Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo with Microwave Roux

A gumbo made with a dark roux, a rich shrimp stock, the Trinity of vegetables, okra, shrimp and andouille sausage.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

Yes, it's another shrimp gumbo, but... what sets this one apart is that it was a "hurry up" gumbo, made with my microwave roux - pushed just a little bit further than usual - and pretty much, mostly ingredients that were straight out of the freezer!

The shrimp were frozen. The shrimp stock I had made and put up in the freezer. You can also substitute commercial seafood or chicken broth, of course. Smoked sausage is also a freezer staple I always have on hand and can be quickly thawed in the microwave. I had even actually run completely out of onion when I decided to make this gumbo - can you imagine? No worries. I always keep extra chopped onion in the freezer.

Tip: When a recipe calls for chopped onion, go ahead and chop the entire onion and bag what you don't use in a zippered freezer bag. Same with the bell pepper. Didn't have any fresh, but I always keep quartered bell pepper in the freezer - problem solved. And, of course, the okra was also frozen.

Y'all, I promise, utilize your freezer and a microwave roux, and this is a gumbo that you can actually pull together in a flash, even on a weeknight. Gotta love that.

Now... y'all know that I am typically a low and slow kinda southern cook, but I wanted to post this to show you that you can actually get a beautiful gumbo on the table with a smaller time investment. Not counting the time to clean the shrimp, which I did, and often do ahead before freezing, between prep time and cooking time, start to finish, this gumbo was probably ready to eat in under an hour.

You could potentially cut that down further by using frozen, cleaned shrimp and by prepping the ingredients and veggies ahead of time, or by using the pre-chopped gumbo mix from the produce section of your store - Guidry's is a popular one around here. And, not only that, but this really is a delicious gumbo that I'm gonna bet will take you by surprise.

I only issue one very strong caution.  Remember, whether done on the stovetop, in the oven, or in the microwave, roux is a mixture of very hot oil and flour. Hot like lava hot. Use a good solid, and reliable glass container, like a Pyrex brand 4-cup Prepware cup (that's what I use) to cook it in when making in the microwave, and use pot holders and oven mitts to handle the hot container for the stirring portion of the process. Please read over my entire microwave roux before starting just so you know how to do it and, if you decide to give it a try, I'd love if you'd come back and let me know what you think - good or bad!

Southern Style Hissy Fit Warning: I do want to say one thing about roux, that I've repeated on all of my gumbo posts. Roux can be brought anywhere from very blonde, to light tan for gravies, to peanut butter colored, or more ruddy, like a copper penny, to chocolaty brown, to deep brown, to nearly black - or anywhere in between. Bottom line is that it's really a personal preference and don't let anybody tell you that a gumbo roux has to be nearly black. That's just simply not true. While some chefs may do that, I don't know anybody who does that in a home kitchen.

For one, it weakens the thickening power of your roux substantially and makes for a very thin gumbo. For another, it's very robust and very strong flavored. For another, it can take a very long time and is easy to burn if you try to rush it with high heat. If you like that kind of bold (or if you're cooking something like wild duck), by all means, take it super dark. Most folks I know don't want that flavor for a simple chicken or seafood gumbo and take the roux from peanut butter colored to a slightly darker brown. While we are here let me add, if you're gonna put crab in your seafood gumbo, and you want to call it authentic to the Gulf Coast region, it's blue crab. Not snow crab.

As always with any gumbo, as delicious as it is day 1, it's even better the next day, so make it ahead whenever you can.

For more of my favorite gumbo recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


Recipe: Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings


For the Roux:
  • 3/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
For the Gumbo:
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 quarts commercial or homemade shrimp stock, at room temperature
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 pound andouille or other smoked sausage, chopped, optional
  • 3 cups sliced okra
  • Perfect steamed rice
  • Hot sauce, for the table, optional

Important: Please review the cautions and directions on my microwave roux before starting.

Combine the oil and flour in a large, 4 cup or larger, Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup - or other safe, high heat glass pot. Whisk together until smooth and microwave on high for 3 minutes; remove and stir. Microwave another 3 minutes; remove and stir, continuing this process in 30 second increments until the roux reaches a caramel color, stopping and stirring several times in between. Total time will actually depend on your microwave wattage, but generally it takes about 10 minutes to get to this point.

Peel and devein shrimp; hold in refrigerator. Carefully transfer the roux to large, heavy bottomed pot, and heat over medium high. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper and celery and cook, stirring constantly until vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook another minute. Slowly stir in the shrimp stock until fully incorporated.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, pepper, Creole or Cajun seasoning and thyme; bring to a boil, reduce heat to just under medium, and let simmer covered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if adding sausage, add the 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil to a separate skillet, and heat over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Transfer to gumbo pot. To the drippings in skillet, add the okra; cook and stir until lightly browned. Transfer to gumbo pot, add shrimp, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve over hot cooked rice and pass a bottle of hot sauce at the table for some extra kick. Serve with some hot, buttered French rolls and a side of gumbo potato salad.

Cook's Notes: Roux may also be prepared stovetop in a skillet. Gumbo is a dish that only improves with advance preparation, so make it ahead of time if possible. The flavors really need time to settle and mellow. It's always better the next day. Prepare, let cool and skim any accumulated oil off the top before storing.

Remember, if you are using andouille or another hot smoked sausage, go light on any additional Creole/Cajun seasoning. Add a little, taste and adjust. If you are using a regular smoked sausage, you will likely want to use a bit more Cajun seasoning. Again, use a little, taste and adjust. Can also substitute chicken stock or broth, or plain water for the seafood stock.

About Okra and Gumbo filé: I used pre-sliced, frozen okra for gumbo. Gumbo filé, or filé powder, is a seasoning made from ground sassafras leaves and tastes a bit like savory and thyme mixed together. It is often stirred into gumbo at the end of cooking (but never boiled) to act as a thickener as a substitute for okra, or when fresh okra is out of season. Besides thickening, it also imparts a unique flavor to the gumbo, so even when using okra I often still like to sprinkle a little into each serving bowl.


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©Deep South Dish
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Check These Gumbo Recipes Out Too Y’all!

Seafood Gumbo with Shrimp, Crab and Oyster
Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Turkey Carcass Gumbo

Posted by on March 2, 2011
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  1. I still have some items in the freezer from our trip to NOLA, so I need to make something Cajun soon.

  2. I am so intrigued by a microwave roux. The convenience just about blows my mind. Your gumbo has me drooling.

  3. I'm sure that you'll come up with a winner Larry!

    Kristen, let me know if you venture out and try it!

  4. Sounds easy to put together and looks scrumptious! My mouth is drooling over my keyboard!

  5. I love the freezer tips, I'm going home to cut up my veggies after work!! anne

  6. Mary, I'm getting ready to plow through your recipes. My hubby lived in New Orleans for over 7 years and it's been awhile since he has been back. We've tried several times to go visit (I've never been there) and life always gets in the way. I decided this year I wanted to fix him a few dishes he would be enjoying there during Mardi Gras if he were there now. This shrimp gumbo is going on my list since I know he will love it. I'll be searching for me.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    I'm hungry now!


  7. Thanks Mary, this recipe is great! We sampled many gumbo's at a cook-off on Dauphin Island in Sept 2010. This recipe for sausage & shrimp gumbo tastes exactly like our favorite from the contest. I've made it a few times since then, shenever my husband requests it!

  8. This recipe is a hit with my family. I've made it four or five times now. In fact, when I'm wanting a visit from my parents and two little sisters who still live at home, I know all I have to say is that I'm making gumbo, and they all show up for dinner. :) I absolutely love the convenience of the microwave roux, too. Thanks, Mary!

    1. You're so welcome Shelley! Thanks especially for taking the time to come back by and leave a comment to let me know that you've been using the recipe. I really appreciate the feedback!!

  9. I've made this four or five times now, and my family loves it! In fact, I have learned that if I'm missing my parents and my two little sisters who still live at home, all I have to do is say I think I'm going to make gumbo this weekend, and Sunday dinner is suddenly at my house! I love the convenience of the microwave roux, especially since my toddler doesn't let me stand over the stove for long periods at a time. Thanks, Mary, for making a great dish that works for both me and my family! :)

  10. 2# peeled shrimp or 2# head-on shrimp?

    1. Hey Dalton! I always base my shrimp on headless but unpeeled because that's how I freeze it. You'll want about 2 pounds of headless shrimp, weighed after heading, but before peeling. It's really kinda relative though. If you're buying frozen, already peeled shrimp, go with the 2 pounds - whatever your budget will allow.

  11. I buy peeled shrimp from Quality Seafood for gumbo and shrimp creole. Prefer a small shrimp rather than medium. Very little weight in shell and tail but heads.are about 1/3 the weight of a shrimp. Thanks for the reply. Enjoy your recipes. This looks like a very good gumbo recipe and I plan to try it.

    1. Thanks! Hope you enjoy this method - it will take some watching for the first time since all microwaves differ in how they cook, but it's great shortcut.


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