• 2 pounds (approximately 40-50 count) fresh or frozen shrimp, head on
• 2 small blue crabs, fresh or frozen
• 3 quarts water
• 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
• 1 quart fresh or frozen okra, sliced
• 2/3 cup cooking oil
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups chopped onions
• 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
• 1 16 oz. can chopped tomatoes
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Peel and de-vein the shrimp and set aside, covered in the refrigerator. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads, place in a non-reactive stock pot along with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes to make a stock. Strain, discard the shells and heads and set the stock aside. Meanwhile, wash the crabs well under running water, place in a non-reactive pot with 1 quart of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain, reserving stock and crabs. When the crabs are cool enough to handle, snap both claws off then break the body in half. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, add the okra and saute over medium high heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all the "ropiness" is gone. This step may take a little longer if fresh okra is used. Frozen vegetables are usually plunged into boiling water and blanched before freezing, so they are partially cooked.
Place the 2/3 cup oil in a large (8 quart) heavy bottomed non-reactive Dutch oven-type pot. Add the flour and, over a medium high fire, make a dark brown roux. As soon as the proper color is achieved, add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally until tender. During this process, allow the vegetables to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, then scrape the bottom with a metal spoon or spatula. This allows some of the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, rendering great depth of flavor.
When the seasoning vegetables are tender add the tomatoes, bay leaves and the three peppers and a little salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, repeating the stick and scrape process with the tomatoes. Add the sauteed okra and cook for 10 more minutes.
Add the crab stock and half of the shrimp stock to the pot. Stirring constantly, bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat a bit, partially cover and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. If the gumbo appears too thick, add more stock to adjust. Add salt to taste and adjust the pepper if desired. Add the broken crabs and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the peeled shrimp, return to a boil and simmer until the shrimp are firm and pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat.
As is the case with most gumbos, this dish is best prepared either early in the day it is to be served, or even the day before, thereby allowing time for the flavors to marry. When reheating, stir often and be careful to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
Serve in large bowls over steamed rice. This recipe will yield about six entrees or ten to twelve appetizers.