You meet the nicest people during our community’s benefits, and the Cambria Kitchen Tour on behalf of the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is no exception. I was delighted to work with Margaret Randall and Linda Finley, and super delighted to get to be stationed with chef Jeanne Brodie. We had struck up an acquaintance a couple of years ago at the Christmas candlelit concert up at the historic Catholic chapel on the hill above East Village and found we had kindred spirit.
Segue back to another conversation with different Cambrian’s name I cannot recall, but I do remember her saying that it might be appropriate to salute the survivors and heroes of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans by running a good traditional recipe. Jeanne’s delicious pot of gumbo she cooked and served on the tour was superior to any I had. Everyone raved about its perfect balance of vegetables and sausage, featuring great mouthfuls of shrimp! I was delighted that she would share the recipe she developed herself, here in her own words.
Jeanne’s Shrimp Gumbo
As every good Southern recipe begins: “First Make a Roux”
1/2 cup clarified butter or grapeseed oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour Shrimp Gumbo
(I prefer to cut my ingredients on the smaller side, to ensure that my bites include all of the goodies!) 1-plus tblsp. olive oil (enough to sauté vegetables)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tblsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (amount to be determined by your love of spice; may be omitted altogether)
1 to 2 tblsps. Old Bay seasoning (a combo of spices, including cayenne and paprika, which again should be used to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup bell pepper (any color), chopped
1-1/2 cups okra, cut into one-half-inch pieces (if fresh is not available, use frozen. Do not defrost beforehand!)
1/2 lb. Andouille sausage, cut into one-half-inch pieces
6 cups stock (shrimp, seafood or chicken) heated (I use “Better than Bouillion” lobster base, available in some specialty stores or at www.SoupsOnLine.com.
2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
Clarified butter is butter with the milk solids removed, leaving an oil that can be heated to high temperatures, unlike olive oil. To do this, simply melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. It will foam up, but after about 5 minutes, this foam will subside and turn into milky particles that float to the top. Using a spoon, remove the foamy solids that separate after melting. The remaining liquid should look like oil. It is typically strained through cheesecloth if it is to be stored, but for our purposes, this step is unnecessary.
To make the roux, heat clarified butter or grapeseed oil over medium heat in a medium-sized skillet. Stir in the flour, using a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula. Stir slowly and constantly until the roux becomes a smooth paste. Continue stirring until the roux turns a deep caramel color (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from heat, and immediately transfer the roux into a separate bowl to avoid continued cooking. Set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden in color. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in thyme, cayenne, Old Bay, salt, pepper and garlic. Add more olive oil if ingredients are threatening to stick. When this mixture becomes fragrant (about 2 minutes), raise heat to medium, and add celery, bell pepper, okra and sausage. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often (about 5-10 minutes).
Add heated stock to the pot, enough to generously cover the ingredients (4-6 cups), keeping in mind that you can always add more stock to the base. Raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. When bubbling, slowly stir in about two-thirds of the roux and continue stirring until it is completely absorbed. The stock should begin to thicken. Make sure to taste the gumbo at this point, and adjust the seasonings if needed. Reduce heat to a low simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking. If the gumbo looks too thin, raise the
heat and stir in the remaining roux. If too thick, add enough water or stock to thin out.
(Cook’s Note: While gumbo is cooking at this stage, this is a good time to get your rice on. Also, prepare the gremolata by simply combining the parsley and lemon zest in a small bowl. Set aside for service.)
When the gumbo has attained the desired flavor and consistency, raise the heat a bit, and stir in the shrimp, maintaining a soft simmer. Cook until the shrimp is no longer opaque in color and somewhat firm to the touch, making sure to stir often and adjusting the heat as needed. When the shrimp is cooked (about 10 minutes), you are ready to serve; remove from heat. Serve over rice, and garnish with gremolata!
Let this mouth-watering offering prompt you to purchase the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve cookbook at the Cambria Historic Museum for a $20 donation, or call 927-2856. Get lots of wonderful recipes from Kitchen Tours and Wildflower Shows over the years.
Now segue forward and pick up your tickets for the Friends of the Elephant Seal’s
Soupabration on Sunday, Sept. 9. This second year of the event will be at the lovely Camp Ocean Pines from noon until four, and will feature soup sampling from nine local restaurant chefs. It’s even better than last year when I served as a judge, so you are in for a real taste treat! Tickets are available at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, or call 924-1628 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch The Cambrian for many more details!
Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Send your unique recipes to her c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cam email@example.com.