Gumbo! A Break from Holiday Overload

I thought I would be writing this post weeks ago, but our house has been SICK. Head cold, viruses, upset stomach, put us out of our misery sick. Bah Humbug. The weather in Texas has been warm, then rainy, then cold and dreary. Bah. The small attempts I have made to rejoin society have been through hurricane kit craft stores and bustling grocery aisles. Bah.

The school week is winding down, the kids’ excitement is growing, and Christmas is around the corner. Time for a little break from holiday overload. This afternoon, Baby Girl took a long nap, the boys started a Mario Bros marathon, and I caught up on Hallmark’s 2014 Holiday Movies. What a delightfully cheesy way to catch a little Christmas joy. A Royal Christmas and Christmas Underwraps (LOVE Candace Cameron Bure) did not disappoint: sweet, predictable, and made me smile. It was up and at them for some food love – Gumbo. I have used a version of this recipe I originally tore out year’s ago from Cook’s Illustrated by America’s Test Kitchen, and those guys know their stuff. I have added chicken thigh meat over the years, but tonight we had a little duck thrown in.

Cajun Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo
Serves 4-6
Gather:
1/2 # gulf shrimp, shells removed and reserved, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup clam juice (on the canned food aisle, usually by tuna)
1 1/4 cups ice water
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 onion, fine dice
1 stalk celery, fine dice
1/2 green bell pepper, fine dice
1/2 red bell pepper, fine dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 ounces frozen okra, thawed
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme leaves
salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound smoked Andouille sausage
1/4 cup parsley leaves, minced
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts
black pepper
white rice

To Make:
Bring the reserved shrimp shells and vegetable stock to a boil, over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock, add ice water and clam juice. Add additional vegetable stock until you have 1 quart. Discard shells, and set aside.
Heat oil in a dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and gradually stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, making sure to work out any lumps that may form. Continue stirring constantly for about 20 minutes until the roux has a toasty aroma and is deep reddish brown. Don’t try to rush it. The roux will thin as it cooks, and if it begins to smoke, remove from heat and stir so it cools slightly.
Add onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, okra, thyme, salt and cayenne to the roux and cook, until the vegetables soften. Attend to them, stirring frequently. This should take 10-15 minutes. Add the stock, while stirring continuously. Increase the heat to high, and skim any foam that rises to the surface. Add the bay leaf, and simmer, uncovered (keep skimming foam) for 30 minutes.
Add in sausage, and continue simmering another 30 minutes. Start the rice. Stir in the shrimp and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add in the parsley, scallions, and season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Spoon over rice.
Now there’s time for more Christmas movies. I’m thinking on to the classics – White Christmas and maybe A Christmas Carol.

“God Bless Us, Every One!”

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