Some version of gumbo is always on the menu at any given restaurant in New Orleans. This classic seafood version, which is chock-full chicken, Jonah crab claws and vegetables swimming in a broth richly flavored, is always a hit with a crowd. You can also make it the centerpiece of a Mardi Gras meal.
Yields: 3 quarts, 8 to 10 servings
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 to 5 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
6 cups fish stock
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 chicken drumsticks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon file pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound catfish, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons dry Creole seasoning*
1 dozen Jonah crab legs
1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over
1 10-ounce package of frozen okra
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped tender green onion tops
White Rice, for serving
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil allowing it to heat for about 5 minutes until it begins to shimmer, then add the flour to the skillet. With a wooden spoon, stir the oil and flour together to form a roux. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to stir the roux for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the color of dark chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the the stock to the pot.
Heat an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, add the roux to the pot and season with with the thyme, bay leaves, salt,pepper, and file powder. Add the chicken stock. Add the chicken. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.
Season the catfish with creole seasoning. Stir in the crab legs and the catfish into the gumbo and cook for 10 minutes. Add the okra to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and chicken bones and discard.
To serve, garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
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