One flip through Lucy (LuLu) Buffett’s new cookbook will have you drooling and yearning to throw a dinner party Gulf Coast-style. The restaurateur, self-proclaimed “gypsy rebel,” and sister of the famed tequila singing Jimmy Buffett, has been feeding fans her Coastal Southern cuisine for more than a decade. She is now sharing the “Gumbo Love” - how she refers to the magical combination of good food, friends and family - in a delicious and humorous cookbook filled more than 120 coastal classic and Southern recipes. The comforting and “soul-satisfying” delights in LuLu's Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life include LuLu’s Perfect Peel and Eat Shrimp, Creole Blackened Grouper Salad, Lower Alabama (LA) Caviar, Key Lime Pie with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream, an entire chapter on specialty cocktails, plus a whole lot more.
So put on some Jimmy Buffett and let’s get started cooking some Summer Seafood Gumbo LuLu-style!
LuLu's Summer Seafood Gumbo
Excerpted with permission from LuLu’s Kitchen: A Taste of The Gulf Coast Good Life (Grand Central Life & Style; April 2016) by Lucy Buffett
Makes: 25 Cups
3 pounds medium shrimp, heads on
2 pounds claw crabmeat, picked for shells
4 crab bodies, if available
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped in their juice
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
1 medium head celery, coarsely chopped including leaves
2 ½ pounds okra, fresh if available, cut in ¼-inch pieces, or frozen cut okra, thawed
¾ cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups shrimp or seafood stock, heated
2-3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons LuLu's Crazy Creola Seasoning™ (recipe below)
2-3 tablespoons LuLu's Perfect Pepper Hot Sauce™
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups green onions, finely chopped
½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
LuLu's Crazy Creola Seasoning™ Recipe:
Makes: 1/2 Cup
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
4 teaspoons granulated onion
¼ cup paprika
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container.
To make the Gumbo:
Dehead, peel, and devein shrimp. Reserve heads and shells for later use. Pick through crabmeat carefully for shells. Refrigerate shrimp and crab until ready for use.
Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Drop tomatoes carefully into boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool. Skins will slip off easily. Remove cores and coarsely chop tomatoes over a bowl to retain as much juice as possible. Set aside. (If using canned tomatoes, I cut them up in eights.)
Place chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, and okra in separate bowls. Set aside.
To make the roux, heat vegetable oil or bacon grease in a 10-quart heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, gradually add flour, whisking continuously. Continue to whisk roux , adjusting heat as necessary to keep from burning. This may take 25-35 minutes or until your arm feels like it is about to fall off and the roux is a dark mahogany color. Be careful; if the roux burns, you will have to start all over again!
Carefully add chopped onions to roux and continue stirring with a large wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes. Onions will sizzle and steam when they hit the hot roux so caution is advised. Seasoned gumbo cooks have roux battle scars on one or both arms.
Add bell peppers and continue stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes; add celery continue to stir constantly for another 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture should now resemble a pot of black beans.
Add tomatoes and stir well.
Slowly add the heated stock.
Add salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, basil, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Bring gumbo to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour.
Add okra and bring back to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat again to maintain a slow simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or a day (until okra has lost its bright green color and is cooked down like the other vegetables). If gumbo gets too thick, add a little water. If too thin, continue to simmer uncovered.
At this point, you can cool the gumbo. It's always better the day after it has been cooked, although I've never had a complaint when I served gumbo the day I made it. Remove from heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then place pot, uncovered, in an empty sink. Fill the sink with water and ice around the stockpot. Stir gumbo every 15 minutes to move the liquid to facilitate cooling. Gumbo will spoil if cooled improperly. (At the restaurant, we have cooling cylinders that look like baseball bats that are frozen and placed in the middle of five-gallon stockpots.) When completely cool, refrigerate it, uncovered, for a couple of hours before placing it in an airtight container.
Reheat gumbo slowly to simmering. Thirty minutes before serving, add green onions, parsley, and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add shrimp and crabmeat. Mix well. Cover and turn off heat. Let sit for at least another 15 minutes while seafood cooks. It will stay hot for a long time. Adjust seasonings and serve over cooked white rice with French bread and butter.