This is a close as I have been able to come to duplicating my grandmother’s gumbo. I watched her make it every summer in Pensacola. She would often add oysters to this basic crab gumbo. If you choose to use oysters add them to the gumbo during the last fifteen minutes of cooking.
The gumbo should be served in large bowls about one third filled with white rice and seasoned with at least a teaspoon of Zatarain’s file gumbo powder. Crisp French bread and butter and a good salad make for a full meal.
5 lbs of medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 lbs. of cleaned and halved blue crabs
4 cups of vegetable oil
4 cups of plain white flour
4 8oz. bottles of clan juice
1 14oz. cans of Swanson’s chicken broth
1 qt. of shrimp stock –See footnote 2
4 large sweet onions, Vidalia if available
1 bunch of celery
2 large green bell peppers
4 bunches of green onions
4 tbsp of minced fresh garlic
4 bags of frozen unbreaded chopped okra
3 tbsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp of ground black pepper
1 tbsp of ground white pepper
1 tbsp of cayenne red pepper
2 tbsp of dried & crumbled thyme
2 tbsp of dried & crumbled oregano
5 crumbled bay leaves
2 bottles of Zatarain’s file gumbo powder
2 packets of Goya vegetable & salad seasoning (dry in packets)
4 packets of Goya cilantro seasoning (dry in packets)
I package of shrimp boil
Zatarain’s Cajun Seasoning
PREPARE THE LIQUID
In a 12 quart pot place 26 Cups of water 1
Add 1 quart of shrimp stock2
Add 2 14oz.cans of Swanson’s chicken broth
Add 4 bottles of clam juice
Add 1 tbsp of shrimp boil
Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer and cover to prevent loss of liquid.
PREPARE THE VEGATABLES
In a large bowl place the following:
4 large sweet onions, Vidalia if available, chopped medium
1 Bunch of celery, chopped medium
2 large bell peppers, chopped small
4 Bunches of Green Onions, chopped medium
4 Tablespoons of minced garlic
Set aside in separate bowl
4 bags of frozen, unbreaded chopped okra
Hold for future use.
PREPARE THE SEASONINGS
In a small bowl mix the following:
3 tablespoons of kosher salt
1 tablespoons of Black Pepper
1 table spoons of White Pepper
1/2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper (Tread carefully here. Omit if you don’t like highly seasoned food. You can add Tabasco sauce later.)
2 tablespoons of dried thyme, crumbled
2 tablespoons of dried oregano, crumbled
8 Bay Leaves, crumbled
1 8oz. bottle of Zatarain’s file gumbo
REPARE THE CRABS
Wash and rinse 5 lbs of cleaned blue crabs.
Place 1 Cup of oil in a large skillet and bring to medium heat
Add cleaned crabs to the skillet and gently sauté until heated through out.
Sprinkle with Zatarain’s Cajun Seasoning while sautéing.
Place sautéed crabs in a bowl and set aside
Use the remaining oil as part of the oil for the roux
PREPARE THE ROUX
In a cold cast iron skillet:
4 cups of cold oil, including the oil reserved from sautéing the crabs
4 cups of plain white flour
Mix oil and flour in large bowl until mixture is smooth and thoroughly mixed then place the mixture in a large unheated iron skillet. Be sure the skillet is large enough in diameter to provide a large cooking surface and deep enough to allow stirring with out spilling over on the stove and still have room for the vegetables and seasonings later.
Turn heat on to medium and begin browning the roux. Mix the roux constantly as it slowly cooks. DO NOT OVER HEAT. A good roux requires patience and constant stirring. Stir with a wooden blade to be able to be sure and get the roux off the bottom of the skillet. The darker to roux, the richer the gumbo, so try to get it to the color of dark chocolate. If you burn the roux, toss it and start over. It takes guts to really get a dark roux without burning it. THIS IS THE HEART OF MAKING GUMBO.
When the roux reaches the desired color, lower the heat and add the retained vegetables, continuing to constantly stir. After enough vegetables have been added to stop the cooking of the roux, begin add the seasoning mixture to the roux and continue stirring constantly to prevent burning. The roux will turn almost black as you add the vegetables.
When seasoning has sautéed for 2 min., begin adding the roux to the liquid mixture which has been simmering. When all of the roux has been added allow liquid to cook for five minutes and then add the reserved crabs. Continue stirring the gumbo as it cooks to prevent solids from settling to the bottom of the pot and scorching.
Cook for an hour on simmer and season to taste. I always add four packets of Goya Cilantro flavored seasonings and I 8oz bottle of file gumbo at this point. This gives the gumbo a rich, deep flavor.3 Add additional file gumbo when serving. Add shrimp ten minutes before serving to prevent shrivel. BON APPETIT!
1 1 qt. = 4 cups = 48 oz.
2 Boil the heads from 5 lbs of junbo( 16-18 count) shrimp in 2 quarts of water. Reduce to 2 Quart.
3 To achieve the best flavor and texture you should not serve the gumbo on the day that it is made. You should cool it in the cooking pot by filling the kitchen sink with cold tap water and resting the pot in the filled sink. If the water in the sink gets as warm as the pot, refill the sink with cold water. Stir the gumbo occasionally while it is cooling to be sure there is no hot core that will cause it to spoil while in the refrigerator. When the gumbo is fully cooled, place it in the fridge over night, covered. The next day before you reheat the gumbo, skim off as much of the clear grease as you can. This can be done with a thin china cup and some degree of patience.