heat, add the shrimp 10 minutes before serving, the oysters and
oyster liquor 5 minutes before serving, and the crabmeat just before
serving (don't cook the crabmeat, just stir until it is heated through).
Taste and correct seasonings.
If you don't like okra, or if
you just prefer to make a filé gumbo, remove from heat and sprinkle the filé powder
on the surface of the gumbo, then cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Then uncover and stir to mix. Be careful if there are leftovers -- filé
doesn't reheat all that well, and you must be careful to reheat gently.
If the gumbo comes back to a boil after the filé has been added,
it will get stringy.
Place about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of rice in each bowl and
ladle the gumbo over and around it. Serve with plenty of french bread
and good beer or white wine.
YIELD: About 10-12 entrée
servings or 20-24 appetizer servings (omit hard shell crabs if serving
cups of gumbo as an appetizer).