If there's a more satisfying meal to make for cool weather, we haven't found it. Gumbo is a stay-inside-and-cook-all-day kind of dish that warms you inside and out. While Louisianans have firm ideas about what goes into a proper gumbo, there are infinite variations—chicken and okra; turkey and sausage; duck, oyster, and sausage—and countless versions, including ones with filé as a thickener and others with okra. So when the SL Test Kitchen set out to make a singular recipe, we weighed all of the delicious combinations before landing on shrimp and sausage. Of course, our gumbo has what you'd expect, like bell pepper, onions, and celery, plus a few surprises, such as canned tomatoes (because we think they add a nice touch of acidity). Our end result is a vibrant, cayenne-kissed dish that allows all of the ingredients to shine. Now we wouldn't dare call this the best recipe you've ever tasted—we know that's the one you grew up enjoying. That said, this is the finest pot of gumbo our Test Kitchen has ever turned out, and that's saying a lot.
1 pound smoked spicy-hot sausage (such as Conecuh), cut into ½-inch-thick slices
1 large green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
3 large celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 (32-oz.) cartons chicken broth
1 pound fresh okra, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 2 ¾ cups)
(14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds unpeeled raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Hot cooked rice
Sliced scallions, filé powder (optional)
How to Make It
Place sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium; cook, stirring often, until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage to drain on paper towels; reserve drippings in pan.
Add butter to hot drippings in Dutch oven, stirring until melted. Gradually whisk in all-purpose flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is caramel colored, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are very tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Gradually stir in broth. Stir in sausage, okra, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, thyme, and pepper.
Increase heat to medium-high, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours. Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in shrimp, and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, and remove from heat. Serve gumbo over hot cooked rice. Garnish with sliced scallions and filé powder, if desired.