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Good Old Louisiana Creole Gumbo

(by Suzanne Turner)

(The recipe is adapted from two real Cajun grandmas. I’ve done my best to interpret “a pinch of this, a dash of that.”)

1 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. bacon drippings

1 c. coarsely chopped celery

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced

(I also like to use spicy Italian sausage, don’t shoot me!)

3 qt. water

6 cubes beef bouillon

1 T. white sugar

salt to taste

2 T. hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco), or to taste

1/2 t. Cajun seasoning blend (such as Tony Chachere's), or to taste

4 bay leaves

1/2 t. dried thyme leaves

14 1/2 oz. can stewed tomatoes

6 oz. can tomato sauce

2 t. gumbo file powder

2 T. bacon drippings

2 (10-oz.) packages frozen cut okra, thawed

2 T. distilled white vinegar

1 lb. lump crabmeat

3 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 t. gumbo file powder

Make a roux by whisking the flour and 3/4 c. bacon drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture.

Cook, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown color (20 - 30 minutes). Watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn.

Remove from heat, and continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Place celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped.

Stir vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage.

Bring mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 - 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring water and beef bouillon cubes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot.

Stir until bouillon cubes dissolve, and whisk the roux mixture into the boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.

Simmer over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 t. of file gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, melt 2 T. of bacon drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo.

Mix in crabmeat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes.

Just before serving, stir in 2 more t. file gumbo powder.

Serve with rice.

(Read Night of the Singing Fiddles, the story that accompanies this recipe.)

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