The roots of Gumbo are deep and widespread. It begins with the 18th century French Bouillabaisse (essentially a fish stew). The Choctaw Indians introduced “file” powder, an herb made from the dried leaves of a Sassafras tree. The history continues as other cultures add okra, seasonings, and more.
Gumbo was a dish made among all the classes of Southern society. It could be simple and made with whatever protein was available or dressed up with the finest ingredients. Traditionally, gumbo was thickened with either okra or file. Today, most recipes use a roux or base mix to thicken. Gumbo should always be served with rice.
The recipe I offer you today is one that has been passed around. As each person receives it, we each make it our own. My recipe includes the Spanish “trinity,” onions, bell peppers and celery, which was often used in traditional gumbo. Since living in Florida, I add Gulf shrimp to mine also.
This recipe is dedicated to my dear friend, Lynn Boren. She is a true Louisianan cook and has shared some of her best jambalaya recipes with me. I feel so blessed to have met her.
2 boxes Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Gumbo Mix with Rice
2 sweet Vidalia onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 pkg Conecuh Cajun smoked sausage, chopped
1 1b Tennessee Pride mild sausage
1/2 lb Tennessee Pride hot sausage (If you like it spicy, add 1 lb hot sausage.)
2 pkg Tyson’s Southwestern chicken, chopped
2 lb frozen, cooked or fresh steamed shrimp (I use Fisherman’s Wharf brand or go to Joe Patti’s and buy fresh, steamed.)
Fill a stock pot 2/3rds full of cold water. Add gumbo mix with rice and remember to stir it frequently. This will prevent the rice, etc from sticking to and scorching the bottom of your pan. In a cast iron skillet, saute onions, bell peppers, and celery until caramelized or slightly translucent. Add Cajun smoked sausage, mild sausage and hot sausage to skillet and continue cooking on medium heat. Turn the meat so that it cooks thoroughly. While you are cooking the meat, this is also a good time to stir your stock pot.
Once the sausage has browned and is cooked completely through, drain the grease from it with a colander and return the sausage to your stockpot. In the remaining cast iron skillet, add Southwestern chicken and shrimp. Once it has thawed somewhat (since these are already cooked), add it to the stock pot. If you don’t have a huge 20 qt stock pot, you may have to divide your recipe into two 6 qt stock pots. Once all the ingredients are combined in your stock pots, you are ready to serve, but I like to cook mine on low on the stove top for an additional hour or two or in my largest crockpot until service. This time allows the soup to build flavor or “season up” so to speak. Serve warm with French bread or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. This recipe makes great freezer meals! Simply freeze in freezer bags or freezer containers and thaw in a saucepan! Enjoy!
This recipe pairs well with an Abita Turbodog beer. Abita is brewed in Louisiana but is distributed nationwide. To get a taste of Abita, visit their Tasting Room.
To learn more about the History of Gumbo, go to these pages!