Shrimp and Okra Gumbo from ‘Essential Emeril’

This week, we’re spotlighting recipes from Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen by Emeril Lagasse (Oxmoor House/Time Inc. Books), the celebrity chef and TV personality. Try making the recipes at home and let us know what you think!

Photograph by Iain Bagwell for Oxmoor House/Time Inc. Books

By Emeril Lagasse

Makes 6 servings

Make this rouxless gumbo, another favorite that’s quicker and simpler than using a roux, that relies on the okra to provide the thickening.

2 pounds small okra
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 quarts Shrimp Stock (recipe follows)
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cooked white rice, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

Wash the okra in cool water. Cut off the stem caps and cut the pods into 1⁄4-inch-thick rounds. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the okra and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the slime disappears, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, and green onions to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the okra and other vegetables are soft and the slime has completely disappeared, another 18 to 20 minutes.

Add the salt, cayenne, bay leaves, and stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes (see Essentials, at left).

Remove the bay leaves and serve the gumbo ladled into deep bowls over hot white rice. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Makes 2 quarts

Shrimp stock is such an easy way to add an extra layer of flavor to a seafood dish. Get in the habit of saving the shells when you have shrimp; store them in the freezer in a zip-top plastic bag, adding to it until you have enough to make stock.

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
6 cups shrimp shells (from 2 pounds medium head-on shrimp)
3 quarts water
1 small onion, cut in half
1 carrot, peeled and cut into quarters
1 rib celery, cut into quarters
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh parsley

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring, until they begin to turn pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 45 minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the top.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids. Use immediately, or let cool and store in airtight containers. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Reprinted with permission from Essential Emeril by Emeril Lagasse (Oxmoor House/Time Inc. Books).

Essential Emeril by Emeril Lagasse.

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