New Orleans Shrimp Sausage Gumbo should really be a food category on its own. It has an intense, complicated flavor that comes from making a patiently toasted roux, cajun spices, shrimp stock and finally okra which makes this thick, rich stew even better. This is a weekend project that's totally worth the time you'll spend on it because a big pot of this will bring the best kind of satisfaction.
We are taking a little detour from MFS's regular recipe style which is fast and easy, to share with you a slightly complicated, time consuming recipe. But but but don't close the window yet because trust me when I say - you WILL want to try this New Orleans sausage shrimp gumbo! It is one of those recipes that should be a weekend project like my chicken biryani or dal makhani and are 100% worth the time and effort you put into them. Plus they last for days so you can enjoy them till you've really had your fill.
On our last trip to the U.S. we had the famous gumbo and I was hooked. The deep, complex flavors of this soul satisfying stew have stayed with me. And I've tried my best to recreate from what I remember. I don't claim that this is the most authentic gumbo but its a recipe that everyone I've made it for so far loves.
Quick Walk Through: New Orleans Shrimp Sausage Gumbo
I'll break this down into steps so that the recipe is easier to follow and attempt.
You only need one piece of equipment to successfully make gumbo and that's a dutch oven or any other heavy bottomed pot. And the reason is that these avoid the roux and the gumbo from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Making the Roux for Gumbo
Making the roux for gumbo is probably the most complicated and the most essential step of the recipe if you want to make your gumbo from scratch. I recommend leaving everything else, and concentrating on this one task till it's over.
A roux is a base thats usually created with oil/butter and flour. A roux for bechamel sauce (white sauce) is usually light in color where the flour is cooked in butter for a minute or two. But for a gumbo, equal parts of fat and flour are cooked for anywhere between 20-30 minutes. I prefer the 20 minute roux.
Start by heating oil or butter (I used a combination) and adding flour. Keep stirring the flour fairly regularly so that it doesn't stick to the bottom or start burning - its important to keep moving it around, till it changes color from light to a deep golden brown (like the color of peanut butter). For me, this happened at the 20 minute mark. You can take it farther and cook it for 30 minutes to get a deep milk chocolate color but the gumbo tends to be thinner in that case. Here's how the color will change (these are just screenshots from the video I made to demonstrate this recipe and I recommend you watch the video for detailed instructions).
Mise En Place
Once your roux is ready, quickly gather the rest of your ingredients. I recommend getting mise en place ready in advance. This means dicing the onions, celery, capsicum, chopping the sausages, cleaning the shrimp etc. So that everything is at arm's length when you start the recipe.
The Stock for Gumbo
I think this is as essential as the roux. The stock you choose will help determine some of the flavors in this gumbo. Since this is a shrimp sausage gumbo, I recommend using shrimp stock which is really easy to prepare at home - just boil the head, tail or any part of the shell in water for 40-60 minutes and drain. Your shrimp stock is ready. But if that's effort you don't want to take, use chicken stock for this recipe.
Okra in Gumbo
This is a highly debatable ingredient. Most authentic gumbo recipes will use okra in their recipe because it is native to the region where gumbo originates, and is a natural thickener. Since we are cooking our roux so much (the deeper the color of the roux, the lesser its thickening abilities), the gumbo needs an additional thickener which comes from okra or lady finger (as we refer to it here in India). Some people dislike it because of its slimy texture but okra is only slimy if its not cooked properly. Here's how to cook okra so it is not slimy As it cooks, it completely loses the slime and just becomes vegetable that's soft and almost creamy.
Gumbo is essentially served with rice, but I'm one of those who loves dipping a slice of crusty bread in it. But you are the boss of your gumbo so take your pick - rice, potatoes or bread.
Other Gumbo Variations
There are different variations you can do while making gumbo. Just use the same base, spices and vegetables and experiment with other ingredients you have on hand.
- Chicken Sausage Gumbo
- All Seafood Gumbo
- Sausage Seafood Gumbo
- Crawfish Gumbo
- Turkey Gumbo
This is really one of those recipes that seems complicated the first time. But the second time you try it, you'll be cooking like a boss! And for those leftovers, you will attempt it again and again.
Watch how to make Shrimp Sausage Gumbo Video Recipe
New Orleans Shrimp Sausage Gumbo
- ¼ cup Canola Oil
- 3 tablespoons Butter
- ½ cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 Bayleaf
- 1 cup White Onions finely chopped
- 1 cup Celery finely chopped
- 1 cup Capsicum finely chopped (green bell pepper)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic
- 4 cups Low sodium Shrimp Stock
- ½ cup Crushed Tomatoes / tomato puree
- ½ cup Homemade Cajun Seasoning see Note 6 below
- 5-6 Andouille Sausages diced diagonally
- 2 cups Okra diced
- 15-20 Shrimp medium
- Salt to taste
- Parsley chopped (for garnishing)
- Start by preparing the roux. Heat oil and butter in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and add flour. Cook the flour while stirring fairly regularly on a medium flame for 20 minutes till it gradually deepens in color to the color of peanut butter. It's important to keep stirring so that the flour doesn't stick to the bottom or burn (watch the video above to see how the flour changes color as it cooks).
- Once the roux has reached the desired color, add the bayleaf, onions, celery and capsicum and stir for two to three minutes till the onions are tender. Add garlic and slowly start adding shrimp stock while stirring continuously till the mixture thickens a little and comes to a boil.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, cajun seasoning and salt (if using) along with sausages and okra. Mix this well and bring this to a boil. Once the stew starts boiling, reduce the flame and cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes or till the okra is cooked and not slimy anymore.
- Add shrimp to the pot, simmer for 8-10 minutes and turn off the flame. (if using smaller or larger sized shrimp, cooking time will vary slightly). Top with chopped parsley and serve hot. This gumbo keeps for days and leftovers taste even better!
- Don't burn the roux: If you don't have a heavy bottomed pot, make the roux in a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan and then transfer it to a regular soup pot. The key is to keep the flour from burning or sticking to the bottom.
- Green Bell Peppers: I love the taste and flavor that green bell peppers add. They add a sharpness without being spicy. Avoid using yellow or red bell peppers because they are sweeter in taste.
- Sausages: My favorite sausages to use in gumbo are andouille but if you can't get your hands on them, use any variety of pork sausages you like.
- Shrimp Stock: Shrimp stock makes this gumbo really flavorful. Its best made at home and is really easy to make. Just cook shrimp heads and tails in water and then strain them and reserve the liquid.
- Okra: If you plan to skip the okra, your gumbo will not be as thick. If your okra is over ripened, it will take longer to cook.
- Cajun Seasoning: We use homemade cajun seasoning without the salt so that its easy to adjust salt in the recipe. However, if you are using store bought seasoning, reduce the cajun seasoning to 2 tablespoons, taste and then add more.