Right off the bat, I’m going to be honest and say I’m not much of a cook. I can do simple things, pasta, burgers, chicken, etc. However, to me it’s always seemed like true cooks could simply grab random ingredients from a fridge and make a four course meal. There’s something about gumbo though that makes even a novice cook like myself feel a little more confident.
In the film The Princess and the Frog, Tiana makes gumbo for her family, and in fact shares it with the entire community. It’s easy to see why, even a simple gumbo will feed more than a few people. This recipe will definitely last me and my husband a few days. Besides it’s ability to be shared, the other great thing about gumbo is that there is no one way to make it. Some people use vegetables only, some use chicken, shrimp and sausage and still others use some combination in between. For my recipe I chose to forgo the chicken, and focus on the sausage and shrimp, two of my favorites.
I also wanted to include one of my absolute favorite vegetables, one that’s also featured briefly in the film, okra! I was lucky enough to find some fresh okra at the local farmer’s market, but depending on where you live it can be nearly impossible to find fresh. So frozen okra can be used in a pinch.
Now what vegetables you use is ultimately up to you, just like with the choice of meats to include. But there are some you definitely don’t want to skip, for instance a combination of a red and orange pepper will give your gumbo a much needed kick and onion will add to the savory flavor. In my recipe I also used the aforementioned okra, scallions, celery, and crushed tomatoes.
A list of all my used ingredients can be found below:
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 links smoked Andouille sausage (about 12 ounces), sliced
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1-2 cups okra (depending on how much you love okra, haha)
- 5 scallions, sliced
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
A roux is also required for gumbo. A roux for those of you who didn’t know, like myself, is what gives the gumbo it’s thicker consistency. For this recipe the ingredients are very simple:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup canola oil
Of course, possibly the most important part of any gumbo is the seasoning. Now again, being a gumbo, you can decide what you’d like to include in your Cajun seasoning, and how much of a kick you want your dish to have. I used the combination below:
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon onion salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Now, it’s important to note before you begin cooking gumbo, that there is a considerable amount of time needed for the ingredients to cook and cure together. About an hour and a half when all is said and done. So be sure to allow that time in your schedule. Below you will find the detailed step by step instructions for making this delicious meal.
- Cajun Seasoning: Combine and mix the cajun seasoning ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Make the roux: Heat canola oil in a large pot or dutch oven (at least 5 quarts) over medium heat. Add butter and flour. Cook until the roux turns into a dark caramel color, about 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Cook the vegetables: Add chopped bell peppers, onions, and celery and okra to the pot with the roux. Stir until well mixed with the roux. Cook until the vegetables soften and become fragrant, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Simmer with liquids and spices: Add diced tomatoes (including the liquid), chicken broth, scallions, and cajun seasoning mix to the same pot. Bring to a boil and then decrease heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 1 hour.
- Add shrimp and sausage: Uncover the pot. Add shrimp and sausage to the pot, mixing well. Let simmer until the shrimp is opaque and cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with rice.