Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shrimp Gumbo

This recipe is for a quick gumbo thickened with okra and filé powder rather than a roux. I hope this doesn't cause anyone to gasp like my mother did when I told her I didn't want the extra calories from the roux. My great, great grandmother is probably turning in her grave that I have chosen not to use a roux - the French contribution to this famous dish.

Her parents came over from France to live in Louisiana in the 1800s. This particular bit of culinary heritage was the predominate influence at my maternal grandparents' table. My mother does admit that my grandparents thickened their gumbo with all three of the classic thickeners: roux, okra and ground sassafras leaves (filé powder).

I have used Trader Joe's precooked chicken sausages in this pot but any spicy or garlicky sausage will work fine. I found the filé powder and frozen okra at Walmart in upstate New York. The powder can normally be found on Walmart's "ethnic" aisle. The shelves are stocked with ingredients for cooking TexMex, Chinese and Louisiana cuisine mostly, but Walmart is my first stop for "Southern" groceries up North.   

2 (6 ounces/182 grams) smoked Andouille chicken sausages, sliced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 (red, green or yellow) bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups frozen sliced okra
1 (26 ounces/500 grams) box of chopped tomatoes
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
14 ounces/397 grams raw shrimp, shell removed and deveined
Gumbo filé powder (to be sprinkled after cooking)

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the sausage slices for about 2-3 minutes. I like them charred slightly, but the sausages will stick a bit as there is no oil used. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Add a splash of the chicken broth and sauté for 5 minutes, scrapping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Add the okra, tomatoes, chicken broth and spices except the filé. Stir the mixture, cover and bring the pot to a boil. Add the shrimp; cook for 3 minutes or until pink and cooked through. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle a bit of the filé over the gumbo; stir to combine. Serve with steamed brown rice.

Serves 6

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