Sausage and Okra Gumbo

We can have an argument about ‘authenticity’ if you like, but I believe that ‘authentic’ gumbo is whatever you happen to like (and have on hand).  Having been in Texas for so long, we are partial to beef smoked sausage, and with other roots in the Dirty South, we try to work okra into as many dishes as possible.  Sure, some shrimp or lump crab meat would have been good, too, but those ingredients are fairly expensive in Chicago!

In my book, gumbo ought to be po’ folk food, so if it starts to get expensive or glamorous, you’re doing it wrong.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bacon drippings
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 bell pepper, diced fine
  • 1 rib celery, diced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. beef smoked sausage, sliced
  • 5 cups beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tbls sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbls Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 (6 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. package of chopped, frozen okra
  • 1 tbls white vinegar
  • 1 tbls Worcestershire sauce

Process

  1. Heat bacon drippings over medium heat in a large stockpot.  Whisk in flour to make a roux, stirring constantly until a medium-light-brown color is reached (mahogany?).  This may take 20 minutes or more – watch the heat and stir frequently to avoid burning the roux.
  2. Stir in vegetables and saute for a few minutes, until softened.  Add in sausage, stir, and heat through, until fat begins to render.
  3. Add in stock and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add in sugar, salt, hot sauce, seasoning blend, bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.
  4. After the hour, heat 1 tbls of oil or bacon drippings in a skillet, add okra and salt to taste, and saute until heated through.  Add vinegar and Worcestershire and continue to saute for a few minutes.
  5. Remove okra from skillet with slotted spoon and add to gumbo.  Simmer for as long as you can stand it, but at least for 20 minutes more.  Serve over cooked rice and with fresh French bread.
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