Shrimp and Okra Gumbo
Serves 8. Recipe is from “Gumbo: a SAVOR THE SOUTH cookbook” by Dale Curry. Copyright 2015 by University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press, www.uncpress.unc.edu. “Creoles and Cajuns have long survived on this basic gumbo, and there is none better. The ingredients are pure Louisiana. Use fresh okra and shrimp if available, but frozen will run a close second. The only accompaniments needed are rice and French bread.”
3 pounds small-to-medium shrimp in shells with heads or 1½ pounds peeled and deveined frozen shrimp, thawed
1 pound fresh okra, cut into ¼-inch pieces, or frozen cut okra, thawed
1 tablespoon plus ½ cup vegetable oil, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 quarts shrimp stock or water
1½ teaspoons Creole seasoning
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cooked long-grain white rice, for serving
1. If using fresh shrimp, de-head, peel, and devein them, placing the shells and heads in a medium pot. Add enough water to cover the shells by at least 2 inches and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. When slightly cooled, strain the stock into a large measuring cup and discard the shells.
2. If using fresh okra, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-to-large skillet. Over medium heat, cook the okra, stirring occasionally, until the stringy liquid disappears. Set aside.
3. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until the roux begins to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions and the white parts of the green onions and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the bell pepper and celery and cook until wilted. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
4. Add the tomatoes and gradually stir in the stock or water. Add all the seasonings except the parsley, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer until the shrimp turn pink, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add green onion tops and parsley and remove the bay leaves.
5. Serve in bowls over hot rice with hot French bread.