If you are new to the party here are some things to know before I write out this recipe. My partner Mike has a series of food allergies, sensitivities, and preferences. He has celiac disease, he has a very bad reaction to garlic, he is allergic to the protein in dairy products, and he chooses to eschew meat with the exception of chicken (and the chicken is a recent addition after 10 years of being a pescatarian – have mercy on him since his safe list of foods is a shorter one than most of us enjoy).
In addition to his food issues, I have very high standards for Cajun food. I lived in Texas for almost four years and enjoyed some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life (Houston very seriously rivals San Francisco for amazing food). I haven’t had really good barbeque or Cajun food since leaving Texas. I will also say that I have never in my life personally made a shrimp gumbo that came anywhere near what I enjoyed out there. That, my friends, has suddenly changed. Considering my limitations – no flour for a roux, no chorizo, and no garlic! – it is indeed a bit of a minor miracle.
From my kitchen to yours; I hope you will try this recipe!
Shrimp Gumbo (GF/DF) Recipe:
Olive oil for sautéing
½ lb. of frozen cut okra
2-3 tblsp. cornstarch
2-3 oz. GF Chicken breakfast sausage (the kind that is not in a casing)
1 tblsp. paprika
1 medium onion diced
3-4 stalks of celery diced
1 green pepper diced
1 jalapeño pepper with ribs and seeds removed, diced very finely
1 ½ cups of fish stock (you can buy this frozen in the market, clam juice can substitute, you can also use water)
1 14 oz can of organic chopped tomatoes in juice (unsalted would be best)
1 bay leaf
1-2 tsp. dried thyme
1 pound of raw, shelled and deveined shrimp
1 tblsp. file powder
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Thinly sliced scallions
Fresh, chopped cilantro
In a shallow bowl add the frozen okra and dust with the corn starch. Toss the okra and corn starch together until the okra is evenly coated. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium/high heat. Swirl the oli in the pan as it heats to fully coat the pan. Add the okra in an even layer and let sit until the okra begins to brown. Begin sautéing the okra until most of the “snotty” stickiness is gone. Transfer the okra to a dish and set aside.
In the same pan you cooked the okra, sauté the chicken breakfast sausage, breaking the ground meat up in the pan so that it is in small pieces. When the sausage is almost done add the paprika and continue stirring being careful not to burn the paprika. Add a little water (or chicken stock if you have some handy) to the chicken mixture and deglaze the pan. Let most of the liquid boil off and then transfer to a heavy stew pot (if you are lucky enough to have an enameled cast iron pot then this is the perfect time to use it).
Add a little bit of olive oil to the stew pot that contains the sausage mixture and turn the heat to medium/high. When the mixture and oil is hot add the onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and sauté until the vegetables are wilted. Add the fish stock, tomatoes with their juice, okra, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer on medium to low heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are at a soft – but not mushy – consistency. Add the shrimp and freshly ground pepper (Notice I did not add any salt; the chicken breakfast sausage is salty enough to season the entire thing). Simmer for two minutes more until the shrimp turns opaque. At the last minute add in the file powder and stir well.
Serve this piping hot over rice and sprinkle a bit of scallion and cilantro on top.
That was just damned freakin yum, yo. I am a great white north Canuck and know nothing from gumbo but I’d eat that dish every week. Even with the death-by-empty-calories white rice.