Not N’awlins Andouille & Seafood Gumbo

Imagine a travel moment to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, San Jose, California; now take a comfortable seat at our cozy table, and enjoy a scrumptious hearty sized bowl of spicy Gumbo. Take in the savory fragrance of perfectly balanced herbs and spices of old Cajun cuisine, and then delight your taste-buds with generous chunks of delicacies from the sea, with just enough spicy heat to tickle your tongue and throat. The only sounds you’ll hear around you are spoons clinking against bowls, understated slurping and yummy smacking!

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You can blindfold a connoisseur of Cajun gastronomy from Louisiana and bring him to San Jose, California, but when he eats this Gumbo he’ll swear he never left home. But I hereby promise that though we’ve dared to jazz and tweak Paul Prudhomme’s original recipe, we have committed no sacrilege here; we have but practiced pure alchemy! Chef Prudhomme still is, and always will be, the undisputed genius of Cajun cookery.

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Gumbo is a very intricate dish, time consuming to put together, to say the least, but in the end so worth the time and effort to do.

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Come; take a comfortable seat at our cozy table. Dinner is served!

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This recipe serves a large crowd; enough for 12 hearty servings. And recipe can easily be cut in half.

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STEPS 1 (prepping raw seafood):

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Note 1:  Keep all seafood refrigerated until ready to use.

2 pounds medium shrimps with heads on

2 pounds large shrimps/prawns no heads on

2-2½ pounds lobster tails (with shells)

2-2½ pounds halibut steaks (with bone-in)

Shell the shrimps (devein if needed) and lobster tails, and debone and skin (discard skin) the halibut steaks, reserving the shells and the shrimp heads and fish bones for stock in steps 2. Put the seafood away individually, in [preferably] glass ware, and cover with very damp (but not dripping wet) paper towels in the fridge until ready to use.

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STEPS 2 (Stock):

6 cups chicken stock

3 cups (3 8-oz bottles) clam juice

1 cup cream sherry

2 bay leaves

Reserved shells, shrimp heads and fish bones from steps 1

In a large-enough pot place these next ingredients and bring to a quick boil and stir to make sure shells and bones are bathing in the liquid. Keeping a light simmer going, cover pot and simmer for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. When the stock is done, strain and discard shells and bones, set aside the stock and continue with the next steps.

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STEPS 3 (spices):

Note 2:  Have these spices and flour mixed and ready for use in steps 4.

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons sea salt or gray salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons chipotle powder

5 tablespoons Gumbo Filé powder

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

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STEPS 4 (making roux):

Note 3:  In a large, heavy [cast-iron or Dutch oven] pot lightly brown 2-pounds Andouille sausage (about 4-large links), cut into 1-inch pieces. Set cooked sausage aside to use in steps 5, and reserve grease in same pot.

Note 4:  In the same pot fry 1-pound [apple wood] bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces. Save bacon for use in some other dish, but reserve the rendered bacon grease in same pot.

Rendered sausage and bacon grease from note 3&4 (about 1/2-cup total)

1/2 cup (1-cube) butter

2 carrots, shredded

2 medium onions, chopped

4 ribs of celery, chopped

3 medium bell peppers, seeded and chopped

6 large garlic cloves

Spice mixture from steps 3

2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce

2½ cups marinara sauce

Prepared stock from steps 2

Cooked Andouille from steps 4

  • On the large burner, on medium, heat rendered fats and butter to sizzling; add vegetables (carrots through garlic), and cook until onions are translucent.
  • Turn heat to high and add the spice mixture. Cook mixture for about 6 minutes, scraping and stirring constantly (per Chef Paul Prudhomme). You want those browned bits but do not let the vegetable mixture burn.
  • Immediately turn the heat down to medium and carefully add the hot sauce and marinara sauce. Stir to blend well.
  • Add the stock and Andouille, and bring to a quick boil. Lower heat to an obvious light bubbling simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.

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STEPS 5 (putting the gumbo together):

Boned halibut from steps 1, cut into [roughly] 2-inch squares

Shelled lobster tails from steps 1, cut into [roughly] 2-inch squares

Shelled shrimps from steps 1

3 pints oysters with their liquor

2 pounds lump crab (picked through for shells)

Uncover gumbo pot and on high-heat bring back to a quick boil. When boiling, add in following order:

  • Halibut, scatter evenly,  stir gently, and wait for bubbles to emerge, continue
  • Lobster, scatter evenly, stir gently, and wait for bubbles to emerge, continue
  • Shrimp, scatter evenly, stir gently, and wait for bubbles to emerge, continue
  • Oysters with liquor, pour evenly, stir gently, wait for bubbles to emerge, cover pot, turn off heat, and let sit about 10-15 minutes for seafood to cook through.

To serve:  Add some steamed [Jasmine] white rice in a deep bowl, with a portion of the lump crab, and then ladle a hearty serving of the very hot gumbo over. We also garnished our gumbo with slices of deep fried okra, jalapeño and serrano peppers. Enjoy!

Cook with heart; eat with gusto. Buen Provecho!

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