Perk up your appetite for gumbo ahead of Championship

September 11, 2013 

Gumbo means okra, but today gumbo is best known as a stew.

Just like its name, gumbo means different things to different folks. Some say seafood gumbo contains only seafood; others disagree. Some, like my husband, prefer chicken and sausage gumbo with oysters in it. Still others, like my late grandmother, loved to put cracked crab legs and bodies in hers along with the shrimp and okra.

At The Sun Herald's Gumbo Championship on Sunday, professional and amateur cooks will be stirring up what gumbo means to them. Believe me, each gumbo will be different. I judged a gumbo contest several years ago. There were 23 entries and 23 different gumbos.

Part of the Biloxi Seafood Festival, the gumbo cook-off will start at 11:30 a.m. on the Town Green in Biloxi. The festival is Saturday and Sunday.

To whet the appetites, I am sharing some readers' recipes and one by the late Justin Wilson that I have had in my files for years.

"Here is the gumbo recipe I use for parties or to put in the freezer," said Ed Walker of D'Iberville, who uses chicken parts in his gumbo. "This recipe is party size, so you can cut back as needed."



1 bag chicken legs and thighs

(The day before making gumbo, boil with salt, pepper, celery or celery seed, and onion. Remove the meat from the bones and cook the bones again in the stock for another hour; strain and save the stock; be sure to use enough water to have at least 3 gallons

of stock. Chicken and stock go in the gumbo. Put in refrigerator and after chilling, skim off the grease from the top before making the gumbo.)

1 (3-pound) bag onions

1 bunch of celery

4 or 5 bell peppers

5 bunches green onions

2 small bunches of parsley

Garlic (buy a jar of chopped garlic and use part, plus garlic granules, or 3 bulbs of fresh)

All chopped fine. Or, buy 2 or more cups of prepared chopped fresh Creole seasoning mix, available in many grocery produce departments; more is better.

3 pounds sliced okra (fresh or frozen)

1 gallon tomatoes; run through food processor

3 pounds smoked sausage, sliced into1/4-inch or smaller pieces

10 pounds raw peeled shrimp (either fresh or 2- 1/2-pound boxes frozen)

1 pound picked claw crabmeat or 1 dozen or more cracked gumbo crabs (optional)

2 quarts oysters (optional)


Vegetable oil

Salt, black pepper, red pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, liquid crab boil to taste

Put the chicken stock in a big pot with the sliced okra. When the okra is tender, add the smoked sausage, chicken, and 1/2 of the chopped fresh seasonings and bring back to a boil. Saute the other 1/2 of the chopped seasonings in oil until they start to become transparent, then add to the pot along with the crushed tomatoes, and cook about 15 minutes. Then, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are done. When the shrimp are done, add the crabmeat and oysters, and cook until the oysters start to curl. Stir in the roux while the oysters are cooking and stir constantly after that.

While everything is cooking, make a roux with 1 cup flour and 1 cup oil, mixed in a 4-cup microwavable container and microwave on high for 5 minutes. If not light brown by that time, microwave for 1 minute at a time until the desired color is reached.

Mix 1 or 2 cups of the liquid from the big pot into the roux (be very careful, it foams up), then add the roux mix back to the pot. Add slowly while you stir it in well. I use a wire whisk to mix it in.

Correct the seasoning with salt, black pepper, red pepper, Old Bay Seasoning or Cajun seasoning mix or crab boil to taste. Serve over rice with potato salad (Back Bay and D'Iberville residents put a scoop of potato salad in the bowl on the side of the gumbo).

-- Submitted by Ed Walker

One Coastian, who made me promise not to use his name, sent in his family's secret seafood gumbo recipe that he has perfected. His does not have meat in it, just seafood. Here's his recipe for the purists out there.

"I have one secret," he said. "Before you add the crabmeat, add 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce and mix well."

He also does not use celery in his gumbo, with which I concur.


First, in large pot, add olive oil, cut okra, cook down on slow heat, add onions, 1/2 of bell peppers until soft, put aside.

5 pounds, 26-30 count, peeled Gulf shrimp

2 dozen cleaned blue crabs

4 pounds claw crabmeat

2 quarts oysters (optional)

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 onions

4 green onions

2 bell peppers

4 cups smothered okra

2 cups flour

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Seasonings: sage, lemon pepper, bay leaves, filé

First, in a cast-iron skillet, brown roux (flour and olive oil), add the other half of diced bell peppers, onions and only white tips of green onions; sweat down in roux, (chop green part of onion, put aside). In large pot, add hot water as needed to roux until proper thickness, add okra, heat until slow boil. Start adding seasonings to taste, touch of sage, lemon pepper, bay leaves and a little filé, then cook for approximately 30 minutes on simmer. This is the key for your gumbo.

Then add crabs, (oysters) continue to simmer, then add Gulf shrimp, simmer for approximately 1-2 hours, remove pot from burner, set aside. Add tomato sauce, then add crabmeat, stir lightly, add a little more filé, add green onions, cover completely with lid for approximately 4 hours. Then enjoy.


Make a roux of:

1 cup olive oil

2 cups flour

Cook over low heat, stirring, for 1 hour, then add:

1 cup green onions, chopped

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

Stir well, then add:

2 quarts cold water

Stir while adding water, then add:

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons hot sauce

Stir, then add:

2 tablespoons salt

1 pound crabmeat

2 pounds cleaned shrimp

1 pound fish pieces

1 pint oysters

1 pound crawfish, if desired

Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

-- From my files: A Justin Wilson recipe from the late 1980s.

Seafood enchiladas

"This is not Toucan's recipe, but one of our dear friend's," said Peggy Ryland, a daughter of the Myerses who owned Friendship House and Log House restaurants. "I have fixed it many times myself. It is really delicious, and I think you could substitute crawfish for the crab. Hope you like this."

A reader named Lynne asked for readers' help in locating Toucan's crawfish enchilada recipe.



2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup plus a little more grated pepper Jack cheese

2 to 2-3/4 pounds crabmeat

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

1/2 chopped red bell pepper (for color you could use regular green bell pepper if you prefer)

16 shrimp


3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Other 1/2 chopped red pepper

6 tablespoons of butter

1/3 to 1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

4- 1/2 cups milk

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

16 tortillas


Sliced tomatoes

4-6 thinly sliced green onions

1 (8-ounce) bag grated Monterey pepper Jack cheese or 1 (8-ounce) block of Monterey pepper Jack cheese, grated


Combine softened cream cheese with grated cheese, chiles, beat till smooth, then add crab. Add 1 tablespoon sauce mix well.

For wrap:

Put paper towels on plate, heat oil in skillet and dip tortillas in hot oil for about 10 seconds or until limp. Put on paper towels to drain oil off.


Cook green onion and other 1/2 red pepper in butter till tender, add green chiles, and stir in flour to make a roux. Add milk and stir until smooth and thick. Put 1 tablespoon of sauce in the filling mix and stir together.

Spoon filling into each tortilla, put a shrimp on top of filling, roll up and put in 9-by-13-inch pan seam side down. After filling pan with filled tortillas, pour sauce on top and bake covered in 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven. Lay sliced tomatoes on top. Sprinkle topping ingredients on top and put back in oven just till the cheese melts.


Sliced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) bag grated Monterey pepper Jack cheese or 1 (8-ounce) block of Monterey pepper Jack cheese, grated

4-6 thinly chopped green onions


This will feed about 12 to 14 people.

-- Submitted by Peggy Ryland


I still have not received any recipes for Rodger and Sandra Shanks on Toucan's mini-chimichangas. If any readers have a good chimichanga recipe, please send it to me.

Barbecue for charity

Daddy's BBQ will be smoking their whole barbecue pork butts for Gulf Coast Community Ministries in Gulfport (free medical clinic, food pantry and clothes closet) Thursday, Oct. 10, at Bayou View Baptist Church's gym, 4709 Chamberlain Ave. in Gulfport.

Tickets, $28, must be purchased in advance from GCCM (228-868-8202) or a board member by Sept. 30. GCCM board members include Pam Baker, James Bates, Dr. Robert Bowles, Kandi Farris, Steve Mooneyham, Martha Rounsaville and Margaret Shore.

Those interested also may sponsor a pork butt for Feed My Sheep. When purchasing a ticket, ask to have that ticket stub marked "Feed My Sheep." The meat will be donated to help feed Coast residents.

Any meat not picked up between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 will be donated to Feed My Sheep. Meat will be foil wrapped and placed in an aluminum pan. Bring a medium towel to help ensure your car stays clean while transporting.

Still looking

Please send in your best shrimp salad recipes. Leona Wolfe of Diamondhead wants a good shrimp salad recipe similar to the one served at Lil Ray's in Waveland. Readers, see what you can find.

Fried pies, anyone?

A reader is looking for an old-time fried pie recipe like her grandmother used to make. She said her grandmother used fruit fillings, apple, peach or apricot. Look through those old cookbooks and see what you can find.

I know the women of Northside Assembly of God made some wonderful fried pies in the late 1980s. Perhaps one of them can share the recipe.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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