Freeze-Ahead Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

With a little advance planning, the taste of slow-simmered gumbo can be on the table any night of the week. The secret to keeping the shrimp tender and succulent in this make-ahead main dish is to freeze them separately from the sausage base.

Regan Burns Cafiso

Freeze-Ahead Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

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    Ingredients

    3/4 pound fresh medium shell-on shrimp 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
    1 bay leaf 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (use less if your seasoning is labeled "hot")
    4 black peppercorns 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
    1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil 2 links cooked andouille sausage (6-7 ounces), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour 10-ounce package sliced frozen okra
    1 medium yellow onion Salt and pepper to taste
    1 large green bell pepper, stem, seeds and membranes removed, chopped Hot sauce, such as Tabasco

    directions

    Total:
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    • 1

      Peel and devein shrimp, reserving shells separately. Rinse shrimp, dry well with paper towels and place in a small freezer bag. Squeeze out any air and seal bag; place in a second sealed bag and freeze until ready to serve gumbo. In a medium pot, cover shrimp shells with 5 cups water. Add bay leaf, a pinch of salt and peppercorns. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to 4 cups. Remove from heat and strain; discard shells and bay leaf.

    • 2

      To make the roux, heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium. Slowly sprinkle in flour, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until brown (about the color of peanut butter) and smells toasty, about 12 to 15 minutes. (Be careful, roux is extremely hot!)

    • 3

      Stir in onion, bell pepper and celery. Add Cajun seasoning and salt; cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add strained shrimp stock, stirring well to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until gumbo is thick and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in sausage and okra; cover pot and simmer another 10 minutes, until okra is tender. Season gumbo with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Remove from heat and cool.

    • 4

      Transfer cooled gumbo to a freezer-safe storage container with a lid and freeze up to 1 month.

    • 5

      To reheat, thaw gumbo and shrimp overnight in the refrigerator. In a large pot, bring gumbo base to a simmer. Stir in shrimp and cook until they are no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Serve with cooked white rice and hot sauce.

    • 6

      Note: Andouille sausage is classic in gumbo. Look for both pork and turkey varieties in the meat section of many supermarkets. If you can't find it, any other spicy, smoked sausage will do.

    • 7

      If gumbo seems too thick after reheating, add a little water to reach the desired consistency. (Cold gumbo will be very thick.)

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