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Berry C. Black
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Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

In the Gumbo Pot:

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
6 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup coarsely diced onions
3/4 cup coarsely diced celery
1/2 cup coarsely diced bell pepper
2 tsp. finely minced garlic

In the Skillet:

6 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut in small pieces
2 lbs. frozen okra, cut and thawed
2 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes with chilies (12-ounce size)

Later, In the Gumbo Pot:

6 cups homemade shrimp stock (or chicken stock)
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups water as needed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. powdered thyme
1 tsp. red pepper flakes, if desired
2 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
2 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
4 lbs. peeled and deveined shrimp (36-40 count)
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 lb. long grain rice (cooked al dente)

Instructions Start off by placing the gumbo pot on the stove top,
turning the fire up to medium-high, and heating the
vegetable oil until it begins to sizzle. Then, a little
at a time, briskly whisk in the flour until it has all
been added and it begins to brown. Keep moving the flour
around in the pot until it reaches a deep tan color
(but be careful not to let it burn or scorch).

At that point, drop in the seasoning vegetables
(onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic), reduce the
fire to low, and incorporate all the veggies into the
darkening roux. In other words, mix, mix, and mix again!
Then immediately move the gumbo pot off the fire and set it
aside for a while.

In the meantime, in a 12-inch, high-sided skillet over
medium high heat, cook down the bacon pieces until they
wilt and render out their pan drippings and become crunchy
and crusty. Then, without reducing the heat, stir in the cut
okra and begin pan-frying it, stirring continually, until the
edges of the okra begin to toast lightly (expect this to take
about 12 minutes or so). One note here: don't worry about
cooking out the okra "slime." That will take care of itself
later in the cooking process.

When the okra begins to toast evenly, stir into the skillet
the Rotel tomatoes and cook them into the mixture until
thoroughly blended. And yes…use the liquid the tomatoes
come packed in, too!

At this time,everything gets transferred to the gumbo pot.
The bacon, drippings, okra, and tomatoes now get stirred
into the tan roux and the seasoning vegetables you cooked
in the gumbo pot. And while you're at it, go ahead and add
the next nine ingredients-the stock, the wine, the water,
the bay leaves, the basil, the thyme, the red pepper flakes,
the sea salt, and the seafood seasoning.

Keep in mind that it is important to stir thoroughly at
this stage-(1) you want to completely dissolve and smooth
out the roux to keep lumps out of the gumbo, and (2) you want
to fully disperse the ingredients into the liquids to cause
them to blend and balance the overall flavor. When this is done,
reduce the flame to low, cover the pot tightly, and simmer
the gumbo base for about 20 minutes to get all the ingredients
to marry.
Then when the flavors have combined and peaked, toss in the
raw shrimp and stir the entire pot once again for continuity.
Remember that the shrimp will be ready to eat in just a matter
of minutes, so be careful that you don't overcook them
(about 5 to 6 minutes should be all it takes!)

Finally, just before you plan to serve the gumbo,
once more check the thickness and texture (and the seasonings).
Add extra water, wine, or chicken stock if the gumbo has
become too thick; or work in a little extra roux if it has
turned out too thin. All that's left to do, then, is to
sprinkle on the green onions and the parsley and fold
everything together one last time.

This gumbo is best when ladled over steaming hot rice
in deep soup bowls, surrounded by either sesame-studded
bread sticks, multi-grain saltine crackers, or hot buttered
French bread right from the oven.

Chef's Hints
1. Once again, don't overcook the shrimp. The moment
they turn a rich pink, they're done! Overcooking makes
them tough and rubbery.

2. The worst thing you can do to this gumbo is to
thicken the liquid to resemble a heavy sauce.
The broth should barely have body, and only enough of
it to coat the shrimp and rice. Let's put it this way--if
you're satisfied that what you have is a "semi-thick soup,
" you're right on! Not all gumbos have to boast heavy gravies.

3. If you' like the gumbo to be a tad darker than the
roux caused it to be, feel free to stir in a little Kitchen
Bouquet to color the stock. It adds flavor without altering
the integrity of the dish.

4. A real culinary trick-want to get a richer, more shrimpy
flavor in the gumbo? Fry down a handful of sun-dried shrimp
in the bacon drippings when you do the okra. The hot oil
(in this case, bacon fat) releases the essence of the shrimp
and intensifies the locked in flavor. Later, as the stock
simmers and cooks, the dried shrimp virtually disappear
into the liquids.

5. To make homemade shrimp stock, wash the shrimp shells
and heads thoroughly under cold running water, then place
them into a stockpot and simmer them over a low flame for
about an hour. The final flavor will be intense. Try not
to let the shrimp water boil-the stock will remain clear
that way. And for an even richer taste, toast the shells
and heads in a 450 degree oven before making homemade stock


Healthy Jambalaya


1 Tbsp. margarine
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/4 lb. small white mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flatleaf parsley, minced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in puree, undrained
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. sweet basil
1 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Frank Davis Poultry Seasoning
10 drops Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 whole chicken breast (1 cup +), skinned, deboned, and cubed
12 oz. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
1 cup Healthy Choice smoked sausage, coarsely diced
1-1/2 cups raw converted rice, washed and drained
Green onions for garnish

Instructions First, take a cast iron or heavy aluminum
5-quart Dutch oven and heat the margarine and olive oil
to sizzling over a medium-high flame. Then drop in the
onions, bell pepper, celery, mushrooms, garlic, and
parsley and cook the mixture—stirring continually—until
it wilts. Ideally, this should take about four to six minutes or so.
Once the veggies soften, add the cabbage to the pot and
stir it thoroughly into the mix. Then stir in the tomatoes,
the chicken broth, and the tomato paste and combine all the
ingredients once again. When everything is uniformly blended,
add the seasonings: the salt, black pepper, cayenne, bay leaf,
sweet basil, seafood seasoning, poultry seasoning, and hot sauce.
Note—to have this jambalaya come out rich and zesty instead of
flat and bland, do not omit any of the herbs and spices! And under
no circumstances omit the cabbage, even if you don’t like it.
You’ll never taste it in the finished dish and it’s what
keeps the rice grains moist as they cook!
At this point the rest of the recipe becomes a true
South Louisiana throw-it-together dish! Once the mixture
has been seasoned, toss in the chicken cubes, the chopped
shrimp, the diced sausage, and the raw rice. Then stir
everything together once more until uniform, put the lid
on the Dutch oven, reduce the fire to low, and allow the
pot to simmer until the meats are cooked and tender and the
rice fully absorbs all the liquids.
I know the urge is to keep peeping into the pot to check
on the cooking process, because you are absolutely
convinced that the whole dish is going to stick and burn.
But resist the urge and don’t even lift the lid until the
dish has been cooking for at least 20 minutes. Only after
that allotted time can you check—go ahead and take the
lid off, stir everyone once, fluff up the rice, and put
the lid back on. It should take only 15 to 20 minutes more
to finish the jambalaya to perfection.
When you’re ready to eat, spoon out a generous, piping
hot helping (a one-cup serving is recommended by the
American Diabetes Association) into a soup bowl right from
the Dutch oven. Of course, any quantity you refrigerate for
later use can be reheated in the microwave and tastes just
as good (some folks say it’s even better!) as the
just-cooked stuff. Oh, yeah—a sprinkling of thinly sliced
green onions over the top when you serve it lends a coup
de grace to the meal. V
Chef's Hints Do not change the quantities, ratios, and
proportions. Following the recipe to the letter will
produce a tasty, fluffy, perfect jambalaya.
Even if you hate cabbage, don’t leave it out! One of
the secrets to this jambalaya is the moisture the cabbage
imparts to keep the rice fluffy. Don’t worry. Even if
you despise cabbage, you’ll never taste it in this jambalaya.
If you’d prefer a spicier jambalaya, it’s okay to substitute
Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies for the regular
diced tomatoes. Just keep the quantity the same.
Remember, excessive moisture produces a soggy jambalaya
that resembles risotto; not enough moisture yields a dry,
sticky jambalaya.
If you can’t find my seafood and poultry seasonings at
the supermarket where you shop, you can order them
directly from my web site by clicking here.
If the amount of fat and cholesterol is not a criteria
for you, it is okay to substitute regular smoked sausage
for the turkey sausage.
As the recipe indicates, be sure to wash and drain the
rice before stirring it into the mixture. Even though
it’s "converted", washing removes excess starch and helps
the grains fluff.
One last hint: remember that the jambalaya is perfect
when the rice is tender and all the excess moisture
is absorbed. To reach that end, you might want to cook
the mixture to "almost doneness", then turn off the
fire and allow the residual heat from the burner and
the heavy cookware to finish the dish. It’s one sure
way to avoid overcooking... and mushy rice.
You can figure that a cup of this jambalaya is about
288 calories and contains 4.2 grams of fat, 21 grams
of protein, 998 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of fiber,
and 59 milligrams of cholesterol.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Stuffed Bell Pepper


8 medium bell peppers, split lengthwise and seeded
2 cups cooked long grain rice, heaping
1-1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 lb. Owens Brand breakfast sausage
1 cup onions, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely diced
½ cup green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup bell pepper, finely diced
¼ cup minced parsley
6 clov