Shrimp Filé Gumbo

I found cooked, peeled shrimp on sale the other day and decided to make gumbo. I have had gumbo a few times and loved it. I think I have even made it before, but this was different. I decided to look it up and find out what is unique about gumbo, if there was anything in particular that sets it aside from other soups.

I found out that the thickening agents are the keys. The first one is the roux. The second can be okra or filé. Most say that you must choose one or the other – okra or filé, a few say it’s fine to use them together. I didn’t have a need to make the choice; I had filé on hand and no okra.

1 small red onion
1 medium yellow onion
2 bulbs garlic
2 green chilies
2 jalapenos
10 slices bacon
Chicken stock (about 4 cups, should be homemade)
Water (about 4 cups)
1 pound cooked, peeled, frozen shrimp
File (about 1 tablespoon or to taste)

Celery salt
Black pepper
Cholula’s (or Tabasco, or something similar)

¼ cup bacon grease
¼ cup flour

Roast red onion, 1 bulbs garlic, 1 jalapeno, and 1 green chili, covered at 400 degrees for 45 minute to one hour. Allow to cool well enough to be handled and cut up (can be roasted and refrigerated the day before).

In a heavy bottom pan melt bacon grease. Add flour. Whisk well. Cook over low to medium heat (barely bubbling) for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally, until it turns a deep caramel color.

Add stock, roux and water to a large sauce pan or stockpot. Whisk well. If the liquid is cool the roux will congeal and stick to the whisk. That is OK, just be sure to whisk well when it has warmed before adding other ingredients.

Add all ingredients except the shrimp and file. Spices should be used liberally. Remember to adjust salt according to saltiness of stock. Bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 ½ hour. It will reduce.

Add shrimp. Allow to return to a boil or simmer. Reduce heat and cook for 10 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and wait until it is no longer bubbling. Add file and stir well. Serve over white rice.

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