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Gumbo
Debuting in the late 18th century, this savory Creole stew is a melting pot of French, Spanish and African flavors. Its name derives from gambo (a Bantu word for "okra"), the ingredient traditionally used to thicken the dish. Although every Louisiana cook swears by a signature version, gumbos are united by the use of a rich, dark roux, and nearly all include fresh Gulf Coast shrimp or crayfish. Other than that, almost anything can go into the cooking pot.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. andouille sausage, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 lb. smoked sausage, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 lb. boneless veal stew meat, cut in bite-size
      pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. okra, trimmed and cut into 1/8-inch rounds
  • 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut
      into bite-size cubes and seared until golden
      brown
  • 1/2 lb. smoked ham, cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. ground dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 lb. lump crabmeat
  • 1 lb. shrimp, head-on, or peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbs. filé powder
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Steamed white rice for serving
  • Hot sauce for serving

Directions:

Put the andouille and smoked sausages and the veal in a large Dutch oven. Set over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. oil. Add the okra and sauté for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Wash and dry the pan.

To make the roux, in the same sauté pan over medium heat, warm the 1/2 cup oil. Add the flour and stir to incorporate. Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until the roux turns the color of melted milk chocolate, 20 to 22 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions wilt, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion mixture to the meat mixture in the Dutch oven, then add the okra. Slowly add the water, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, ham, garlic, paprika, parsley and thyme. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Add the crabmeat and shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the filé powder, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well.

Spoon steamed rice into soup bowls and ladle the gumbo over the rice. Serve hot sauce alongside. If serving the shrimp with the heads on, be sure to remove the heads and shells before eating. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from a recipe by Leah Chase, Chef/Owner, Dooky Chase's Restaurant, New Orleans.