3 pounds shrimp, peeled and chopped
1 dozen gumbo crabs, cleaned and halved
3-4 quarts shellfish stock, as needed
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped andouille sausage
2 cups coarsely diced onions
1 cup coarsely diced celery
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
1 pound cut frozen okra
2 whole bay leaves
2 tablespoon thyme
2 tablespoon sweet basil
1 cup small-dice Creole tomatoes
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Seafood seasoning to taste
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 pound claw crabmeat
Garlic hot sauce to taste
6 cups cooked long-grain rice
In a large 8-quart, porcelain-lined Dutch oven (or a deep gumbo stock pot) heat the oil over medium-high heat and whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until a deep, dark, Cajun roux forms.
Then stir in the andouille sausage, onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until the veggies are soft and wilted.
At this point, begin adding in the stock (one ladle-full at a time) until a soup-like consistency is achieved.
Now bring the soup to a rolling boil, still whisking constantly.
Next, reduce the heat until the soup just simmers and stir in the bay leaves, thyme, basil, tomatoes, okra, and the gumbo crabs.
Season the mixture with the salt, black pepper, and seafood seasoning.
Then put the lid on the pot and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After the allotted time, add in about half of the shrimp and continue to cook the gumbo for 15 minutes or so.
Note: Don't be reluctant to add in more stock to maintain the desired consistency.
It's at this stage of the recipe that you remove the bay leaves and stir in the green onions and parsley and the remainder of the shrimp.
This is also the time when you should make the final adjustments to your seasonings, if necessary.
All that's left to do is gently fold in the crabmeat and finish cooking the gumbo for anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, or until the shrimp turn totally pink and curl up.
Then when you're ready to eat, place a big ol' scoop of hot rice into a soup bowl, ladle on a healthy portion of gumbo (including a couple pieces of crab halves), give the serving a good shot of garlic hot sauce, and top it off by sprinkling on a pinch or two of file.
A stack of buttered saltines and a glass of super-chilled ice tea on the side completes this Cajun meal.
Bon appetit, mes amis!
A good seafood stock can be made using the shells and heads from the shrimp and the top shells and legs from the crabs. Just simmer them slowly and gently in about a gallon of water for about 30 minutes then strain them out when you get ready to use the stock.
If you don't have homemade seafood stock, you can effectively substitute in its place canned or boxed chicken stock or bottled clam juice. Plain water, however, ranks a poor last for making any kind of gumbo.
The gumbo crabs should be broken down by removing the top shell, taking off the underside flap, and cutting off the legs (but leaving on the claws).
Then clean out the insides under cool running water and split the crab body into a right and left half. The halves go into the gumbo; the top shell, flap, and legs go into the making of the stock.
Leftover roux can be stored in a Mason jar, sealed tightly, and kept in the bottom of the refrigerator for up to a month.
If you'd like to add extra okra to your gumbo, go right ahead. Just add it at the point in the recipe when the 'initially called for' okra is added.