Seafood and Sausage Gumbo


3 pounds raw shrimp in shell [I used 3.5 pounds frozen, with only the end tail part on]
1 1/2 quarts water [I added 2 cups of seafood stock to this, see notes as to why]
4 onions, 2 of them quartered
4 bay leaves [I used three because I missed where it told me to use one in the recipe… oops]
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons margarine or butter [I used butter]
2 green bell peppers, seeded and minced [I used one red and one yellow one because they were about to go bad and I didn’t want to waste them]
4 celery stalks, minced
1 1/2 pounds Polish or andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices [I used Polish sausage but I have made gumbo before with the andouille sausage and liked it oodles more, it gives it a more Cajun flavor]
3 cups fresh okra, cut into 1/2 inch slices [I don’t have fresh okra here, the canned stuff is just gross in a gumbo, so I did not use it]
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves [I used dried]
2 teaspoons salt [I did not put this in]
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper [I used a 1/4 teaspoon]
1/2 white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce [I used green pepper sauce, yummy]
2 cups chopped, peeled fresh or canned plum tomatoes [I used canned diced]
1 pound fresh crab meat [I used to cans of diced crabmeat, about 4 ounces.  I wasn’t sure about it so I went light on it just in case it was gross canned]
boiled rice, to serve

1.  Peel and devein the shrimp; reserve the heads and shells.  Cover and chill the shrimp while you make the sauce.  [I cut off the tails of the shrimp, and they were already deveined.  See notes]

2.  Place the shrimp heads and shells in a saucepan with the water, quartered onion and 1 of the bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Partly cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain and set aside.  [See notes]

3.  To make a Cajun roux, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the flour, a little at a time, and blend to a smooth paste. [I used a cast-iron skillet]

4.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 25 to 40 minutes until the roux reaches the color of peanut butter.  Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until the roux cools and stops cooking. [Here was my mistake, I don’t believe I cooked the roux long enough.  Instead of my gumbo coming out a caramel color it was more latte colored, still good but the wrong color]

5.  Melt the margarine or butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or flameproof casserole.  Finely chop the remaining onions and add to the pan with the peppers and celery.  Cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally. [this looks very pretty with the colored peppers instead of all green]

6.  Add the sausage, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes longer.  Add the okra and garlic, stir and cook until the okra stops producing white “threads”.  [I didn’t use the okra so I simply went by the seat of my pants on this step]

7.  Add the remaining bay leaves, the thyme, salt, black and white pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot pepper sauce.  Stir well then stir in 1 1/2 quarts of the shrimp stock and the plum tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, partly cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

8.  Whisk in the Cajun roux.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil, whisking well.  Lower the heat again and simmer, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. [I had some questions at this point as to whether I cooked it long enough, at this step I suddenly had to run out of the house]

9.  Stir in the shrimp and crabmeat.  Cook for at least 3 to 4 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink.

10.  To serve, put a mound of hot, boiled rice in each serving bowl and ladle the gumbo over, making sure each person gets some shrimp, crabmeat and sausage.

I didn’t buy fully shrimp.  What they really wanted were prawns.  The recipe should have asked for those because by boiling all of the shells and the heads it would have made it seafood tasting enough.  That is why I added the fish stock to the recipe because it was not fishy enough.  I also don’t believe I heated the roux to the right color.  I think if I made it darker it would have made the gumbo the color I am used to.

Makes 18 measured cups [make sure you are hungry]

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