best gumbo recipe ever (+ koinonia)

Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely,  while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47, CEV)


With the exception of last Saturday’s DOG-BLOG, this has been a fairly “in-depth” content week here at “The Life-Charged Life.”

So today I’m going to indulge those who sent messages asking for my recipe for the amazing gumbo I prepared for dinner Friday evening, and then shared via a mouth-watering picture on facebook while I was cooking.

The occasion was our “Koinonia Dinner Gathering” small group from church. Rebekah and I hosted, and we wanted to share our very best with our friends.

First, I’ll give the history, then I’ll talk you through the recipe.

IMG_0860HISTORY: Many years ago, Rebekah’s youngest brother, Jesse, and his bride, Heather, were married at the Pensacola church where Rebekah served as associate pastor. Rebekah’s mother decided to serve gumbo for the rehearsal dinner. She lived 500 miles away, so she did most of the preparation over the phone with her souschef, yours truly.

The gumbo I prepared this weekend has its heart and soul in the old “Grandma Nell” recipe. It’s a little different every time I cook, but the foundation is consistent. It’s one part Grandma Nell, one part “The Seafood Cookbook,” and one part Derek Maul.

RECIPE: So this is what I did:

  1. After breakfast, boil three turkey legs and one red onion (chopped) in lightly salted water for most of the morning, till the meat falls off the bone and the stock is rich. Separate the meat and reserve the stock.

    Maul Hall kitchen
  2. In a sauté pan, brown 8-ounces of mild pork sausage. Set the browned sausage aside, with the turkey.
  3. Add some butter to the sausage pan, mix in three tablespoons of flour and stir till golden-brown and smooth, gradually add 1-2 cups of the stock and bring to a boil, stir with a whisk until thickened, then add the mixture to the pot of stock and stir.
  4. Keep the large pot of stock on simmer and then add the following ingredients: 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; three stalks of celery, chopped; 1 package of sliced okra; 1 sweet red pepper, chopped; 2 cans of corn; 2 cans of diced tomatoes; 2 bay leaves; 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce; sea-salt & black pepper to taste.
  5. Bring the mixture back to the boil, then let it simmer on a low setting. Add the turkey and the sausage, then enough boiling water to bring the stock to the consistency you desire. Cover, and let the mixture simmer (creating a richer stock) for another good hour or so.
  6. Around 90-minutes before guests arrive, add 16-oz of lump crab meat (yes, it’s expensive, but this gumbo is not the place to get by with imitation crab). Also, add 16-oz of small shrimp (shelled and deveined). Open the fresh oysters (2-pounds) and add the liquid – but reserve the oysters.
  7. 30-minutes before the guests arrive, prepare the white rice. After 18 minutes, turn off the heat but leave the rice, covered, on the burner. It should be perfect by the time you serve.
  8. Add the oysters when you turn off the rice, stir them in and leave the gumbo to simmer, also add half a lemon, thinly sliced.
  9. Finally, just ten minutes before you’re done, stir in two teaspoons of gumbo filé powder.
  10. I’m sure you have been stirring and tasting the gumbo all afternoon; I recommend a light white wine to accompany this rewarding exercise.

IMG_0852BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: It’s important to invite people who will bring amazing appetizers, wonderful cornbread, perfect salad, and yummy dessert! Our guests raised the bar with everything.

Finally, great gumbo is vastly improved in the presence of great conversation. Rebekah and I always have a handful of “connect-questions” up our sleeves just in case. But this group didn’t need the help!

When the party broke up, three-and-half hours after we dove into the appetizer, the great gumbo had become merely a footnote, one small element in an evening of fun, warm fellowship, laughter, and spiritual insight.

IMG_0858All the best ingredients, mixed together, simmered over the course of the evening, and covered in prayer.

Bon Appétit  – DEREK


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