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Spicy Seafood and Sausage Gumbo

Spicy Seafood and Sausage Gumbo
Indispensable to a good gumbo, okra are slender, ridged green seedpods with pointed ends. During cooking, the cut pods release a slimy substance that thickens the gumbo. Sautéing the okra before adding it to the other ingredients turns it a lovely golden brown and lessens its viscous quality. A dash of filé powder (ground sassafras leaves), traditional in gumbo, also acts as a thickener; it can be found in the spice section at many well-stocked markets.

Serve the gumbo with a scoop of white rice. Two cups uncooked rice will make enough for 6 servings. For extra heat and zest, pass hot-pepper sauce at the table.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 lb. okra
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
  • 5 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. Creole seasoning blend
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch
      slices
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup fresh-cooked crabmeat, picked over
      to remove any shell fragments
  • 1 tsp. filé powder
  • Cooked white rice for serving
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Dice the onion and the green and red bell peppers. Set aside. Trim the stems from the okra pods, then cut the pods crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick. In a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the canola oil. Add the okra and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot over medium heat, warm the remaining 6 Tbs. oil for 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour until incorporated. Cook the mixture, or roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until dark brown, about 4 minutes. Do not let the roux turn black. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the reserved okra, the tomatoes with their juices, stock, bay leaves, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

Stir in the sausage, shrimp and crabmeat and cook until the sausage is heated through and the shrimp are pink, 3 minutes more. Sprinkle in the filé powder and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves.

To serve, spoon white rice into warmed bowls, ladle the gumbo on top and garnish with the parsley.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Simon & Schuster, 2001).