Friday Night Gumbo

Clyde Phillips Shrimp Boat

Clyde Phillips Shrimp Boat 

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll sit in a boat with a fishing pole and drink beer all day.”
Lorena McCourtney

So with the annual shrimp haul of 35-40 pounds weighed and container packed by the pound finished for another year it was difficult to think of anything but a luscious gumbo for a Friday night casual company dinner.

While shuffling the seafood freezer compartment contents I was able to come up with several saved containers of shrimp, clam and crab stock as well as cleaned crab bodies and claws for a fantastic stock for the gumbo.

I thank my friend Chiqui Collier for her Creole rice recipe in which she clearly states using “fresh bay leaves” instead of the dry and luckily this past year I replaced 4 bay trees, well large twigs ready for planting so I have a lot of fresh bay leaves.  Instead of Uncle Ben’s rice I often use Carolina Gold Rice or basmati rice as was the case last night…the store didn’t have Filé powder how ridiculous is that and I had tossed my old stuff in the last spice clean out so I didn’t have any to finish the dish with.  Someone actually said I suppose that you will grow a sassafras tree next?

Gumbo ingredients

Beyond John Besh’s slightly exotic version, the Lee brothers and Donald Link gumbos that I have made a few times over the course of the year I just didn’t bother with a written recipe as I have pretty much played with ingredients enough to just go off on my own.  A good stock, a dark roux, plenty of spices, the holy trinity all prepped ahead of time and simmered a few hours before adding the sausage and finally the shrimp…

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Creole Boiled Rice – Chiqui Collier

1 quart of Boiling Water
1 Cup Uncle Ben’s Rice
4 Fresh Bay Leaves (If you have to use dried, do so, but damn….. the fresh are so much better!)
1
 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (too much for me, maybe 1-1/2 teaspoons)
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter (Optional)

“Bring the water to a boil with the bay leaves. Add the salt. Add the rice; stir to make sure the rice doesn’t stick! Do not stir again! If you agitate the rice too much, it gets sticky! So give it a good stir, when it comes back to a boil, partially cover it. Cook for about 11 minutes, but taste it, don ‘t trust me! It should have some bite, but a crunch is bad! When finished, drain it, pluck out the bay leaves, if desired place it into a 400° degree oven with the butter patted on top of it; this helps dry the rice out.”