Friday, September 17, 2010

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

There is something deeply satisfying about Cajun gumbo. The rich flavor from the deep roux is amazing, there isn't any other way to describe it. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon to New Orleans I was in absolute heaven.

I'm fortunate enough to have a sister-in-law who is from Louisiana, and one of the first times we visited her and my brother-in-law at their home in Texas she made gumbo. I had never eaten gumbo before and was instantly hooked. She gave me the recipe and I didn't even have to beg. Thanks, Vee! :)

What elevates gumbo to a level above your regular soup is the roux, a slow-cooked mixture of fat and flour. Some people use shortening, or even butter (though butter's not recommended for the long cooking required to make this dark of a roux), but I like to use canola oil. As the fat/flour mixture cooks it starts to develop a nutty aroma and flavor, and as it cooks to a beautiful dark caramel color the nutty flavor intensifies. I should warn you that because the mixture is so hot it will smoke a little as it cooks, so plan on having fans on and a couple windows open. And plan on stirring, a lot. A roux isn't something you can leave unattended.

Before getting to the recipe, I have to say something about the shrimp I used. I live in Utah, which means there are no fresh shrimp to be found, and I've been disappointed by every brand of frozen shrimp I've used, until now. While at the store I noticed a bag of Chicken of the Sea brand frozen shrimp. Even though it gave me a little chuckle, it was a brand I hadn't tried before and I really wanted to make gumbo.

Let me tell you I was pleasantly and wonderfully surprised. The shrimp were very, very good. I bought a 2 pound bag of large (16/20 shrimp per pound) peeled, cleaned, raw shrimp with the tail on. After defrosting the shrimp in the sink in a bowl of cold water and rinsing away all the little bits of stuff, the tails came off easily leaving big, gorgeous shrimp, ready to cook.

Shrimp cook very fast, so it was just 2 or 3 minutes in the finished hot soup and they were done. Tender, sweet, and delicious. I was so excited! Now I can work my list of recipes I thought were lost to me for lack of decent shrimp. Yay!

Note: I may have committed a gumbo faux pas by combining shrimp and sausage. I think traditionally you have shrimp gumbo or chicken and sausage gumbo, but not usually shrimp and sausage. This gumbo was really tasty, but if it offends your Cajun sensibilities, you can omit the sausage.

I served this with corn bread, pan-roasted green beans, and white rice.

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
printable recipe

1 14-oz link smoked sausage (I used light)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 large bell pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
8 cups chicken broth or water or some combination of both (I used half/half)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds peeled, cleaned raw shrimp with tails removed (16/20 size)
hot cooked white rice for serving

1. Heat your oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick spray. Cut the sausage link in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake until browned, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

2. While the sausage is cooking, combine the oil and flour in a large pot and mix well. Heat over medium heat until the roux is a deep caramel color, stirring very often, 30-35 minutes.

3. While the roux is cooking, put the celery, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse 2 times for 3 seconds each time and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pulse 2 more times, 3 seconds each time, scraping down the bowl after each pulse. The veggies should be finely minced but not pureed.

4. Add the veggies to the roux and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes (the roux is very hot, please watch for splatters when you add the veggies).

5. Add the browned sausage, broth/water, salt, pepper, and Tony's seasoning. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

6. Add the green onion and shrimp, and cook 2-3 minutes or until they are just barely pink (they will continue to cook as they sit in the hot soup, so don't overdo it here). Serve over white rice.

This makes a ton of gumbo. We easily get two meals out of a pot.

Beautiful, tender shrimp is a glorious thing.


  1. This sounds like such a delicious creation. Your photos of the dish at various stages of completion are really great and your instructions are clear cut and easy to follow. I love the food and recipes you feature here. It is always fun to visit. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. That gumbo looks delicious! Unfortunately my husband has a shellfish allergy, so I can't make anything with shrimp. But the amazing thing about cooking blogs is that I can live vicariously through other peoples' cooking!

  3. @Mary, thanks for your comment! I'm glad you continue to visit :)
    @Beth, it was so delicious! Try making it with chicken and sausage, it's also delicious :)


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