Gumbo recipe: Not-so-fat Tuesday

A few weeks ago I about drove Mr. Nake-id round the bend searching for frozen okra. Sunflower didn't have it. Neither did Safeway. It was only after we ventured to the Mexican grocery that we found our prize along with nopales (saving for another post) and gamba sans cabezas. (There were also gamba con cabezas but shelling and deveining seemed like enough of a project.)

Gumbo isn't everybody's cuppa. What with okra's mucilaginous properties, the texture of this Cajun classic, frankly, oogs some people out. But the slime is what makes it, thickening the stew into this rich, rice-clinging porridge punctuated with sausage, shrimp and that sturdy okra.

Paula Deen's recipe seemed like a good place to start, but being a health-conscious Yank, I fooled with it. Out went the margarine and the pork sausage and white rice, in came the olive oil and hot chicken links and brown rice. I reduced the overall amount of fat by making un petit roux, whisking maybe 3 Tbs of olive oil and one Tbs butter with flour to make the caramel-colored starter, and Mitch grilled the sausage to release some of the drippings before we added them into the pot. Plus, there was no stinting on the Tabasco. 

  • 1 pound hot Italian chicken sausage, grilled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups water
  • beef bouillon to taste (about 4-5 tsp of Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
  • 1 (14-ounce can) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 bag frozen sliced okra
  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
  • 1 pound pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Tobasco
  • Gumbo file
  • Salt and pepper
  • Directions: Make a roux with 2 Tbs olive oil and the butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it achieves a nice caramel color. Add your holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper and last Tbs of olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, parsley, water, bouillon and sausage. Simmer for as long as you can possibly wait. Add tomatoes and okra. And continue simmering, if you can stand it. Add shrimp at the last and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Douse with Tobasco. Serve over brown rice with chopped green onion and gumbo file.

    There are those who would accuse us of ruining this dish by imposing our uptight sensibilities on it. But the gumbo didn't seem to suffer and neither did we. 

    Laissez les bon temp rouler! 


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