Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

With the cold winter weather here and Mardi Gras looming, I thought it was time to share this wonderful shrimp and andouille gumbo.  I first saw it in my January 2009 copy of Bon Appétit accompanied by glowing reviews—but, as is often the case, it languished in a pile until a year ago.  When I mentioned to Roger that I wanted to make it but hadn’t found the time, he volunteered his services.  Worried about looking a gift horse in the mouth, I still found it necessary to ask him, “Do you even know what a roux is?”  He didn’t, of course, but I must say he is one fast learner!

A roux, for the uninitiated, is a cooked mixture of flour and fat which will thicken and flavor a soup, stew, or gravy.  The longer you cook the roux, the darker and more flavorful it will become making the dish you are cooking quite delicious.  I gave Roger a quick tutorial on how to make a roux (don’t let the flour burn—stir, stir, stir!!).

Later that week when we had all the ingredients to make the gumbo, I went off to work wondering what I’d find in (as Roger refers to it) America’s Testicle Kitchen when I got home.  To my delight, I found him stirring a big pot of the most delicious gumbo I’ve ever eaten.  It was absolutely frantastic!  The savory roux-flavored broth is worthy of bowl-licking, and someone in the family may have done just that a time or two (or maybe even every time).  The gumbo immediately went into the winter rotation, and we have enjoyed it many times in the last year.  And Roger has made it every single time—woo hoo!

My definition of a gold standard recipe is when I am not interested in looking at any other recipe for that particular dish or dessert.  This gumbo more than met that criteria, so I archived all the other gumbo recipes in my files..…and started looking at jambalaya recipes.  But that is a story for another day!

Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, minced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large or 2 small green bell pepper, minced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 ribs celery, minced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 64 oz. chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into halves or thirds
  • 1/2 to 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cut okra
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups rice, cooked according to directions (plan on 1/2 cup cooked rice for each serving. Use rice of choice but white seems to go best.)

Accompaniments:

  • Hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Filé powder (to be added to individual bowls—not to the pot!)

Directions by Roger

Prepare the Roux

Heat olive oil in an 8-quart heavy stock pot.  When oil is hot, reduce heat to moderately low and whisk in flour.  Cook, stirring frequently with wooden spoon or spatula, until mixture becomes dark brown and has an intensely nutty aroma, about 25 to 30 minutes.

During the time that the roux is cooking, I mince the onion, green pepper and celery, ready the cans of stock, cut up the sausage and okra (if using fresh), and start on the shrimp.  I set each ingredient aside in its own bowl.  Note:  It is important to stir the roux frequently while cutting the veggies.

The following sequence of photos shows the process of making the roux over medium heat:

  • Photo below shows roux when flour is added to oil.

  • Second photo is when oil flour mix starts to bubble, at which point you must constantly stir with no more than one minute between stirs.  You will notice the roux thickening on the bottom.  Keep stirring and blending in this thickened roux.  As time goes on, you will have to attend to the roux constantly.

  • The third photo is what roux looks like after 20-30 minutes.

  • The fourth photo is when roux is darkened and thickened, and ready for the vegetables.

Stir in onion, pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften, about 2 minutes.

Roux with vegetables mixed in

Gradually whisk in stock.  Raise heat to moderate and bring to simmer, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

During this time, I prepare or finish preparing the shrimp.  Of course, if you want to make your life easier, purchase already prepared (shelled, deveined, and cooked) shrimp, and all you have to do is remove the tail!  I prefer raw jumbo shrimp that have been deveined because the cooked shrimp is typically overcooked.  As a last measure, slice the shrimp into bite-sized pieces (halves or thirds).  Place in a bowl, cover, and set aside.

Add bay leaves, sausage, and okra and simmer, uncovered, until okra is barely tender, about 15 minutes.  Toss in (raw) shrimp and cook for another 5 minutes or so when the shrimp changes color.  Discard bay leaves and stir in salt, cayenne, and black pepper.

Okra is added - one step closer to gumbo!

Divide rice among 4 large bowls.  Ladle gumbo over, and serve with hot sauce and filé powder for sprinkling on top.

Source:  A January 2009 Bon Appétit recipe

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