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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Penny's Gumbo

My mother, Penny, or to her grandkids, Nanny, made the best gumbo. This is alittle unusal, because Mother was a Yankee and had not ever had gumbo until she met my Dad's mother, Mimi. Mimi was from Kentwood LA., and if there's one thing folks from LA can do it is COOK. My mother came south from a dairy farm in Wisconsin when she was 15. Until she met Mimi she was a picky eater. But thanks to Mimi and a couple of black housekeepers we had, she learned to like everything and became a very good cook. One thing she perfected was Seafood Gumbo. Here's what you will need:
4-6 lbs fresh shrimp at least
at least 1 lb crabmeat but 2 would be better
pint of oysters (or quart if you have the money and really like them)
celery whole bunch, 2 bellpeppers, 2 onions, bunch of green onions, 2-3 garlic cloves. All can be chopped the night before.
okra 1 small bag frozen
bay leaves
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
flour and oil for roux (or you can cheat and use a mix)
Here's what you do:
put all chopped veggies and bay leaves in a big pot with water to cover them. One mistake is starting with too much water. You will out grow you pot and have lots of liquid to thicken with the roux. Start small--you can always add. Let the veggies boil until done, add the can of maters, bay leaves, chicken broth and the crabmeat. Before you add it you need to pick through it for shell. Bring back to a simmer. You made need to add some water. You can go ahead and add some salt and pepper, some Tony's and some garlic powder. Add the oysters if you are going to use them. Now is the time to make the roux. Put enough oil in a frying pan to cover the bottom and be about 1/8" deep. Heat up on mdeium heat. Start adding flour and wisking it smooth until it is like very thick gravy. You want it as dark as you can get it but not burned. You may have to stir the whole time you are making it. You just have to practgice making roux and you will get it right. Once you have it as dark as you can get it, start adding spoonfuls to the gumbo, stirring in so it won't be lumpy. Let it simmer a few minutes. If it's not thick enough for you, make another batch. Once you have it like you want it, add the shrimp and okra. Let it simmer low, until the okra is done. Be sure to stir so it won't stick to the bottom of the pan. the last thing to add is File. Several times cover the top to the gumgo with it and stir in. about 3 -4 tablespoons. It will help to thicken the gumbo also. Serve over rice with hot sauce and crackers. Here's a few thing you can add if you like. Sausage, Mother would add roast beef if she had some chopped real small or ham. You can make chicken and sausage without any seafood that turns out real good too. Do everything the same, just add cooked chicken and sausage instead of any seafood. Some people like shrimp and sausage. Gumbo is not hard, it just takes practice, and you'll get it right.

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