Lisa Fain, author of The Homesick Texan’s Family Table, brings beloved Texan meals right to your dinner table. As previewed in the Issue 70 article “Home-Cooked Texas,” her cookbook walks you through the necessary steps to create a meal full of southern flavor and culinary charm.
Our favorite recipe from her collection is this delicious twist on traditional gumbo, which incorporates an array of spices in conjunction with sausage, crabmeat, and shrimp.
- ½ cup bacon grease
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 8 ounces okra
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 pound smoked sausage
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 7 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 1 pound lump crabmeat
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Filé powder, for garnishing
(serves 8 to 12)
Step 1: Cook bacon, and reserve grease for roux.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In an 8-by-10 rimmed baking sheet, place the bacon in a single layer directly onto the pan—I found it best not to line the sheet with foil to make it easier to collect the drippings once the bacon is cooked.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until crispy, and remove from the oven. Transfer each piece of bacon onto a plate lined with paper towels, and set aside. While the bacon grease is still hot, carefully transfer drippings from the baking sheet to a bowl, and let cool slightly until you’re ready to make the roux.
And since this gumbo only calls for using the grease, be sure to indulge on the crispy bacon as you continue your way through this recipe!
Step 2: Combine flour with bacon grease to make the roux.
Add the reserved bacon grease to a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and melt completely. Sprinkling in only a little bit at a time, begin stirring in the flour, mixing well after each addition.
Continuously stir the roux for 30 to 35 minutes, until it turns a dark praline color. Remove from the heat, and set aside. This will be used later as the thickening agent to your gumbo broth.
Step 3: Slice and dice the vegetables.
Prep all of your vegetables: Peel and chop onion—1 medium-sized onion should yield approximately 1 cup. Then carefully dice green bell pepper, being sure to remove all of the seeds and the stem.
Mince 6 cloves of fresh garlic—I found that mincing with a knife works the best, but you can use a garlic press. Lastly, trim off the stem and the bottom edge of the okra, and slice into thin rings. (If you’ve never cooked with okra, check out this overview of ways to prep the vegetable.)
Step 4: Sauté the vegetables before adding to the soup pot.
In another medium-size skillet, melt half of a stick of butter over medium-low heat. Then add the onions and peppers to the pan, and sauté for 10 minutes, until the vegetables become soft. Mix in the prepared okra, and cook for 5 minutes. Toss in the fresh garlic, and simmer for another 30 seconds more before removing the pan from the heat.
Step 5: Brown the sausage, and add in some of the broth.
While the vegetables are heating up, you can begin to prepare the sausage. Cut the smoked meat into ¼-inch chunks, and add them into a large cast-iron Dutch oven. Cook the sausage over medium-low heat until it starts to crisp.
Then add in the Worchestershire sauce and 1 cup of chicken broth. Continue to simmer until you have scraped the bottom of the pot to incorporate all of the cooked sausage into the broth.
Step 6: Combine the ingredients together, and allow the gumbo to simmer.
Once the sausage has been incorporated into the broth, you can begin assembling the makings of the gumbo. Add the roux, stirring well to combine. Then add the remaining cups of chicken broth and the sautéed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and allow the pot to simmer for an hour over low heat.
While this is simmering, use the time to peel and devein shrimp. Then add the shrimp and the lump crabmeat to the gumbo, and continue simmering for another 15 minutes longer. As the flavors continue to meld together, cook the rice in a pot of boiling water.
Step 7: Serve, and enjoy.
As a final touch, serve the gumbo over white rice, and garnish with filé powder. Be sure to keep your leftovers, as they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
This featured recipe has been adapted from the cookbook The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours by Lisa Fain (© Ten Speed Press, 2014). For more Lone Star-inspired dishes, pick up your own copy of The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours on Amazon.com.