Hey ~summer~, I just met you, and this is crazy, but STOP BEING FREEZING HERE.
It’s just like the song, get it? Anyway. It is cold, what the hell. We were talking about it in yoga this morning, it’s like the day school started back the earth took a massive exhale, almost as if it knew it didn’t need to work so hard to be bright and cheerful and fun anymore. We’ve had 10-15 degree cooler days, wind, clouds, and the stores are teeming with cute boots that I definitely don’t need but totally want.
And this is our segue in to fall. It’s still technically summer. We are going to the beach this weekend! The local okra is nuts – delicious and vibrant and plentiful. But there’s something about this dish that feels slightly cozy. Maybe it’s the rich sausage or warm rice. Maybe it’s the heat from the spices and hot sauce we add. The gumbo itself is meal enough, and with the crispy, juicy shrimp on top this meal ends up over the top without taking up a ton of time or effort.
Let’s make it!
I start with the gumbo, then let it simmer while I make the rice and shrimp. I’ve also eaten this with no rice and it’s perfectly filling without a white carb on the side, but you do you in that area. The gumbo is made with Italian sausage, onion, garlic, okra, stewed tomatoes, creole/cajun seasoning, and chicken stock. I like to add some hot sauce like Tabasco right before serving, but it’s not necessary at all.
First, place the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat. Let the sausage cook and brown, breaking it up into little bits as you go.
While the sausage is cooking, prep the veggies. Chop the okra and onion and mince the garlic.
After about 7 minutes the sausage will be done – maybe more, maybe less.
When the sausage is browned, crispy, and crumbly, add the onion and okra to the skillet.
Stir the veggies for about 3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent, then add the garlic.
Stir the garlic in to the sausage mixture for 1 minute, then add the creole seasoning, tomatoes (and their juices!), and chicken stock. I like to break the tomatoes up a bit with my spoon as I stir, but you can leave them in larger chunks, too!
Now, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the sauce can gently simmer and thicken while you cook rice (to the package directions, any kind you like), and make the shrimp.
For the shrimp, I use a pretty basic seasoning blend. Sugar, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and cayenne pepper. The flavors combine to be so delicious with the mild shrimp, and stand up really well to the gumbo.
After the gumbo has simmered for 15-20 minutes and the okra is soft, start the shrimp. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil and add the shrimp in one layer.
Sprinkle the blackening seasoning all over the shrimp and let the shrimp cook without disturbing it for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Be generous with the seasoning blend, but you may have a bit leftover. When the shrimp is crispy on the first side, flip it and let it finish cooking through on the second side for another minute or two. The shrimp will cook very quickly – don’t let it overcook and get rubbery!
The key here is to time everything so the shrimp is the last thing to get cooked. The rice and gumbo can stay warm for a little bit longer and won’t overcook as easily as the shrimp will. When all of the components to your meal are done, serve! I make a little mound of rice, heap it with gumbo, and place a few shrimp on top. The recipe below calls for only a half pound of shrimp, portioning just a few per person since we have protein in the gumbo as well. Cook more, though, if you’d like!
The pictures here 100% don’t do this meal justice. The flavors combine so beautifully to highlight the okra, sausage, and shrimp, and the spice level is just perfect for a slightly cooler end-of-summer week.
Plus, if you’re going to the beach this weekend you can totally make this with local shrimp. DO IT.
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, hot or sweet
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 pound okra, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 teaspoons creole seasoning
- 15 ounces canned stewed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- cooked white rice, optional, for serving
Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and cook for about 7 minutes, breaking it up as you go, until the sausage is crispy, crumbly, and cooked through.
When the sausage has cooked, add the onion and the okra to the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, to soften the veggies. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
When the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned, add the creole seasoning, tomatoes and their juices, and chicken stock. Stir to combine and taste; add more creole seasoning until the mixture is very flavorful and slightly spicy.
Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low the let the gumbo gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the spices to make a spice blend for the shrimp.
When the gumbo has thickened and reduced (near the time you'd like to serve), preheat a skillet with some olive oil to medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the shrimp in one even layer and sprinkle with the seasoning blend. Save any extra of the spice blend for another use. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes or so on each side until just barely cooked through and crispy on the outside - don't move them too much or they won't brown.
Serve the gumbo over rice topped with a few of the shrimp. Top with extra hot sauce such as Tabasco for flavor. Enjoy!