No, you're not dreaming that really is Shrimp Gumbo and a good one by John Besh, too. Why? 'Cause I'm a Daring Cook, baby! (Sorry, I got carried away).
This month's challenge was Cajun Gumbo and since it's one of my husband's favorite dishes, I jumped at the chance to learn how to make it. In fact, he may have developed a little crush on Denise from There's a Newf in My Soup, the hostess of this month's Daring Cooks Challenge.
I thought long and hard about making this month's Daring Cooks Challenge into a Southwest Gumbo. Like John Besh says, gumbo should be a reflection of yourself. But, when it came right down to it... I chickened out. Besides, it's finals week with projects due and evaluation time for my "other" job so I really didn't have time for mistakes. When I do give a recipe a Southwest twist, I like to take the time to really get it right before I recommend it to you. So, I chose the recipe that I knew would have great results, Seafood Gumbo from John Besh's B-E-A-U-tiful new book, My New Orleans: The Cookbook.
I did not include my usual "step by step" photos because it would be impossible to do a better job than Denise. So, please visit There's a Newf in My Soup for a gorgeous tutorial on gumbo.
Our May hostess, Denise of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring
Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need from creole spices,
homemade stock and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and
Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.
Sandy's Tips for Making Gumbo
I do have a few tips to share:
1. Remember, the darker the roux, the more roux you will need. So, make extra. No one tells you this, but trust me. I learned the hard way while making brown sauce to serve while cooking on the line at the Culinary Cafe.
2. If you are taking a short cut and using purchased stock, start with vegetable stock and add the shrimp and seafood shells along with some water. The veggie stock will give you a "cleaner" taste than chicken stock (learned that from one of my mentors, Chef Mark Tarbell). The water is so that you can simmer the stock to get flavor from the shells without over reducing the stock. And, of course, use low sodium stock.
3. Filé powder has a very unique flavor and is considered an acquired taste. Not all gumbos use it. So, if you haven't tasted it before, don't put it directly into the gumbo. Serve it on the side for everyone to decide for themselves how much to use.
4. Please don't cook the vegetables to death. Remember that the vegetables will continue to cook as long as the gumbo is hot. Try dicing and sauteing extra and reserving some to add at the end.
Here is the recipe Denise provided for the challenge. Please visit There's a Newf in My Soup for John Besh's recipes for Chicken and Shrimp stocks if you plan to make your own stock.
6. Add the blue crabs and smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, garlic, and okra. Increase the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
9. Add the shrimp, oysters, crabmeat and green onions to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Make sure everything is ready to serve before adding the shellfish to the gumbo. DO NOT OVERCOOK your shellfish.
10. Season with salt and pepper, Creole Spices, Worcestershire, and Tabasco.11. Serve in bowls over rice.
From My New Orleans: The Cookbook
Makes ½ cup