Good Friday = Good Gumbo!

Okay, okay, I know you’re not supposed to get all festive on Good Friday. The Catholic notion (and I grew up Catholic, believe it or not) of fasting and abstinence was meant to mortify the flesh, not give us an excuse to find a better sauce for our snapper. Still, nobody said it was a sin to have flavorful meat-free offerings. And since right now I’m pretty much over the vegetarian thing (I’ll get into that later), I’m here to tell you that  Gumbo Z’Herbes, a Louisiana favorite, will definitely bring you closer to God.

In this recipe, if you don’t want to make a stock from crabs and shrimp shells, a gallon of stock with Knorr® Shrimp Flavored Bullion Cubes can be used as a substitute, however, I generally don’t advocate it. Fresh is always best.

Gumbo Z’Herbes
(from Chowhound)

Seafood Stock:

• 2 gumbo crabs and/or 1 cup shrimp shells from 1 pound shrimp
• ½ gallon water
• 1 small onion, cut up
• 2 ribs celery, cut up
• – stems from one bunch of parsley
• 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning


1. Make the stock by bringing about a gallon of water to a light boil.
2. Add all the remaining stock ingredients.
3. Return to a bare simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.
4. Strain the stock and discard all the solids.


• 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
• 1 cup bell pepper, seeded and chopped
• 1 cup celery, thinly sliced
• 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• ½ cup flour
• ½ gallon stock plus water as needed
• 2 whole bay leaves
• 1½ teaspoons Creole Seasoning
• 1¼ teaspoons dried thyme, ground
• 1 pound (35-count) shrimp, peeled and de-veined
• 2 gumbo crabs, broken in half
• 1 14½ ounce can diced tomatoes
• 1 pint fresh whole oysters
• 1 10 ounce package frozen cooked okra
• 1-2 teaspoons filé powder
• 2 green onion tops, thinly sliced, for garnish


1. Assemble the chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, parsley and garlic for the gumbo; set aside.
2. In a black cast iron pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in flour and, using a wire whisk, stir constantly until brown roux is achieved.
3. Once roux is golden brown, add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic.
4. Sauté approximately 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.
5. Slowly add the stock, and all of the seasonings except the filé powder; mix thoroughly.
6. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, add ½ pound of the raw shrimp, crabs and tomatoes, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add water as needed. Stir to prevent scorching.
7. After 30 minutes, fold the remaining ½ pound of raw shrimp, the raw oysters, okra and the reserved oyster liquid into soup.
8. Simmer until the shrimp turn pink and the oysters start to curl, about 10 minutes.
9. Remove the pot from the heat and let the simmer die down, then add the filé powder and gently stir.
10. Let the gumbo stand in the pot for 5 minutes after adding the filé, then serve over a mound of boiled rice. Garnish with the sliced green shallot tops.


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