Traditional gumbo is a labor of love and a true time commitment. This one-pot version is the perfect recipe to make on a cozy fall day at home. It still takes a few hours to come together, but it is all made in one pot to save on dishes. Serve with a scoop of rice or creamy corn grits for a comforting meal full of smoky savory flavor.
A heavy dutch oven is key for this recipe. Enameled cast iron is ideal because it holds heat well for the long cooking time, but a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan will work as well. The trick for gumbo is to let it take the time that it needs. First, the roux is made by cooking together the oil and flour to create a golden brown slurry. This starts building the nutty savory flavor that gumbo is known for, and acts as the thickening agent. This must be done over low heat and stirred frequently so it doesn’t burn. When it comes time to simmer, the longer the better. An hour is the minimum time needed for the flavors to come together, but it could go for up to two hours, again making sure to stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. Adding the shrimp in the last few minutes of cooking ensures it does not overcook and become tough.
Wild for Salmon Brown Gulf Shrimp are the perfect choice for this recipe. They are large with a bold flavor that stands up well to the other strong gumbo ingredients. They come with the shells on, and must be peeled and deveined before cooking. The tails can be left on for a pretty presentation, or removed completely. To peel the shrimp, simply slide your thumb between the shell and the meat and pull it off. To devein them, take a sharp paring knife and carefully score along the back of each shrimp. Use the tip of the knife to pull out the dark vein and discard it. It helps to have a paper towel handy to clean off your knife between each shrimp.
Homemade seafood stock is ideal for this recipe as it adds the most amount of flavor, though store bought seafood stock or even chicken stock can be used instead. The shrimp shells can be used to make a small batch of stock or stored in your freezer until you have enough for a large batch. To make the stock, add the shrimp shells or fish bones to a stock pot along with a tablespoon of olive oil, a roughly chopped onion, two roughly chopped carrots and ribs of celery, and sauté while stirring for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Add half a cup of white wine, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of salt, and enough water to cover, and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the vegetables and shells.
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Marisa Kerkvliet of Lemon Thyme Kitchen is a freelance recipe developer and food photographer with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. She was raised on her family’s farm in Northwest Washington and her appreciation for good food developed at a very early age. She is passionate about creating recipes and beautiful imagery that highlight high-quality seasonal ingredients. Marisa loves all types of seafood, but her favorites are salmon and scallops!