Though my great-grandmother perfected it, this seafood gumbo recipe originated with her mother and has been passed down through the women of my family for five generations. Making my Great-Grandmother's gumbo recipe is a rite of passage for cooks in our family and symbolizes the value she placed on celebrating the natural resources of her home near Mobile, Alabama.
As you will see, some measurements below are not precise. This is because in some instances, you use the seafood you have on hand and in others, you may not need the full amount of flour to thicken the roux. Forgive me for repeating a recipe-reader’s least favorite phrase: You just have to eyeball it.
For the roux: This roux should be a deep chocolate brown, like a Hershey’s bar. Try and get it as dark as you can. While most of the secrets of the gumbo are wrapped up in making the roux, I can give one hint: Add 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar to the roux just as you think it’s nearly done. Stir as if your life depended on it and get it off the fire quickly so it can stop cooking. I’d never heard of anyone adding sugar to a roux, but as my Aunt Judy says, “Any good gumbo cook would know that.” —Catherine Robertson
So I did not need 2 gallons of gumbo, so I made 1/8 of this recipe (but with 1 crab and 1 tbsp of old bay rather than the crab boil mix (a bag is 3 ozs, so I was going for ~10g and it took 1 tbsp)) and it worked quite nicely for a more reasonable amount of gumbo. It's not totally clear if the crabs in the stock are supposed to be the ones for the meat, but I don't think so. I think it's just meat and a crab in the gumbo. It's good but I think the most important thing is to add time to the roux making. It takes a long time to make the roux—about 25 minutes of stirring. I had the pot covered during all this time. —Stephanie Bourgeois