2 pounds tail-on shrimp
3 slices bacon
4 onions, fine-chopped in food processor
4 cloves garlic, fine-chopped, but don't do them same time as onion
2 bay leaves
6 plump Padron peppers, fine-diced (scoop out the seeds, lazy version is fine). This is my California brainstorm, and it was SO GOOD. Otherwise, green bell peppers are fine.
1 Teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Coconut Sugar
2 Tablespoons of salt
Lots of black pepper
2 pounds fresh young okra, not fuzzy yet (I bet you could use frozen)
2 Tablespoons olive or avocado oil
1 ham bone or ham shank, (Definitely pork with a bone it it. Just size of a small hand is fine).
6 chicken wings
1 pound boneless veal, cut into 1 inch cubes. (You can get butchers to cut up veal chops for you like this, and keep bones for your doggie or broth).
Couple splashes of vermouth
1 bunch of Italian parsley, finely-chopped
Large can of your favorite Italian tomatoes, or 4 fresh ones, cored, or a baggie full of fresh ones you froze last season... they'll melt in nicely.
½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (yes, that much)
Fresh Juice of one lemon
2 cups of fresh oysters, shucked, with liquor, or, EASY: two of those deli-cold jars of fresh oysters
1 can or 1 cup of fresh shredded crab meat
1 tsp. Filé Powder
Once the gumbo is prepared, you ladle it over cooked white rice or-- cooked cauliflower rice, where you put a head of Cauli in the food processor and blitz it to grain-like bits. Then you can saute it or steam it cooked in just five minutes.
Extra Naughty Option: Serve over waffles. You can make those paleo too-- or gluten free-- or whatever you want. I had some store "green" waffles made out of spinach, egg whites, and fruit pulp.
CRITICAL: Get one of those La Crueset or other *enameled* Cast Iron stewpots. Lodge brand is fine too. You will use this over and over and over again; it is MAGIC. It will never burn your recipes, those special ones that cannot that survive burnt bits.
If you don't use enameled cast iron to cook your gumbo, your chances of fucking it up go WAY UP.
1. Okay, get all the chopped things ready and all the meat defrosted. Have all the spices and canned things you need laid out in front of you. Once you have everything lined up, it goes easy.
2. For the OKRA: cut off the top and tail, then even rings about ½ inch wide. Put them in a bath of apple cider vinegar. I'm sure any vinegar would do. DO THIS FIRST, so they can just soak in vinegar til you're ready.
3. Pull off the shrimp tails and put them in a pot of water that covers them. Put the shrimps on a plate for later.
4. Boil the shrimp tails for five minutes and put that liquid aside. You can toss the shells, but for the moment, just let it sit until you need the pot liquor.
5. Fry the bacon in your kettle and set it aside on paper towels, leaving the fat in the kettle.
6. Add your finely diced onions and peppers and saute on low heat for quite a while, stirring, on low heat. If you use the pot I described, you can be lazy and inattentive about the stirring. You want them to get golden brown, and I do NOT mean beige. Golden brown, like caramel.
7. Add the garlic, herbs, coconut sugar, salt and pepper, and saute on low heat, it until the garlic is fragrant.
8. Drain the cut-okra from its vinegar bath and add them to the mirepoix in the kettle. Saute on low-medium flame.
9. While the okra is mellowing, get out a big skillet and brown all your meats: the veal, the ham/bone, and the chicken wings, on medium high heat, with a little oil in the pan so they dont' stick. When they're nicely seared, add all the meats to the pot of okra and veggies.
10. Turn your pot down to its lowest setting, while you're putting together the last ingredients. Keep stirring it around every time you introduce a new ingredient.
11. Drain the extra grease from the fry skillet, and deglaze it with a couple splashes of vermouth or white wine. Add that to big pot. (Why not make a martini with the vermouth too).
12. Now add to the pot: your shelled-shrimp, the shrimp-boil water (discard the shells), the parsley, the tomatos, Tabasco, W-sauce, lemon juice, and oysters with liquor. -- Add a can or little cup of shredded crab meat. Break up the bacon into bits that you fried before, and throw that into pot. The whole while, your gumbo is on lowest flame.
The whole trick with gumbo is DON'T BURN IT. That's why the enameled pot is your foolproof method. If you think you are in danger of burning or getting charred bits, yank it off the stove and start in a new pot.
13. Once everything is in the pot, bring to a boil and immediately turn it all down low, stirring, and cook for 2.5 hours. You can come in every half hour or so and give it a poke around.
When you see foam or extra fat pooled at the top, just skim it off, by
"wiping" the surface of the stew with a piece of bread or a paper towel. Or the waffle!
14. The chemistry changes so much as it's cooking, it's like a different meal every time you taste it. Now's your chance to think about more salt or not.
15. Bring to boil ONE MORE TIME, at the very end and abruptly SHUT off the heat. Then add a teaspoon of filé gumbo powder, which is sassafrass. Do not boil the gumbo again, after you stir in the filé.
16. Serve in a big bowl on top of a little rice or steamed riced-cauliflower. I like the rice-cauli BETTER! Or soak up with the waffles.Baby, that's good. That is the best gumbo you ever had.
Serves 6 people who have seconds and polish it OFF.