My grandma gave me a famous Louisiana cookbook (if you are a Louisiana native, you know what I’m talking about) when I was a teenager. I watched her make famous-around-town gumbo so many times as a kid.
I took the book’s “second edition” recipe and what I learned from her and came up with my own hybrid of the two. My daughters have asked me for my recipe, so here is my best recollection of it.
Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil just begins to bubble. Whisk in the flour to form a thick paste the consistency of cake frosting. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the flour is very dark brown and the color of melted chocolate, about 45 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add okra, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent and veggies are cooked, 6 to 8 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, cover, and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add okra and cook, stirring constantly, until tender and no longer stringy or slimy, about 10 minutes. Add to simmering roux mixture and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add 6 cups water plus file powder, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves. Cook, uncovered, tasting a few times as it cooks to adjust spices and adding more water if necessary, until gumbo is as thick as you would like, at least 2 to 3 hours. The longer it cooks, the better.
Stir in shrimp and crabmeat; cook for 15 more minutes. Ladle gumbo over hot rice in serving bowls.
Per Serving: 420 calories; protein 21.2g; carbohydrates 37.3g; fat 20.6g; cholesterol 109.4mg; sodium 497.5mg.