Here’s an impressive seafood- and meat-packed gumbo from executive chef Jim Mills of State Fare Kitchen & Bar, who based the recipe on his experiences in Sabine Pass, Texas. Tip: Chef Mills says you can make and chill the gumbo overnight, which greatly improves the flavor. (For 13 more great gumbos in Houston, click here.)
1 gallon water, cool
1 Tbsp. chicken base
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. flour
2 cups onion, medium dice (reserve peels and trimmings)
10 cloves garlic, fine dice
2 lb. spicy andouille sausage, cut into large dice
½ cup white wine
2½ stalks celery, medium dice (reserve leaves and trimmings)
3 green bell pepper, medium dice (reserve trimmings)
1 14-oz. can diced peeled tomatoes (reserve liquid)
1 Tbsp. black pepper, ground
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1½ lb. boneless chicken breast, skin off, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 whole blue crabs, cleaned, cut in half (reserve top shell and liquid)
2 lb. medium Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shell and liquid)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce
salt to taste
1 quart white rice, cooked
gumbo filé powder to taste
METHOD: To make the stock, place the water in a large deep pot. Add the chicken base, all the reserved vegetable peelings and the reserved shrimp and crab shells. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add the first measure of flour, stirring well. Stir continuously as the flour cooks and watch as the color changes. It will turn light brown and then deepen into a darker brown. Continue to stir until the flour is the color of a cup of strong black coffee – there will be small wisps of white smoke coming from the roux at this point.
Quickly add the second measure of flour and stir, and then immediately add the onion. Stir well so that the water the onion releases will cool the roux to prevent overcooking. After a minute, add the garlic. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the roux looks shiny, and then add the sausage. Lower the heat and stir in the white wine a bit at a time, mixing well so the gumbo will be lump-free. Increase the heat to medium and let it cook, stirring often until the liquid boils. Add the stock prepared from the seafood shells and vegetable trimmings (above) and return to a boil.
Add the celery and bell pepper, along with the tomato, black pepper, bay leaf and thyme. Let the gumbo return to a boil and then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Add the chicken breast and the cleaned crabmeat. Simmer on medium-low heat for an hour or so.
To serve, reheat the gumbo to boiling and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the shrimp, Worcestershire and hot sauce. When the shrimp are cooked through, ladle the gumbo into serving bowls, ensuring that each serving contains some crab. Serve with cooked rice and pass a bowl of filé powder for guests to use as they wish. Yield: 6 to 8 servings
State Fare Kitchen & Bar, 947 Gessner south of I-10, 832-831-0950, statefaretx.com
Hours: Mon. to Thurs. 11 am-10 pm; Fri. 11 am-11 pm; Sat. 10 am-11 pm; Sun. 10 am-10 pm