Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crock Pot Gumbo

The best Southern Gumbo I've ever eaten comes from my own Mother's Alabama kitchen. After we visited several years ago and she had cooked it, I asked for her recipe, which she happily provided.

It was some time later, when I made it at home myself, that I realized what a true labor of love went into Mama's huge pot of gumbo.  I was over that stove for hours! I thought I would never be done. Every step seemed to take forever. 

I was quite happy the day I made a truly tasty gumbo in the crock pot and have made it several times since. It may not be as excellent as Mama's, but it is still very delicious.

The secret to an authentically flavored gumbo lies in a deep, dark, rich, mahogany colored roux, which is an art in itself.  Mary, of Deep South Dish gives an excellent tutorial explaining roux, and a method for making it in the oven.

Another essential in gumbo is what Cajun cooks refer to as their trinity--onions, celery, and green bell pepper. And thirdly, okra. Any combination of meats and seafood can be used. I use chicken, sausage, and shrimp. Lucky you, if you have access to fresh seafood--load it up, oysters, crab, you name it. 

Crock Pot Gumbo
1 lb. kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 lb. boneless chicken
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 plump cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. sliced okra (frozen is fine)
1/2 cup roux
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 quart tomatoes, undrained

Layer ingredients, in order given, into the crock pot but don't stir. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Lower heat to low and continue cooking for 7 hours.

About 10 to 15 minutes before serving, add:
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco

Cook until shrimp are done but not overcooked. Adjust seasonings, including the addition of salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls, top with a scoop of hot rice, and pass the hot sauce.

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