New Orleans cooking enjoys the influence of many different cultural groups, including
African and native Choctaw populations. Gumbo is traditionally thickened with okra,
and the name comes from the African word for okra: "gombo." This recipe
adds file powder (made from sassafras leaves), just as the Choctaw seasoned their
stew; you can find file powder at many groceries or ethnic food stores.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken broth (canned or from bouillon)
2 cups water
2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes
2 cups sliced okra (fresh or
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
Salt and pepper, to taste
cup peeled, cooked shrimp (bite-size pieces)
6 crab claws
2 tablespoons file
6 cups cooked white rice
In a cast-iron Dutch oven, combine oil and flour over medium-low heat. Reduce
heat to low as flour begins to brown. Brown until the color of a penny, or darker.
Add chopped onions, celery and garlic and cook until onions become transparent.
Add broth while stirring.
Add water, tomatoes, okra, chicken, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce
Cook 2 to 3 hours or until tomatoes and okra come to pieces.
Add shrimp, crab claws and file powder 10 to 15 minutes before serving.