South Louisiana has been classified as a Shangri-la for the fishermen and for the seafood lovers alike. Submerged in deep Southern Arcadian or Cajun history and traditions, the area offers many highly seasoned Cajun soul food dishes such as Crawfish Etouffee (pronounced ey-too-fey), Jambalaya, and Gumbo.
Many years ago, when we lived in Jackson, Mississippi, my wife and I became friends with Marie, a native of the Saint Charles Parish, New Orleans area. She taught my wife several original and authentic Cajun recipes. One recipe she instilled in us was the Shrimp Gumbo that accentuated a mix of other treats; such as, chicken and smoked sausage.
Gumbo should be enjoyed year-round and we actually do, but Shrimp Gumbo has become a tradition on Christmas Eve at our house. A tradition first shared with our daughters when they were children and now-a-days, since they are now married, we include our sons-in-law and our eleven grandchildren. Now, I believe that calls for a large pot of hot Christmas Gumbo!
Try this Cajun recipe. We believe you, your family and friends will love it. Our children claim that Christmas Eve would not be the same without our self proclaimed famous shrimp Gumbo.
Cajun Shrimp Gumbo Recipe
By Charlotte Hollingsworth
(3) large boneless chicken breasts
(1 1/2) pounds medium size shrimp
(1) pound Smoked Sausage cut into bite size portions
(1) box Zatarain's Crab & Shrimp boil
(1) large onion, chopped
(3 - 4) finely chopped cloves of garlic
(1/2) cup all-purpose flour
(1/4) cup vegetable oil
(1) tablespoon file' (pronounced fee-ley) Powder
(1/2) teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
(2) bay leaves
(1) tablespoon Old Bay Creole seasoning
(2) Tablespoons chopped parsley
(1) box frozen whole okra
(8) cups chicken stock
Cook chicken breasts in a large pot with 8 - 9 cups water until fork tender. Set aside and allow to cool.
Bring 3 cups of water to boil with one (1) bag of Zatarain's Crab and Shrimp boil. Boil for ten (10) minutes. Remove from heat. Add shrimp and allow to sit in covered pot allowing the shrimp to absorb the flavors of shrimp & Crab boil. Set aside to cool.
Mix chopped onions and garlic with the smoked sausage in a skillet and saute' for approximately three (3) minutes. Set aside.
(Make a Roux) In a large heavy bottom pot, mix half (1/2) cup flour with one-quarter (1/4) cup vegetable oil. Maintain medium heat, stirring constantly, brown for approximately twenty (20) minutes until it reaches a dark brown color. Be certain not to scorch.
Chop chicken into bite size portions. Peel shrimp. Add both to the pot with chicken stock. Add the sausage, sauteed vegetables, bay leaf, Cayenne pepper powder, okra,and parsley. Simmer for one (1) hour. Add more chicken stock as or if needed and according to desired thickness.
Just before serving add the File' power and remove the bay leaves.
There You Have It!
There are many steps but it is always worth the time. With the smell of gumbo being prepared, one can almost hear our Louisiana Arcadian or Cajun friends singing their Cajun style country & blues music. Singing in the endemical French language and to the distinctive sounds of their fiddles and hand accordions. Yes, a little bit of Mardi Gras at home and mixed in with the Super Bowl after-glow . Really hard to beat.
Serve this hearty gumbo meal hot and with crusty French bread.
An Easier Version:
Use Zaterain's Gumbo Mix. Use ingredients, shrimp, chicken, and sausage, but the roux will come in the box along with the spices. Either way, this shrimp gumbo is delicious, and it becomes even better tasting when you go back later for "seconds".
Sources: Personal Gumbo Recipe | http://www.balfatoujours.com/cajuns.html | http://www.louisianafolklife.org/
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