Crab and Shrimp Gumbo
When the weather outside is frightful….have some nice hot gumbo! Gumbo has been a family favorite for generations. I asked mom when she first remembered having gumbo. Mom said she first remembered having gumbo at our Granny’s coffee shop in Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 1965 (she was 18 at the time). A huge pot of gumbo would be made as the daily special. The best customers were the construction workers who stayed at Granny’s attached motel by the week. Any gumbo leftovers were frozen in serving sized containers for later use. Here is a helpful hint-gumbo freezes and reheats very well. In 1965 there weren’t any microwaves but it doesn’t take very long to reheat gumbo on the stovetop. Of course, in my house if you want to freeze a portion of gumbo, you’d better take that portion out before the pot hits the table!
One of the best things about gumbo is that everyone does it a little differently but everyone does it deliciously! Feel free to add or subtract ingredients to your taste. Some people like corn, okra, less shrimp, more shrimp, no shrimp, chicken, sausage, pancetta, chili peppers. Make it your own.
It’s worth noting that I’ve “cheated” the roux in this recipe today. But, I promise you won’t miss it and if you don’t tell anyone you didn’t do a proper roux, they won’t know. Serve this up with a little fresh roll and your family will feel warm no matter what the weather dishes out!
Crab and Shrimp Gumbo
3 slices of thick cut bacon, diced
½ yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup celery root, diced
¼ cup flour
3 medium diced tomatoes
1 can stewed diced tomato
1 can tomato sauce
12 cups water
1 cup crab or chicken stock
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground mustard seed
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon gumbo filé
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt (more or less to taste)
Crab meat from two whole Dungeness crab (I like to reserve my claws for garnish)
1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined (I like 51/60 size for gumbo)
In a large pot on medium heat, cook bacon until the fat has rendered out and the bacon starts to turn golden. Stirring frequently, add in the onion, bell pepper, celery root, carrot celery and garlic, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender crisp.
Stir flour into the veggies to coat and continue stirring until the flour turns golden on the veggies (around 3-4 minutes). Stir constantly as the flour will start to stick to the pan. This is okay. Add in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, stewed diced tomatoes (liquid too), water, stock, parsley, thyme, mustard seed, paprika, bay leaves gumbo file, the rest of the pepper and a little more salt (reserving some for later seasoning after tasting). Simmer mixture for 30-40 minutes. Don’t forget to taste your gumbo to see if you need more salt or anything else. A few minutes before you are ready to serve, stir in shrimp and crab. Cook for no more than two minutes and remove pot from the heat. Let the gumbo rest a few minutes, then ladle over a little steamed rice. Garnish with crab claws for something a little extra special.
If you do happen to have any gumbo left you want to freeze, first let the soup come down to room temperature, ladle into a Tupperware container or mason jar, leaving around 1 inch of space at the top to allow for expansion. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before transferring to the freezer. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.