It’s Gumbo Season

26 Oct

About ten days ago, I posted a pot of gumbo and its fixins. Now for folks who may not be familiar with this signature dish from the Gulf Coast, this is gumbo season. Since my first post I’ve seen so many gumbo images on social media, I’m making a second batch today.

Often prepared with seafood, gumbo is a dish with almost endless versions—find it with or without seafood, with chicken, ham, sausage, bacon, beef turkey, duck, rabbit or game; with or without okra or tomatoes, or primarily vegetables as in gumbo z’herbes. Traditionally served over rice, it is a dish that showcases the ingredients on hand.  Prepared by African-American cooks in the 18th and 19th centuries, gumbo is an original fusion food. The mingling of African, Native American, French and Spanish cultures paired with locally available foodstuffs created the savory stew we know as gumbo.

Now gumbo is not a last minute, in a hurry recipe. It takes, pre-planning, patience, and a dash of love—for what you’re cooking and the friends and family you’re cooking a meal for. One of my good friends shared her grandmother’s recipe with me and I’ve adapted it for folks who may not have cooked as long as her Grandma Camille. Whether you’re in N’awlins, Mobile or Chicago a hot bowl of gumbo is good eating anytime.

Camille’s Gumbo


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

2 large cloves garlic, minced

11/2 tablespoons allspice

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon salt

1-quart fish stock

4 cups or 1 32-oz. carton chicken broth

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

3 bay leaves

1 lb. frozen crab claws

1 cup chopped cooked chicken

2 cups cooked smoked pork sausage slices

2 lbs. raw medium shrimp (41/50 count) peeled, deveined

1 cup okra slices

Gumbo file, to taste


In large skillet or Dutch oven, combine oil, and flour, mixing with wire whisk until blended. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat until flour mixture darkens to rich brown color. Add celery, onion, and green pepper; continue cooking over low heat until tender.

Stir in garlic and seasonings, except gumbo file. In large pot (approx. 12-qt.) combine vegetable mixture, fish stock, chicken broth and tomato paste, mixing until blended. Cover, cook over low heat 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in crab claws, chicken, and sausage; continue cooking 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp, and okra; continue cooking 3 to 4 minutes or just until shrimp are opaque. Serve with gumbo filé and rice.

Fish Stock

To make ahead, prepare as directed and refrigerate 1 to 2 days. If you’d like to hold longer, freeze.

4-1/2 cups cold water

Shells from 2 lbs. shrimp

2 tablespoons chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped onion

In 2-quart saucepan, combine ingredients; cook over low heat 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture simmers. Cover: continue cooking 45 minutes. Drain; discard shells.

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