There are certain things I miss about living in Texas. I miss the Texas peaches, and I miss the gulf shrimp. I miss the Mexican food and the abundance of cheap, authentic taquerias. I missed the Texas barbeque so bad that I had to get a smoker of my very own and learn to make it myself. And I miss being a stone’s throw away from Louisiana.
Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo with Okra
2 pounds small shrimp (41/50 count)
2 cups canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 yellow onions, diced
3 green bell peppers, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
8 to 10 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 quarts chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
3 pounds andouille, sliced
1 1-pound bag frozen cut okra, thawed
Cooked long grain white rice, for serving
Sliced green onions, for serving
Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. Combine the shrimp shells and 3 quarts of water in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until flavorful. Let cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Combine the oil and flour in a very large, heavy pot. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, for 14 to 16 minutes, or until chocolate brown.
Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, paprika, pepper, white pepper, and cayenne. Stir in the shrimp broth and chicken broth and add the tomatoes, andouille, and shrimp. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour, or until the flavors come together. Add the okra and simmer another 14 to 16 minutes, or until the okra is tender. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and skim off any fat from the surface of the gumbo. Season to taste with salt. To serve, spoon some of the rice into the center of each bowl, ladle the gumbo over the rice, and sprinkle with the green onions.
Serves an army of about 20 as a main course. The mixture of oil and flour, known as roux, thickens the gumbo. When cooked to a dark chocolate-brown color, it also adds a deep, toasty flavor. Whisk the roux constantly to avoid scorching it, but be careful as you do because it will be very hot. You can use fresh okra if it’s in season, but sauté it briefly before adding it to the gumbo. Also try adding crawfish, crabmeat, or chicken. You will need a 10-quart or larger pot for this recipe. The recipe may be cut in half, but if you’re going to the effort of making gumbo, why not make a big batch? Like all soups and stews, it actually tastes better the day after it’s made, and it freezes beautifully.