Daytime Kitchen: New Orlean's Creole Story Pot

Culinary Storyteller, Shawanda Marie, joins us today with a lesson in Creole

ROANOKE – Culinary Storyteller, Shawanda Marie, joins us today with a lesson in Creole cooking and culture. Learn more about the cooking experiences she offers and she shares a tasty recipe:

Filé Gumbo
1 cup oil
1 cup flour
2 medium onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 ribs celery, finely diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 quarts shrimp or seafood stock
Diced ham or tasso to preferred amount
round sliced smoked sausage to preferred amount
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 blue crabs, cleaned (optional based on availability)
1 pound fresh or canned claw crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 tablespoon filé powder
8 cups cooked long-grain white rice

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil on low to medium heat and add the flour. Stir constantly until a peanut butter or milk chocolate colored brown roux is formed, then add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté until the onions become translucent and the vegetables are tender. Add the seasonings and about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and continue to cook another 10 minutes. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook another 30 minutes. Brown your sausage and ham, then add to stock. (If you wish a more authentic gumbo, you may add blue crabs. Remove the hard top shell from the crabs (reserving for stuffed crabs or for shellfish stock), and break each crab in two down the middle. Add to the stock.) With the gumbo on very low heat, add the shrimp 10 minutes before serving, and the crab meat just before serving (don't cook the crab meat, just stir until it is heated through). Taste and correct seasonings as you go.
Add filé powder to gumbo last by removing from heat and sprinkling the filé powder on the surface of the gumbo, then cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Then uncover and stir to mix.  
Place about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of rice in each bowl and ladle the gumbo over and around it. Serve with plenty of french bread, potato salad and good beer or white wine.
YIELD: About 10-12 entrée servings or 20-24 appetizer servings (omit hard shell crabs if serving cups of gumbo as an appetizer).