Not So Fast Gumbo

Also from the Fast page in the February 2003 Food and Wine, I made their Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo.  Fast gumbo, an oxymoron, don’t you think?  It claims 25 minutes to make, but if such was the case at the 25 minute mark, you would have an unarticulated, wan soup.  Only after an hour is it ready for show time, a flavorful soup that is the best of surf and turf – briny shrimp and smoky sausage.  The trade off is that the life is sucked out of the sausage and shrimp, making them flavorless nuggets on their own.  How can I make it better?

Consulting The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, I would have to sacrifice time for these details:

-make a real roux to coax more nutty flavor, and then cook the vegetables

-brown the sausages whole, then slice and add in the last 10 minutes of cooking

-add wine

-make the stock separately with the shrimp shells first, remove the shells, then add the vegetables, sausage and shrimp

In the meantime, I wanted to beef up the tasty but watery stock.  I didn’t want to incorporate okra due to my own prejudices and fears, but I wanted something that would act as a thickener and to provide further interest to the soup.  The answer was rice, a natural accompaniment to gumbo.  I strained out the solids, and cooked the remaining stock with a little rice so that the rice would overexpand and release its starch.  It gave a viscous body and substance without losing flavor.  A gumbo worth waiting for.

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