Back in Memphis, we had a cooking team called “Boogie-T-Roux & the Mempho Crew.” We cooked gumbo along side teams from Louisiana, Mississippi, and even some self-proclaimed Gar enthusiasts from Arkansas. The best we ever managed was a third place finish, but considering we were going up against some of the best reastaurants in town, we thought that was pretty good. This recipe isn’t really a gumbo; Chef Patout calls it “Shrimp Creole.” He also refers to it as “jambalaya.” I adapted this recipe from Patout’s Cajun Home Cooking by Alex Patout (Random House, 1986). I don’t see any reason why one couldn’t incorporate a roux into this and call it “gumbo.”
2 pounds shrimp ; head on
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon White pepper ; ground
1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Red pepper ; ground
1 tablespoon Corn oil
1 pound Andouille sausage ; diced (or any good smoked sausage)
1 onion ; chopped
4 garlic ; minced
2 stalks Celery ; chopped
1 pound okra, sliced (frozen is fine)
1 sweet pepper ; chopped
28 ounces canned tomatoes
5 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Basil ; dried
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving heads and shells. Season shrimp with red, white, and black peppers, some garlic powder, and onion powder too. Set aside.
Throw shrimp heads and peels into a stock pot. Cover with water and begin heating. Simmer for at least a half hour.
In large pot, heat up a bit of oil; add sausage pieces and cook until nicely browned. Remove sausage and set aside.
Add onions to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes. Add okra, stirring constantly until most of the “strings of slime” disappear. Add celery, green peppers and garlic. Cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook until heated through, and all the vegetables are tender.
Strain the shrimp stock and add to the cook pot. Add basil, thyme, sugar, and bay leaf. Correct the seasoning with additional red, white, and black pepper if needed. Stir in the cooked sausage. Continue simmering about 20 minutes or so. Bring to a high simmer, and add shrimp. Cook just until shrimp turn pink.
Serve over rice with file powder as a garnish.