It was a long, long week.  I was looking at my very packed weekend schedule and thinking, as B. said on Mouldy Cheese day, “Stupid social engagements – they really tend to mess with my eating.”  Sigh.

It was Friday.  I found myself at The Public, my favourite Main Street hangout, with 5 equally exhausted friends.  We’d downed 3 bottles of wine and eaten our way through the entire charcuterie board (all of their cheeses are local… mmmmmm…) when it occurred to me that I had to talk about gumbo on Monday and I had no free time until then.  I had to make gumbo on Friday or not at all.

I did a quick mental survey of my kitchen.  I knew I had some gorgeous local shrimp in my freezer from my last expedition to the Trout Lake Farmer’s Market.  I also had some chicken sausage from Organic World in Maple Ridge, a fantastic butcher shop near my sister’s house that carries a wide range of organic meat for unbelievable prices (see the comments on the Food Network’s “Eating Well” blog).  I was pretty sure I still had a few cups of shrimp stock somewhere in the freezer too.

Off I lurched to IGA (thank goodness it was walking distance), where after careening through the store in breakneck, take-no-prisoners fashion, I bought 2 cans of tomatoes and a can of okra (they didn’t have fresh or frozen).

I really like gumbo, but don’t often get to eat it (all restaurant versions are made with pork sausage).  According to at least one food writer, gumbo is a social equalizer: “Gumbo crosses all class barriers, appearing on the tables of the poor as well as the wealthy.”  I like to think that’s true.

I started out by making a roux: a mixture of equal parts flour and fat (butter, in my case), cooked until brown.  Whisked in several cups of shrimp stock.  Puréed and added one can of tomatoes.  Squeezed the sausages from their casings and sautéed them up with garlic and onions, and tossed them into the broth.  Chopped up and added the okra (I don’t really love okra but I like how it thickens the gumbo, so pretty much minced it).  Threw in some rice (I know, not traditional, but I like my gumbo with the rice cooked right in).

Pause: there was a slight mishap with the rice.

At the very end, threw in the shrimp and then decided it would be better with a pinch of smoked paprika.

We having a saying in our house: “hunger makes great sauce.”  We’ve also been known to ply our guests with copious quantities of alcohol before serving dinner at 10:00 p.m. (or later).  They tend to be very grateful for whatever we plunk in front of them (while I was cooking, we killed 2 more bottles of wine).

I served the gumbo at 11:00 p.m.  It was delicious.

Shrimp-Sausage Gumbo

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