Even though ESPN's headquarters are based in Connecticut, I spend so much time at work with people from down south. I have so many friends and co-workers from the slew of states, including Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana. I've always wanted to travel and eat my way through the states, but when I had the opportunity to dive into the goodness of Atlanta, I caved and ended up eating Chick-Fil-A three times a day for three days. Can you blame me though? They make chicken acceptable to eat for breakfast.
Anyway, gumbo is a dish whose authentic form I hope to experience one day. But as I sit up here, typing in the middle of a New England snowstorm, I figure out how to bring flavors together that I love, while keeping the integrity of a gumbo.
What gives this recipe New York flair + hipster concerns, is the swap for chicken to spinach. When I was researching the recipe, my goal was to elevate the dish in a way that would bring more health without sacrificing flavor. Out of the classic sausage, chicken, shrimp combination, the chicken felt the easiest to replace. It's one of those meats that takes on the flavor of its counterparts, and it felt unnecessary in this batch. I also swapped the butter for Earth Balance original buttery spread because I'm always finding substitutes for dairy. And guess what, it mother effing worked perfectly. Lastly, no beef stock here. Between the sausage and the shrimp, I felt that vegetable stock was a better alternative because I wanted to integrate a lightness to the recipe that my southern friends might kill me for.
Have no fear guys, there's still a shit ton of okra in this gumbo.
New York Hipster Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo
Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 3 hours | Yield: 5 servings
1 lb grass-fed beef or pork sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 lb wild-caught small shrimp, cooked
3 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups sliced frozen okra
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 + 1 tbsp pasture butter
4 cups fresh spinach
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped + more for garnish
Sliced green onion for garnish
Brown sausage in dutch oven or medium-sized pot with oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove sausage from pot and place in a bowl.
Lower the heat to medium and stir in Earth Balance and flour until combined, about 5 minutes.
Add celery, onion and pepper, and cook until onions are translucent and celery is soft.
Pour in the stock and scratch the bottom of the pot. (This is deglazing, which picks back up the flavor from the sausage fat.) Add in the tomatoes, cooked sausage, 1 tsp salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add in the frozen okra, remaining salt, and parsley. Cover again and cook for 1 hour.
Stir in shrimp and spinach just before finished cooking. Top with green onion, more parsley, and rice.