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Why Gumbo is perfect.

It snowed again here in South Central PA and it's got me thinking about warm food from the summer, and one of my favorite dishes is a well prepared Gumbo

Gumbo originated in Southern Lousiana in the early 1700s and is thought (according the historians of Wikipedia) to be "a reinterpretation of traditional African cooking. West Africans used the vegetable okra as a base for many dishes, including soups, often pairing okra with meat and shrimp, with salt and pepper as seasonings. In Louisiana, the dish was modified to include ingredients introduced by other cultural groups.[13] Surviving records indicate that by 1764, African slaves in New Orleans mixed cooked okra with rice to make a meal."

The base of the Gumbo consists of the holy trinity of Cajun cooking: onions, bell peppers, and celery. There are also three distinct variations of gumbo all derived from what type of thickener you used: okra, dried and ground sassafras leaves (aka as file spice, a Choctaw staple), or the French roux, which is flour and fat mixed together. 

According to each cultural region within Louisiana, and the South in general, there are different rules to how you make your gumbo and what you include. I, following the American way, say More is better. That means mixing meat and shellfish, and every possible vegetable I can find. This is why it is a great dish for high summer and easily filled when you stop by your local farmers' market to see us. Yet another benefit to gumbo is that the recipe can be easily adjusted to accomodate more guests in a pinch, and most recipes are meant for 20 or more servings. This particular recipe comes to you from Alton Brown of the food network and it serves 6 people.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds raw, whole, head-on medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and browned
  • 1 tablespoon file powder
Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.

While the roux is baking, de-head, peel and devein the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set in the refrigerator. Place the heads and shells in a 4-quart saucepan along with the 2 quarts of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced to 1-quart. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.

Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the shrimp broth while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the shrimp and sausage and stir to combine. Add the file powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice.
 
A second recipe uses okra (of which we grow 2 varieties!) as the thickener as opposed to the roux or flie powder. Bobby Flay, also of the food network provides us with this gem, "Shellfish and Andouille Gumbo with Shrimp, Scallops, Clams and Oysters with Crispy Okra." His recipe also yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into thin rounds
  • 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 to 8 cups Shrimp Stock, recipe follows
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Seafood:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 12 scallops
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails on
  • 18 shucked oysters
  • 6 ounces lump crabmeat

Crispy Okra:

  • Canola oil
  • 1/2 pound okra, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

For the gumbo base:

Directions

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add the andouille and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Do not drain. In the same pan, cook the celery, carrots, onion, bell pepper and garlic until soft.

 

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Gradually add the flour, stirring occasionally. Cook the mixture (roux) until it's a light-caramel color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes, without stirring.

 

Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk in about 6 cups of the stock into the roux mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, add the andouille sausage and continue simmering for about 20 minutes, add more stock if the mixture is too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the seafood:

Heat 2 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan, over high heat until almost smoking. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and sear the scallops, on one side, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside on a plate.

 

Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Heat over medium-high until almost smoking. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and cook until just pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside with the scallops.

 

Add the scallops, shrimp, oysters and crab to the sauce and continue cooking until oysters are plump and cooked.

For the Crispy Okra:

Heat 2-inches of canola oil in a high sided saute pan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

 

Place the cornmeal in a shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

 

Season the okra with salt and pepper and toss in the cornmeal. Fry the okra, in batches, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to the baking sheet and season with salt.

 

Divide the seafood among 4 shallow bowls, ladle in some of the sauce and sausage and add the honey and garnish with the fried okra and chopped parsley and cilantro.

Shrimp Stock:

  • 3 cups raw shrimp shells and tails
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium celery stalk
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 medium fresh tomato, or 1/2 cup canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

In a large saucepan over high heat, heat the oil until amost smoking and saute the shrimp shells and tails, onion, carrot and celery for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the water, wine, tomato and bay leaf. Reduce to medium, partly cover, and simmer 40 minutes.

 

Strain though cheesecloth or a fine strainer.

 

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes
Remember, if you have any question about when our growing season starts, visit this link on our website or ask a market staff member!
 
Cheers,
Alana

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