Spicy Red File-Thickened Gumbo With Shrimp and Andouille
On Fat Saturday, the big Milanese "bacchanal" we served succotash, Southern greens, this Shrimp-Andouille gumbo and king cake. Then we loosened our belts and collapsed on the sofa. The gumbo recipe says it's for 8 people and since there were 9 of us, I figured I'd just eat a little bit. Well, after the greens and succotash as a primo piatto served with my homemade bread all 9 of us got through about half the gumbo if that. And then we exercized our gurgitational muscles on the king cake (recipe to appear around Wednesday).
In a sense I started making Saturday's gumbo on a visit to my local food co-op in early January. The precious Andouille was frozen in my parents' Frigidaire and then shipped in my checked luggage (along with dried epazote, corn husks for tamales yet to be made and reasonably priced aspirin) over to Italy and then re-frozen back here in Milan. I was a bit worried about poisoning someone with potentially tainted Andouille with the double thawing and the air travel and all, but as I write this 2 days later, nobody's called with stomach complaints so I guess all went well.
The gumbo recipe comes straight from David Rosengarten's Dean & DeLuca Cookbook, a great tome that offers classic dishes next to modern spin-off dishes that it seems Rosengarten & co. developed themselves. This "Spicy Red File-Thickened Gumbo With Crawfish and Andouille" is one of the classics.
Here's the dish:
Marinate 2 pounds of peeled crawfish or shrimp with:
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder (I didn't have any so I just mashed one clove to a paste)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder (left this out since I didn't have any)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Leave this mixture in the fridge for 2 hours while you prepare the rest of the dish.
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 cups minced: onion, celery, red bell pepper
1 cup minced scallions
9 cups crawfish, shrimp or chicken stock*
2 28 oz. cans of tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsps dried thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves (I was too lazy to grind them and too afraid to leave them whole and end up swallowing them, so I left them out)
1/2 tsp Louisiana hot sauce (I left the hot sauce for the guests to sprinkle on themselves)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice
1 lb andouille sausage
2 tbsps file powder (It's a thickener)
4 cups cooked rice as an accompaniment
whole boiled crawfish for garnish (I got 1 4 inch long langostino (or something) per person)
I heated the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, then added the flour and allowed to turn a reddish brown while constantly stirring, about 7-10 minutes. This oil-flour mixture is called a roux. Once the roux was brown, I added all the minced vegetables and fried them for 5 minutes while I heated the stock (I used half chicken and half shrimp). Once the stock got to the boiling point, I added the vegetable-roux mixture by large spoonfuls and mixed. I added the tomatoes along with their juice, the herbs, spices and lemon juice. I raised the heat to bring the soup to a boil, then lowered it to keep it at a simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered. Then I added the andouille sausage and let simmer another 20 minutes. Music to simmer gumbo by: "Lester Bowie's Gumbo Stew" by jazz artist, Ari Brown. I guarantee, you'll be wiggling your hips to this one. I added the spiced shrimp and langostinos and cooked another 5 minutes. I took the pot off the heat and added the file powder and stirred until the soup thickened to a point halfway between chicken soup and Italian tomato sauce. I got 9 wide, low bowls, placed a scoop of cooked basmati rice (didn't have medium grain) at the bottom and poured the soup over. I fished out a langostino and placed it on top to make a lovely presentation (that I was too embarrassed to take a picture of in front of my guests, so you all are left with the murky pic above).
*If you peel the shrimp yourself, you can make the most delicious stock by simmering it with a mirepoix in enough water to cover.