1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 lbs. smoked sausage, small diced
2 lbs. frozen cut okra
2 cups onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. small mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/2 to 3/4 cups prepared roux (as needed)*
2 qts. chicken broth + 2 qts. water (as needed)
1 can tomato sauce, 16-oz.
6-8 skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and washed
2 Tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet
2 Tbsp. Frank Davis Complete Seafood Boil
3 Tbsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
1 tsp. ground thyme
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
5 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. salt (if needed)
1 Tbsp. coarse-ground black pepper
1 dozen crabs, raw and cleaned
3 lbs. whole shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. crawfish tails, pre-cooked
1/4 cup parsley, minced
6-8 cups long grain rice, cooked
Gumbo File for garnish
1 box saltine crackers

Experience has taught me over the years that a good gumbo always comes together best when you prepare everything in advance. For example, you should totally defrost the okra in the sink in a colander; clean, wash, and crack the crabs; have all the seasoning vegetables chopped and measured out; and cut up the sausage, butterfly the shrimp, and prep the chicken long before you ever put a skillet on the stove top. Doing this before you begin cooking will keep you from rushing around the kitchen while you're building your gumbo.

So okay, assuming you got everything ready to go, the first thing you want to do is select the right size pot. It should be nothing less than 10 quarts in capacity. A big spaghetti cooker or a canner is ideal for gumbos because they give you room to stir ingredients without crowding them.
One more thing. Procedure here is important. So to get quality, be sure not to skip or short-cut any of the steps.

First off, put the pot on a high fire, add the quarter cup of cooking oil, and toss in the smoked sausage. Fry this really well-it's the base for browning the okra.

Next, without removing the sausage add all of the okra and fry it well too. Plan on this taking you about 20 minutes-it's going to require about that long to cut the amount of 'rope' (slime) which will be secreted by the okra. But note: when you add the okra, reduce the heat to medium so that the vegetable doesn't burn. And keep stirring constantly!

When the okra is ready, add to the pot the onions, celery, garlic, mushrooms, parsley, and about half of the prepared roux.

Once they're totally combined in the mix, pour in the chicken broth along with one quart of water, the chicken thighs, and the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the mixture-stirring occasionally-for about 10 minutes.

At this point it's time to stir in the seafood boil, seafood seasoning, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper, and the bay leaves. Then once more thoroughly blend the ingredients, cover the pot, and simmer again for another 10 to 15 minutes.

At this point, add all the remaining ingredients except the parsley and the rice-the cracked crabs, the peeled shrimp, and the crawfish tails.

Then one more time, stir everything again; you want to create the perfect blend in the pot. Note that at this stage the gumbo liquid should be brownish in color with a reddish tinge, and the okra should be broken up and suspended in solution.

Now cover the pot and continue to simmer the gumbo on low heat for about 20 more minutes (you can stir in a little extra prepared roux any time you want to if you'd like the consistency to be thicker). During this period stir the liquid about 3 times to keep the contents uniformly mixed and re-adjust the salt and black pepper content to your taste.

When the gumbo is done, take the pot off the fire and set it aside but leave the cover on for 20 more minutes. This will allow the seasonings to blend fully-remember the gumbo won't taste like MawMaw's homemade stuff unless you let it set.

Finally, after it has cooled slightly, you can either toss the steamed rice into the pot and stir it all together or ladle the gumbo over separate bowls of steamed rice (which is my favorite way and the traditional way to do it).

I suggest you serve it piping hot alongside a plate of multi-grain saltine crackers. A little parsley and some file` sprinkled over the top makes a nice garnish.


Chef's Notes:

1-To make a prepared roux, whisk together over medium heat in a heavy skillet 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/3 cup all purpose flour and cook the mixture until it transforms to a silky smooth lustrous deep tan color. Prepared roux can be kept in the refrigerator for about two weeks or so.

2-Just like etouffee, jambalaya, and red beans and rice, gumbo is always better the next day. Of course, it's awfully hard to get folks to wait 24 hours to eat when you got something this good!

3-If you'd prefer to use canned okra instead of frozen okra, it's okay. Just substitute 3 cans of drained okra for the 2 pounds of frozen counterpart.

4-To clean the crabs, remove the top shell, cut out the eyes and mouth, scrape away the gills, brush away the innards , and cut off the back flap. Then wash the crabs thoroughly under cold running water. They're ready at this point to be dropped into the gumbo. Note: you can either leave the legs on or snip them off-the choice is up to you.

5-Oh, and you want to be careful not to make the gumbo too watery at the outset, because you got to remember that once you add the shrimp and the crawfish the moisture rendered from the seafood will thin out the base.

6-If you can't find my seasonings where you shop, you can get them by clicking on the Frank Davis icon on this website