Shrimp Gumbo

I was craving shrimp cocktail.  I bought a huge bag of frozen precooked shrimp.  The shrimp cocktail I made in my last post was just for my husband and I. What was I thinking?  I kept wondering what I would do with all the extra shrimp. Internet research lead me to consider: garlic shrimp and pasta, shrimp quesadillas, shrimp and grits, and shrimp gumbo. Shrimp gumbo won!  Except everything I read made me nervous about cooking the roux.  I think experienced roux makers can just go for the stove top method and stir, and stir, and stir, until a deep rich color is achieved. However, I was nervous.  I didn't have time to fail like I did time and time again with homemade mayonnaise. So, I went with what seemed like a foolproof oven-and-stovetop-combo method.  It worked!  Now that I have made a successful roux I may try stovetop-only method next time.

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Shrimp Gumbo
4 oz canola oil
4 oz flour
1 green bell pepper, diced small
1 celery stalk, diced small
1 medium/large onion, diced small
4 cups of shrimp stock - below (or a combination of clam juice, vegetable stock, and chicken stock)
3 cups of stock (I used a combination of equal parts chicken stock and vegetable stock)
1 15 oz can of no salt diced tomatoes
1 bag of frozen okra
2 teaspoons of thyme
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon of essence
1 Tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
12 oz of andouille sausage, 1/4 inch biased slices
12 oz of shrimp (I used precooked and added last)

For the Shrimp Stock
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups of shrimp tails and shells
1 onion quartered
1 celery stalk
1 handful of baby carrots or 1 large whole carrot
1 cup of dry white wine
8 whole pepper corns
1 bay leaf

1. Heat oil in a medium-size pot until it shimmers, add shrimp parts, and sauté for 3 minutes. (In my case the tails from the shrimp I had on hand made up half. I had another cup of shrimp parts in the freezer from another recipe).

2. Add onion, celery, and carrot pieces. Continue to sauté  the mixture for 3 more minutes.

3. Add the wine and cook until it's reduced by half. (I used champagne because I had some leftover from our Christmas Breakfast)

4. Add four cups of water, 8 pepper corns, 1 bay leaf, and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes.

5. Strain the liquid through cheese cloth and set aside.

For the Roux
4 oz of canola oil
4 oz of flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure out the oil and flour in small bowls (a scale is preferable for this part).

2. Mix the flour and oil in a dutch oven and bake in the oven (as opposed to stirring constantly over low heat) for 30 minutes.  IMPORTANT: set a timer.

3. At the 30 minute mark remove the dutch oven and stir the flour and oil.  The roux is still light in color at this point.  Place the pot back in the oven for another 30 minutes.  IMPORTANT: using a timer is important.  If the roux burns you'll need to start over.

4. At the 60 minute mark remove the dutch oven and stir the flour and oil. The roux is significantly darker at this point, but wait, you want the darkest roux without burning it, so bake for ANOTHER 30 minutes.  Confession time: I was so nervous that I checked and stirred twice during this last 30 minutes of baking.  So, remove the pot and stir the roux at the 75 minute mark, and at the 90 minute mark. So, let's recap that is a total of 1 1/2 hours of baking the roux which you can do on the stove top, but I don't want to babysit and stir roux on the stove top for that long.

5. After removing the roux from the oven at the 90 minute mark, it will be a rich carmel color.  You could proceed to the next step at this point, OR you could go for a deep pumpkin pie color roux.  You choose.  I continuously stirred the roux on a low heat (3 on my electric stove) for ANOTHER 30 minutes. Yes, that means 2 hours for the roux alone.

6. Have the diced onion, celery, and green pepper ready to go along with the shrimp stock near by as you finish up stirring the roux in the previous step.  As you add the onion, celery, and green pepper the roux will darken even more.

7. Keep stirring as long as you dare, and then add 4 cups of shrimp stock and the okra.

8. Add 3 more cups of stock (I used equal parts of chicken stock and vegetable stock).

9. Next add all the seasonings and simmer uncovered on low for 40 minutes: thyme, garlic, essence, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper.  Wait to adjust seasonings until after the sausage has been added.  NOTE: this would be a good time to make some rice to serve with the gumbo.

10. It's finally time to add the andouille sausage to the gumbo. Simmer the gumbo with the sausage for 5 minutes and then adjust seasonings if necessary.

11.  Add the shrimp, turn off the heat and cover for 3 minutes.

12.  That's it.  The shrimp gumbo is done. Serve with rice. I made brown rice while the gumbo was simmering.


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