Louisiana Gumbo

In this authentic gumbo recipe, chicken, crab legs, okra, and spice make a dish that's very nice.

By Molly O'Neill

“There are many versions of gumbo,” says Birt Lewis. “This is my mother’s recipe and has always received rave reviews from gumbo snobs coast-to-coast. It’s thick and rich and spicy. Eat it with rice. It’s a great dish for a crowd.”


For the gumbo:
8 whole chicken wings, rinsed
6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
1 1/2 cups okra, frozen or fresh, stemmed, cut into bite-size pieces
2 pounds Alaskan crab legs
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup  yellow onions, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper,chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 sprig fresh marjoram
1 sprig fresh tarragon
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 cups  Louisiana hot sausage, cubed
2 cups ham, cubed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup lump crabmeat, picked over to remove shell or cartilage
2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled, deveined

Ingredients for the roux:
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1 cup flour

1. In a large soup pot, over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer chicken wings and 3 cups broth. Simmer until chicken meat begins to fall off bones, about 40 minutes.  Add okra and crab legs; continue simmering for 30  minutes more. Add celery, onions, bell pepper, garlic, and herbs (tie herbs together with kitchen string if you like; it makes removing them easier). Simmer 15 minutes. Add remaining 3 cups broth, sausage, cubed ham, salt, and pepper; simmer for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low; continue simmering mixture while you make the roux.

2. To make the roux, in a heavy medium skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in  flour and continue cooking, whisking frequently, until mixture turns nut brown. Remove from heat. Whisk the roux a few tablespoons at a time into the simmering gumbo. Continue whisking in the roux until the gumbo is thick. 

3. Remove gumbo from heat;  add shrimp and lump crabmeat. Cover and let stand until shrimp are cooked through.

4. Taste the gumbo, and add additional pepper, or even chili sauce, if desired. Discard the herbs and serve the hot gumbo with rice.

Makes 8 servings

Cook’s note: Do not keep leftovers in the refrigerator for more than a day, although you can freeze leftovers for up to three months.


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