So here’s a fun fact. I still write down all my recipes. Like on paper. With a writing utensil. Case in point:
(Please ignore the chipped nail polish. I’m so embarrassing.)
See, while I’m normally glued to a phone or computer or TV I sometimes love taking a pen to paper. Even as a (kind of) food blogger, I truly believe recipes belong on paper. The only actual, real life books I buy these days are cookbooks and I can’t even tell you how much I love buying them. I can spend hours upon hours in the tiny bookstores in my neighborhood just browsing the various cookbooks available. I’m pretty sure the people who work at these bookstores think I’m a homeless person looking to get out of the cold, as I stand there in my too-big-for-me hobo sweater, taking laps around the store with a total bewildered look on my face.
In reality, I’ve just come from the laundromat and am killing some time before I have to go put my clothes in the dryer. The sweater was $12 at Target and is three sizes too big because it was the last one available, but it’s warm, comfy and it distracts people from my face and hair, which tend to fall in the “hot mess” category when I’m doing laundry. No shame. Dirty laundry, hobo sweaters and not getting kicked out of bookstores – welcome to my Saturday morning!
I actually made this gumbo for the first time on a Saturday. But it was back in December when I was home in Texas for the holidays. It was just me and my dad and I spent almost 70% of my time in the kitchen. It was amazing and I miss every minute of that trip. Gumbo is one of my dad’s favorite meals, and I know my mom makes a more simple (yet equally delicious) version pretty frequently, but this time I wanted to do it right so I spent a good hour looking up recipes, put a few together and this is what I got! And here’s the thing – I knew it was going to be a little labor intensive, but was not prepared for the amount of oil and stirring involved. Spoiler alert: I’m about to ask you to whisk 1/2 cup of oil and flour FOR 20 MINUTES STRAIGHT. Seriously, that’s something I’m going to ask you to do. And because of this, I’m going to have to ask you to forgive me and trust me. It’s necessary and so worth it.
I’ve tried this recipe a few times now, and once I decided I didn’t need to keep stirring. That it was silly and would be perfectly fine after 10 minutes (which is still a long time to stir!). But I was wrong. And as much as I hate to admit that, I must. For you. I do this all for you. And my dad. And my mom who had it a few weeks later. And my friends who ate it when I made it back it SF. Okay fine, I would do this for anyone. I love through food.
(P.S. Just googled “file powder” because I realized I had no idea what it is and couldn’t tell you about it, and found out it is” a spicy herb made from the dried and ground leaves of the sassafras tree.” Excuse me? SASSAFRAS? This is a thing?! And I get to put in my gumbo?! LIFE IS SO GOOD.)
So now you get a recipe for gumbo and a new favorite word. Get to it, sassafras.
Gumbo (serves 6-8)
1lb smoked sausage, diced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 bay leaves
1 t salt
1 T creole seasoning
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked okra (you can rinse off the slimy parts if you want – I did)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deviened
1/2 lb baby scallops
1-2 T file powder
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
In a large bottom-heavy pot, sauté the sausage until browned (even though it’s pre-cooked you still want to do this). Remove sausage and set aside. In the same pot, whisk together the flour and oil to make a roux. Keep whisking for 20-25 minutes (yes, really) until the roux is a deep brown – almost chocolate in color. Once the roux is brown enough, add in your onion, pepper and celery and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the veg is soft. Add the sausage back in the pot, along with salt, creole seasoning and bay leaves. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow to simmer (uncovered) for one hour.
After the hour is up, add in your tomatoes, okra, green onions and file powder. At this point you can taste the gumbo and adjust your seasoning. I always end up adding in a bit more creole seasoning, but that’s just me. Let everything simmer for another 10 minutes and then add in the shrimp and scallops. Simmer until the seafood is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice, with hot sauce on the side!