Gumbo. What’s not to love? I actually have a funny story involving gumbo, so spare me a minute.  The year was 2005, and we were flying down to see my husband’s (actually, we weren’t even engaged yet. He bought the ring on the trip!) mother in Texas. Since Norfolk’s airport has very  few direct flights, we had a layover in Charlotte, NC. There were horrible storms over Texas, so it was delaying our final leg of the stretch. We waited for hours, finally loaded onto the plain at 1 AM, only to discover that the plane was having mechanical problems and the flight was finally canceled and rescheduled for the morning.

In all the waiting and delays, we struck up conversation with a very nice gentleman whom had been to visit his mother, and was heading home. He carried with him a plastic bag, filled with 2 containers of gumbo that had been frozen in order to transport back to Texas. By 1 in the morning, it had been thawed out for hours, and the poor guy reluctantly threw it in the trash. I remember feeling bad for him, but not really understanding what all the fuss was about in the first place.

“Gumbo Guy”, I can now say that I feel your pain. A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and made this Cajun staple. I thought it would be something I’d make for the boys, but that I wouldn’t really enjoy. So wrong. The roux  is the backbone of gumbo, and adds so much depth of flavor. I’ve made this a couple of time now, once with fresh okra, and once with frozen and didn’t notice much of a difference. Some folks use okra as a thickening agent, and others use filé (ground sassafrass ro0t). But, apparently it’s a cardinal sin to use both! So, I stuck with the okra. I have some filé in my spice cabinet though, so I think I might try that next time around to see if it lends different flavor. If you’re looking for a dish to celebrate Mardi Gras, look no further. This makes enough to feed an army, and it virtually takes care of itself on the stove. Can’t beat it with a stick!


  1. Posted February 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    This sounds awesome. Kevin and I both LOVE gumbo. The spicier the better. 🙂

  2. Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

    I love a good gumbo and yours looks delicious, Laura! What a great recipe to spend time on during a cold weekend day. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Natalee
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    Is there something I can substitute for the bellpepper? I am allergic 🙁

    • Laura
      Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

      Natalee, you could certainly leave it out and add additional celery and onion. I’m sure a veggie like butternut squash would be good too, although not a true gumbo. Whatever you do, I’m sure it will be great!

  4. Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

    ahhh poor guy! that would suck. This looks fantastic.

  5. Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    What a beautiful Gumbo recipe!I love Gumbo but never made it myself.Yours look delicious!

  6. stephanie
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Do you know how much of the ground sassafras root you would need in place of okra?

    • Laura
      Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

      I’d say about 2 tablespoons. Let me know if you try it, and how it turns out! I’m anxious to try it that way myself.

  7. MGBush
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    Not to be a jerk, but why do you call this gumbo? Gumbo is a soup.. A LOT thinner than this is… This is more of a stew. Sorry, I’m Cajun and get really tired of people calling things Cajun or different cajun meals when they are not.

    • Laura
      Posted March 28, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

      This comment does come across as rather “jerkish”, but I don’t feed the trolls. Wikipedia says it’s a STEW or a soup. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  8. Sonja
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

    Just to let everyone know all gumbo is not thin. In fact the thicker the better. All Cajuns do not cook gumbo the same. I think it is nice to embrace different styles. It is like diversity!

  9. Faye Wilson
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    Good recipe. Though I frequently make gumbo, I picked up some new ideas from you. One correction, though, shrimp should never be boiled for an hour. It is delicate and will become tough and rubbery. It should be the last ingredient before the green onion and cooked no more than 3 minutes.

    • Posted February 9, 2018 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

      You know Faye, I think you’re on the money with that suggestion. I barely cook shrimp when we eat them on their own, an hour is WAY too long. Changed the recipe to reflect that. Thanks! 🙂

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