Gumbo for The King Holiday…

I’ll be serving my delicious Gumbo in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday today! In our household, it’s a day of reflection and gratitude celebrating MLK Day!  It’s also, a time that we educate our children on the progress and struggles of our ancestors. Martin Luther King Jr. had a “Dream” and it’s our job to keep the movement of equality moving for the next generation, so that at some point, the color of our skin doesn’t matter!

MLK loved soul food, so in honor of his life legacy I’m making my down south Gumbo! A good pot of Gumbo is good for your soul. All the yummy spices and seafood remind me why I love to cook so much.  It’s starts with the “roux” as the foundation and you build it up with all the ingredients.  Maybe the reason why I like to make Gumbo at the beginning of the year is it reminds me of building something new, just like the beginning of a new year.  You start with a strong foundation and begin to build what you think you need to improve on.  Like Gumbo, it all starts with a good foundation! Of course a special meal goes with reflecting and honoring all the amazingly brave people that gave up their lives so that we of color could have a better chance for equality.

If you haven’t seen the movie Selma, do yourself a favor and go see it! Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Selma isn’t the story of a man but of a movement, and of a very specific turning point within that movement.

The King Holiday is a time when the nation pauses to remember Dr. King’s life and work, but also to honor his legacy by making the holiday a day of community service, “a day on, not a day off.”

I’m personally reflecting on what more I and my family can do to help our community?

Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for all your sacrifices and service that moved our people forward…


Ali in the Valley

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Gumbo for The King Holiday…



  1. 1½ cups Medium Dark Roux (see “How To Roux,” recipe follows)

  2. 2 cups diced onions

  3. 1 cup diced celery

  4. 1 cup diced green bell pepper

  5. 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  6. 2 quarts shrimp (crab or chicken stock)

  7. 1 pound andouille sausage (sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds, browned in a skillet, and drained on paper towels)

  8. 2 bay leaves

  9. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  10. Dash hot sauce

  11. ¼ teaspoon cayenne

  12. 1½ teaspoons salt

  13. ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  14. 2 pounds medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)

  15. 1 teaspoon Essence (recipe follows)

  16. ½ pound crab legs

  17. 12 fresh oysters and juices from jar (2 (optional))

  18. ⅓ cup green onion tops (chopped)

  19. ½ cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves

  20. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

  21. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

  22. ½ cup file powder (or to taste)

  23. Steamed white rice (for serving)

  24. <strong> Roux Ingredients:</strong>

  25. 3 cups vegetable oil

  26. 5 cups all-purpose flour

  27. <strong> ESSENCE Creole Seasoning Ingredients:</strong>

  28. 2½ tablespoons paprika

  29. 2 tablespoons salt

  30. 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  31. 1 tablespoon black pepper

  32. 1 tablespoon onion powder

  33. 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  34. 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  35. 1 tablespoon dried thyme

  36. <strong>Shrimp Stock Ingredients:</strong>

  37. All shrimp and lobster shells

  38. 1 bay leaf

  39. 1 package of Zatarain’s Crawfish and Shrimp Crab Boil

  40. 1 lemon cut in quarters

  41. 1 tbs Salt

  42. Water to cover all ingredients


  1. Directions:

  2. Heat the roux in a medium-sized heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and bell pepper. Stir mixture until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the browned sausage, bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

  3. Bring gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until gumbo is slightly reduced, about 50 minutes. (Gumbo should cook long enough for the roux flavor to mellow and for any floury taste to dissipate.)

  4. Season the shrimp with the Essence in a small bowl. Stir in the seasoned shrimp, crab legs, oysters, green onions, parsley, thyme and basil. Cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Sprinkle in file powder and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more, or pass file at the table for guests to thicken as desired. Remove bay leaves before serving.

  5. Serve in warmed soup bowls over steamed white rice.

  6. How to make Roux:

  7. Place a heavy, iron Dutch oven, (or iron skillet with deep sides) over medium heat and heat the oil until just smoking. Whisk in flour, a little at a time and cook, whisking constantly, until roux becomes smooth and thick. Continue to cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon and reaching all over bottom of pan, until roux darkens to desired color. Be careful not to produce specs of black. The roux must remain an even color throughout process. If specs appear you must start over. For a Light Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for 1½ hours, or until the color of peanut butter. For a Medium Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the color of a copper penny when ready.

  8. How to make ESSENCE Creole Seasoning:

  9. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. (Keep left over for future use)

  10. How to make Shrimp Stock:

  11. Combine all shells and the above ingredients in stockpot add 4 quarts water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim to remove any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce to heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove stock from heat and strain. Use only the liquid in the Gumbo. Discard shells!

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