"As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans."--Ernest Hemingway

Seafood Gumbo Recipe

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This recipe for Seafood Gumbo, by , is from Chef Anna's Cookbook, one of the cookbooks created at FamilyCookbookProject.com. We help families or individuals create heirloom cookbook treasures.


Added: Monday, October 10, 2005


8 quarts cold water
8-10 pounds chicken parts (backs, necks, etc.) and bones, or a whole chicken, cut up and skillet-browned
Shrimp shells and heads, reserved from the 4 pounds of shrimp that have been peeled for the final step of the gumbo (the heads are very important!)
8 ounces onions, chopped
4 ounces celery with tops, chopped
4 ounces carrots, chopped
2 heads garlic, cut in half horizontally
Sachet d'Úpices: In a small cheesecloth bag or tea ball, place:
1 teaspoon or so black peppercorns, cracked
A few parsley stems
1 bayleaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1 cup flour
1 cup oil

1 chicken or guinea hen, without giblets, cut up
1 to 1-1/2 pounds andouillesausage, sliced about 1/4" thick on the bias (you may substitute hot or mild smoked sausage if good andouille isn't available) and/or fresh Creole hot sausage, browned
4 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 blue crabs, cleaned, broken in half and claws pulled off (or for a more elegant looking gumbo, omit and instead add 1-1/2 pounds lump white crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage)
3 pounds okra, sliced (leave out if you don't like okra, but be sure to add filÚ at the end if you leave out the okra)
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Creole seasoning to taste, OR
black, white and cayenne peppers, to taste
Salt to taste
Few dashes Tabasco, or to taste.
1 - 2 tablespoons filÚ powder (ONLY IF YOU DON'T USE OKRA!)
Steaming hot Louisiana long-grain rice

If at all possible, please try to get shrimp with the heads on. Shrimp heads impart a wonderful flavor to the stock, and it just ain't the same as a real New Orleans gumbo without them. Do whatever you have to do. In many cities you'll have better luck at Asian seafood markets. Remove the skin from the chicken and chop into 3-4 inch pieces, making sure to cut through and expose the bones. Brown the chicken parts and bones in a skilliet with oil, or in a 350░F oven for about 20 minutes. Put the chicken in the stockpot with the water and bring slowly to a simmer. Periodically skim off any scum that forms, and if you wish use a skimmer to skim off the fat. Let this simmer for at least three, and preferably four hours. It is this long simmering process that extracts the maximum flavor from the chicken meat and bones, as well as the natural gelatin from the bones. When refrigerated, a good chicken stock will be clear and gelatinous Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Place the peppercorns, parsley sprigs and dried herbs into a 4-inch square piece of cheesecloth or large tea ball (making what's called a sachet d'epices) and tie it into a little sack; add the sack to the stock (you can tie the sack closed with some twine and tie the long end of the twine to the handle of the pot; this makes the bag easier to retrieve.) Simmer for one more hour, then add the shrimp shells and heads. Simmer an additional 30 minutes. Remember that during the simmering process, it's best not to stir the stock. The end result will be much clearer if it is not agitated while simmering. Strain thoroughly; the best way to do this is to ladle the stock out and pour it through a strainer which has been lined with a couple of layers of damp cheesecloth. If you're using the stock immediately, skim off as much fat as you can with a fat skimmer or a piece of paper towel, otherwise cool the stock right away by placing the container into an ice-water-filled sink, stirring to bring the hot liquid from the center to the sides of the container. Don't just put hot stock in the refrigerator; it won't cool enough to prevent possible multiplication of harmful bacteria. (A neat trick I learned recently -- fill Ziploc freezer bags with water and freeze them, then place the bags of ice into the stock; this will cool the stock without diluting it!) To defat the stock easily, refrigerate so that the fat solidifies on the surface, then skim off. Makes about 5 quarts of stock.

Personal Notes:
Personal Notes:
I call this my "everything" gumbo. It's a bit unusual in that the chicken stock is also infused with a seafood flavor from the shrimp shells and heads, and that it contains chicken, sausage and seafood.
I believe this makes for a much richer and more complex set of flavors for the gumbo. Remember that you MUST go through the stock making process for this dish; plain water or a canned stock will simply not do. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this step. Yes, you'll see gumbo recipes that call for plain water, but I do not believe that it's worth it to make a gumbo this way. You simply cannot get the depth and multi-layered complexity of flavors without starting with a homemade stock. Also, if you want a more elegant-looking gumbo (rather than this version, which is rather rustic), remove the chicken from the bones, cut into chunks and add the meat back to the gumbo; also, instead of using whole crabs that you have to crack, omit them and add a pound and a half of good white crabmeat along with the shrimp near the end of cooking. Do not use artificial crab.

***under review...ratios need to be tested in this recipe***




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