Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Putting the Fun in Gumbo

Last night's Mardi Gras meant it only seemed appropriate to turn to New Orleans for menu inspiration (and a cocktail, of course, in this case the delightfully layered Vieux Carre), and after a bunch of internet and cookbook searching for some sort of gumbo that didn't lay on the links too much (sausage sausage everywhere, and not a gumbo for pescatarians to drink!), we found this Shrimp and Collard Greens Gumbo. So, yes, this isn't my recipe, but we did some tweaking and have some warnings, so I'm going to run through it our way for you to enjoy the next time you want a big bowl of slowly simmering Louisiana heat. Plus one more excuse to eat collards, not that you should need one.

4 TBS. safflower oil
2 TBS. flour
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 medium sized green bell pepper, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 pound frozen cut okra
2 bunches collards, washed, stemmed, torn into bite-sized bits
5 cups shrimp or seafood stock (we used Kitchen Basics seafood stock and it was perfectly fine)
1 14.5 oz can whole tomato, undrained
3 cloves garlic, crushed (these will fall apart more in the soup and be delicious)
1 bay leaf
2 robust tsp. Creole seasoning blend (of your choice)
1/2 TBS. hot sauce ( we used Caribbean Chile Habanero)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, 72-90 count best size

In large skillet make a medium roux of 2 TBS of oil and the flour. Stir constantly over medium high heat till the mixture gives off a rich smell and is peanut butter colored--at least 10 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, and celery and cook till the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In soup pot cook okra over medium heat in remaining 2 TBS of oil for about 10 minutes or until soft and a bit gooey (that gooey will add to the dish's consistency). Add the collards and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering, and cook for 15 minutes. Add roux-vegetable mixture, tomatoes, garlic, red pepper sauce, bay leaf, Creole seasoning, salt (start lightly as boxed stock can be sodium-full), and pepper. Stir to combine and break up the tomato a bit. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Add shrimp, cover, and cook slowly for no more than 10 minutes--keep checking on how much those shrimp have pinked up and tightened their little circles.

This goes well with a mixed greens salad and some crusty bread, maybe even a crusty-garlicky-cheesy bread, would be great.

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