Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cajun Seafood Gumbo with Andouille Smoked Sausage

Source: Chef Paul Prudhomme

This recipe was posted on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board a while back. We decided to try it to see if we could make anything remotely close to an authentic gumbo. After just one taste, we knew we would not have to try another recipe for gumbo - this was it. We've had gumbo in nice restaurants and in New Orleans itself and this one definitely measures up. And why not? It hails from one of New Orleans premiere Cajun chefs, Paul Prudhomme, of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. We had the privelige of eating there twice - both meals were fantastic.

There are many different versions of gumbo and each chef has their favorite. For some, it's not gumbo if it doesn't have okra. We're not huge fans of okra, so we tend to avoid it. For others, it simply must have filé, also a thickener. I have heard that you don't use okra and filé, one or the other, but not both. I've never tried filé before - I have read that it can get stringy if you heat it too much - seems too risky.

The gumbo that we love uses roux to thicken the soup. The roux not only thickens, but it imparts a wonderful, nutty flavor and gives the gumbo a gorgeous, deep brown color. I need to do some more reading on roux - I've had success with it several times, but the last two times I've made it, it didn't seem to thicken the gumbo as well. Apparently some recipes call for cooking the roux very slowly - apparently overcooking the flour can lessen its thickening power. More research is needed here.

You can use any seafood you like, but the trinity (the onions, celery and peppers) and the roux are essential. How much cayenne you use will likely be dependent on how spicy your andouille is - I wouldn't add the full amount of cayenne until you've added the sausage. I usually use only a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne - I don't like my food too spicy and I like to keep my foods kid-friendly for the boys.

2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery

Seasoning Mix:
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 1/2 cups Basic Seafood Stock (can substitute oyster liquor) (I use bottles of clam juice)
1 pound andouille smoked sausage (preferred) or any other good pure smoked pork sausage such as Polish sausage (kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound peeled medium shrimp
1 dozen medium to large oysters in their liquor, about 9 ounces (I use clams instead)
3/4 pound crabmeat (picked over) (crabmeat is hard to come by here, so I use crawfish)
2 1/2 cups hot cooked rice

Combine the onions, bell peppers and celery in a medium-size bowl and set aside. In a small bowl combine the seasoning mix ingredients; mix well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour, whisking constantly with a long-handled metal whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to black, about 2 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Immediately add half the vegetables and stir well (switch to a spoon if necessary). Continue stirring and cooking about 1 minute. Then add the remaining vegetables and cook and stir about 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic; stir well, then cook and stir about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place the stock in a 5 1/2-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add roux mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the andouille and return to a boil; continue boiling 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes more. Add the shrimp, undrained oysters and crabmeat. Return to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and skim any oil from the surface. Serve immediately.

To serve as a main course, mound 1/4 cup rice in the middle of each serving bowl. Spoon 1 cup gumbo over the top, making sure each person gets an assortment of the seafood and andouille. Serve half this amount in a cup as an appetizer.

I also talked about this recipe HERE.


  1. Anonymous5:08 PM

    the roux isn't the thickening agent, the roux is the base. despite gumbo or file, seafood or chicken & sausage, creole or cajun, despite all those differences, the recipe for all gumbo begins thusly "well first you start with a roux."

  2. Anonymous - Thanks for stopping by. I guess I'm confused by your statement. Roux may be considered a base in gumbo, but it does indeed serve as a thickening agent. A dark roux imparts a lot of flavor and taste (as opposed to a blonde or white roux), but it is also used to thicken. Whether you want to call it a thickener or a base, I would never make gumbo without! :)

  3. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Roux is a thickening agent, and the darker it gets, the less thickening it will do. I like to make a dark roux (cooked slow and stirred very often for about 20 minutes; can't imagine making a roux in 2 to 4 minutes w/o burning it) and have a rather thin gumbo. I love okra, which thickens some, and add a lot at the end until just done. My Louisiana family always - despite what you read - uses file' too, but we add it in the bowl as a seasoning rather than during the cooking.

  4. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Approx. how many people wil lthis recipe serve?

  5. Anon - I think this would serve 6 easily and perhaps 8 if the portions were a bit smaller.