Oh yeah, baby - let the bon temps rouler! Nothing hits the spot more than a steaming hot bowl of seafood gumbo, even on an exceptionally hot (98F) June day here in SoCal. When it comes to gumbo, it's all about the roux and it's also all about the stock. The roux, which is basically equal parts flour and oil, must be cooked down until it's quite dark in color (like the color of coffee or a dark toffee), to impart a deep, smoky-nutty flavor to the gumbo. Equally important is the stock you use. For years I've always used low-sodium chicken stock plus some water and flavoring it with a bit of liquid smoke. But, after reading through Emeril Lagasses' gumbo recipe in his cookbook Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past, I decided to make a shrimp stock instead by cooking down shrimp shells, carrots, celery, black peppercorns & bay leaves in water, and that was the ticket to a really rich, authentic-tasting gumbo.
My version of seafood gumbo usually includes shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, and the untraditional ingredient of artificial crab meat. While some may frown on the idea of using "Krab" rather than "Crab," I've found it to be a really versatile ingredient (it's made from white fish and has a mild flavor) that actually improves the flavor of the stock. But, by all means, if you're a purist, you can skip this ingredient altogether. Oh, and btw, I'm a "file" kinda gal - no okra in my gumbo...
1 tbsp. flour
6 stalks celery, chopped
2 yellow or red onions, diced
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
10 cups shrimp stock
2 bottles clam juice
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 bay leaves
12 oz. Andouille or other spicy sausage (I like Aidell's 4-pack), sliced
8 oz. package of artificial crab meat
2 lbs. shrimp, shelled & deveined
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-2" pieces
1 tbsp. gumbo file (ground sassafras leaves)
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish
Steamed white rice
*Optional: Sea Scallops (cut into halves or thirds), crab (the real stuff), and/or fish such as Mahi Mahi or cod.