Recipe: Poppy Tooker's "Diaspora Gumbo"

Along with New Orleans essentials--red beans and rice and jambalaya--Diaspora Gumbo was designed as a formula wherein you'd "pick your diaspora by choosing from the following foods, depending on personal preference and availability to obtain ingredients in your evacuation site."

    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
    • 2 pounds okra, thinly sliced (1/8-inch slices)
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3 stalks celery, chopped
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 1-pound can whole tomatoes
    • 2 tablespoons thyme
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 gallon stock (shrimp, chicken, or vegetable)
    • 1 clove garlic

Use any combination of the following ingredients depending on your personal preference and your evacuation site:
    • 4 gumbo crabs (can be purchased frozen in 1-pound packages)
    • 2 pounds shrimp
    • 1 pound smoked sausage (andouille or kielbasa), sliced and browned
    • 1 pint oysters
    • 2 cups chicken meat
    • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
    • Salt and pepper
    • Hot sauce
    • Sprinkle of filé powder
    • Hot cooked rice (1/4 cup per serving)

Cover the bottom of a 10- or 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil (approximately 1/4 cup). Heat oil until very hot, then fry okra in single layers until lightly browned. Reserve the oil.

In a 10- or 12-quart Dutch oven-type pot, make a dark roux by combining 1/2 cup oil with flour and cooking until the mixture is the color of milk chocolate. Add onion and stir together; cook until the roux darkens to a bittersweet chocolate brown. Add celery and bell pepper; cook together for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add stock, garlic, okra and any combination of the diaspora ingredients (except raw shrimp and raw oysters, which must be added in the last 5 minutes before serving).

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes or so, stirring periodically to be sure there's no sticking. In the last 5 minutes, add raw shrimp or oysters if desired along with green onions. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve over rice with a sprinkle of filé powder stirred in if desired.

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Justin Vogt is a freelance journalist living in New Orleans. More

Justin Vogt is a freelance journalist living in New Orleans. More of his work can be found at his Web site.

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