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It snowed again here in South Central PA and it's got me thinking about warm food from the summer.  One of my favorite dishes is a well prepared gumbo.

Gumbo has its roots in Geechee culture along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina (sup, Valerie?!) and is thought (according to the historians at Wikipedia) to be "a reinterpretation of traditional African cooking.  West Africans used the vegetable okra as a base for many dishes, including soups, often pairing okra with meat and shrimp, with salt and pepper as seasonings.  In Louisiana, the dish was modified to include ingredients introduced by other cultural groups.  Surviving records indicate that by 1764, African slaves in New Orleans mixed okra with rice to make this meal."

The base of the gumbo consists of the holy trinity of Cajun cooking:  onions, bell peppers, and celery.  There are also three distinct variations of gumbo all derived from what type of thickener you used:  okra, dried and ground sassafras leaves, or the French roux, which is flour and fat mixed together. 

According to each cultural region in Louisiana, and the South in general, there are different rules to how you make your gumbo and what you include.  I, following the American way, say more is better.  That means mixing meat and shellfish, and every possible vegetable I can find.  That is why is it a great summer dish and easily filled when you stop by your local farmer's market to see us.  This particular recipe comes to you from Alton Brown of The Food Network and it serves six.


  • 4 oz vegetable oil
  • 4 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 lbs raw whole shrimp
  • 2 qt water
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup tomato peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage cut in 1/4" pieces and browned
  • 1 Tbs file powder

Preheat oven to 350�F

Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5-6 quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine.  Place on the middle shelf of the oven uncovered and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2-3 times throughout the process.

While the roux is baking, dehead, peel, and devein the shrimp.  Place them in a bowl and set in the refrigerator.  Place the heads and shells in a 4 quart saucepan along with the 2 quarts of water.  Set over high heat and bring to a boil.  Decrease the heat to low and simmer for one hour or until the liquid has reduced to 1 quart.  Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.

Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat.  Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers, and garlic.  Stir constantly for 7-8 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne, and bay leaves.  Stir to combine.  Gradually add the shrimp broth while whisking continuously.  Decrease heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes.  Turn off the heat, add the shrimp and sausage and stir to combine.  Add the file powder while stirring.  Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving.  Serve over rice.


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Onion, Garlic, Tomato, Pepper: Hot, Pepper: Bell or Sweet, Okra, Summer Squash, Garlic Scape, Onion, Yellow,