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Holiday Seafood Gumbo

from Seriously Simple Holidays
by Diane Rossen Worthington

Holiday Seafood Gumbo

1/2 cup canola oil or other high-heat cooking oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups chicken broth or fish stock
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons cajun creole seasoning blend
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
2 pounds large shrimp (13 to 15 per pund), peeled and deveined
1 pound lump crabmeat
1 teaspoon file powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Hot pepper for serving

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in Diane Rossen Worthington's
Seriously Simple Holidays from Chronicle Books


My friend Cj Ware tells me that while doing research in New Orleans for her novel Midnight on Julia Street, she learned that many Southerners make gumbo for the holidays. As the story goes, while you stir the roux, you think of all the family members and friends that you love and send them good wishes for the New Year. Microwaving the roux turns it the proper dark brown in a quarter of the time it needs to cook on top of the stove. The roux continues to cook as the vegetables soften end will become very dark. So think of your friends end family each time you stir the roux in the microwave.

This recipe is pretty easy to make if you have everything cut up and ready to go. You can enlist family or friends to help you and make the preparation a group activity. The dish includes the classic andouille sausage along wth shrimp and lump crabmeat. You can use shrimp alone if crabmeat is too expensive, and you can omit the sausage if serving fish eaters only. The gumbo base should be made at least 1 day ahead, and preferably 2 days in advance, for the rich flavors to enhance each other. I like to serve the gumbo in bowls with a scoop of rice in the center. I also offer warm crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

1. Make the roux: In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, stir together the oil and flour until combined, making sure no lumps remain. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Using pot holders to protect your hands, stir the roux with a wooden spoon. Repeat 3 times until the roux is dark brown or almost black (for a total of 8 minutes on high). You may need to microwave the roux for 1 minute longer. Again using pot holders, transfer the roux to a large pot.

2. Make the base: Place the pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and celery and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, bay leaves, seasoning blend, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

4. Add the sausage, shrimp, and crabmeat and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sausage and shrimp are heated through. Add the file powder and cook for 1 minute. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

5. To serve, ladle into bowls. Garnish with the parsley and pass the hot sauce at the table.

Advance preparation:
Make up to 3 days ahead through step 3, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat gently until simmering.

Recommended Wine:
This festive, spicy dish demands a fruit-driven wine to stand up to the zesty seasonings. A white with a kiss of sweetness, such as a Riesling or Gewürztraminer, will deftly tame the heat. For a red, select a Gamay, Pinot Noir, or southern Rhône with light body and soft tannin that won't clash with the spices and seafood.

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