I could never cut it as a restaurant chef, simply because one, I lack the training, and two, and most importantly, I never follow a recipe exactly and consistency is key in the restaurant business. My favorite song, which describes me perfectly, is “My Way”, sung by Frank Sinatra. I often have it playing when I am cooking or creating for inspiration. My gumbo was no exception. I had Frank blasting in the background, so I guess that is how I veered off the traditional recipe that I had found and did it my way. What I did differently was to let the rice cook in the pot with the gumbo instead of making it separately. I also used chopped clams instead of oysters simply because there was a huge price difference and the shrimp was expensive enough. I also made a quick roux instead of making a long, flavorful brown one, again, I didn’t read ahead and I did it my way. I did not use okra, which is a staple in gumbo because I just couldn’t find it at the market. Everything else I believe I did according to tradition. Having always wanted to try a gumbo recipe, I found it to be simple, delicious, soul warming and straightforward. Great for a party or a cold winter day! It makes me want to hop on a plane and eat gumbo in New Orleans!
Serves: 4 Hearty Eaters
1 lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb uncooked chopped clams and their juice.
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 – 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used 2 or maybe even 3)
4 – 8 cups seafood or chicken stock (I used chicken)
1 14 oz can peeled, whole tomatoes with the juice
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons Wildflower Foods Creole Blend (I love having all the spices premixed) Click Here To View Wildflower Foods
1 cup Calasparra rice (a paella rice that absorbs 3 times as much liquid as regular rice)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large heavy bottom dutch oven, heat enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
When heated, add the onions, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Saute on medium high until fragrant and soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the creole seasoning blend, combining well and letting the flavors meld together for a minute of two.
Add a bit more oil and the flour, coating the vegetables well and cooking for about a minute or two, stirring continually. You are trying to cook off the raw taste of the flour and bring out its nutty flavor (the flour and oil together make what is known as the roux).
Add the tomatoes, their juice, the clams and their juice, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon, heat through.
Add 4 cups of the stock and stir well. Bring to a slow boil, then turn heat to simmer and add your rice. At this point I stir and cover the pot, always keeping a close eye on the liquid level. Add more stock as needed until rice is done, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Salt and Pepper to taste!
15 minutes before serving, stir in the shrimp and add more stock if needed.
Serve with a fabulous baguette.