A holiday recipe for Seafood Gumbo

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 ½ pounds medium shrimp (41 to 50 or 51 to 60 per pound) or 2 pounds if using head-on shrimp

2 cups chopped white onion (about 1 large onion; reserve the skin)

1 cup chopped celery (about 2 medium stalks; reserve the trimmings)

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1 pound fresh or thawed frozen okra, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoon olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium pepper)

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 pound lump or claw crabmeat (about 1 1/2 cups), picked over for shells, or 4-6 gumbo crabs, cleaned, halved or quartered; these are also known as blue crabs (about 1 pound total), see note below

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons kosher salt; more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

1 cup fresh shucked oysters (halved if large)

Louisiana-style hot sauce, to taste

1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced (about 8 scallions)

2 to 2 1/2 cups hot cooked white rice, allow 1/4 cup per serving

1. Make the shrimp stock: Remove the shrimp heads, if necessary. Peel and devein the shrimp and refrigerate the shrimp until needed. Combine the shrimp peels and heads and the reserved onion skin and celery trimmings in a 6- to 8-quart pot. (Discard the shrimp veins). Cover with 9 cups of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid. You should have about 2 quarts.

2. Prepare the okra: Toss the sliced okra in the olive oil and water mixture. Lay in a single layer on a baking pan and roast at 450 degrees stirring every 5 minutes until lightly browned and roasted. Reserve.

3. Make the roux: Heat the 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Once it’s hot, add the flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the roux reaches the color of milk-chocolate brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir until the roux deepens to a dark-chocolate brown, 1 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp stock, okra, tomatoes, gumbo crabs, (if using shelled crab meat add that in the next step), thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Adjust the heat to medium-low or low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

5. Serve the gumbo: Five minutes before serving, add the shrimp, fresh or pasteurized lump crabmeat (if using), oysters and scallions. Add hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in large soup bowls over 1/4 cup cooked rice per serving. Pass additional hot sauce at the table.

6. Make Ahead Tips. Store gumbo in the refrigerator for up to a day and then reheat gently before serving. As with many stews and braises, gumbo tastes better the second day. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months. Transfer to freezer-safe containers.

Note: Gumbo crabs are small blue crabs that are available at local Asian markets. They are cleaned and served in the shell, and you pick out the meat as you eat the gumbo. Or you can use a Dungeness crab or a quality canned crab meat such as Phillips Claw Crab Meat available at Costco. Do not use shredded or imitation crabmeat.

From Poppy Tooker