Hush Up…

Theme: Southern

When thinking about The South I usually immediately think about Gone With The Wind, big hoop skirt dresses and humidity. I was able to spend only a couple hours in New Orleans and it was fabulous despite the humidity. I enjoyed time in the French Quarter eating beignets (melt in your mouth deliciousness), seeing The Mississippi River and eating my fill of gumbo and grilled catfish. I was absolutely blown away at the amazing flavors that I put in my mouth. The short time I was there I concluded that a trip back is definitely needed.

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I had never eaten gumbo before and thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess if your going to eat something for the first time you may as well do it right. The downfall to that is more than likely anything gumbo not from the south is never going to compare. Fortunately for me I have a friend that lived in New Orleans and gave me some helpful tips on making a successful gumbo here in California.

To help me with this challenge I have volunteered some friends here in Cali to help prepare and give me their expert Southern tastebud opinions. I have already heard statements like “maybe you should try something easier” and “you’re never going to get it right” which for me just makes the challenge even more interesting. This should be fun!

I will say my friend got in my head a little. I mean how could I ever compare to a Louisiana grandmother, right?! While making it I had thoughts going through my head like “this is not going to come out well” and “well if all else fails we can order pizza”. And to top it off he had a friend come over that I had never met before so the pressure was on even more.

Everything turned out great though. Thumbs up all around from everyone. We even had some cheesy grits, hot water cornbread, fried green tomatoes and sweet potato casserole. When I left the house everyone looked like they were in a food coma with smiles on their faces, so I would call it a success. I hope a brought a little of Louisiana to California for them.

Ingredients
* ¼ cup vegetable oil
* 8 oz. smoked sausage, sliced
* ½ cup flour
* ¼ cup butter
* 1 onion, diced
* 3 sticks celery, chopped
* 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
* 5 tomatoes, diced and crushed
* 1 pound crab leg meat
* 1 tablespoon cajun creole seasoning
* ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
* 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
* 1 tablespoon thyme, dried
* 2 bay leaves
* 6 cups water
* 1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
* 4 green onions, chopped
* 1 teaspoon gumbo file

Directions:
1. In a dutch oven pot add the sausage and cook until browned. Set aside
2. In the same dutch oven add butter, oil and flour and combined until smooth.
3. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, for 30 minutes or until it turns a rich dark brown color.

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4. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook 10 minutes stirring frequently.
5. Add sausage, crab, cajun seasoning, chicken bouillon, paprika, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes and water.
6. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for an hour.
7. Add the shrimp, simmer for 5 more minutes.
8. Stir in file powder and green onions.
9. Add salt to taste and serve with rice.

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