Big Mama is a GIANT in the history and world of Southern Cuisine.
If you haven’t heard of her, Big Mama is a grey haired, grey skinned, near toothless older black woman, and she is a legend in the South.
Her food – collard greens with ham hocks, black eyed peas with ham hocks, butter beans with ham hocks, pinto beans with ham hocks, fried chicken, fried okra, fried squash, fried turkey, fried catfish, fried oysters, fried calf fries (i.e. testicles), fried mountain oysters (pig testicles), chicken fried steak, sausage gravy, red eye gravy, and so on – is legendary, too.
None of these traditional, heart plugging, bottom expanding, historically Southern culinary delights is more famous than her world-renowned New Orleans Style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo.
Big Mama’s gumbo is the sort that truly masculine Real American Men and authentic All-American She-Women from all walks of life and from all over the world truly enjoy.
Its hardy, it’s hot, it’s filling, and it’s not unwomanly or unmanly by any means. Big Mama normally prepares it once a year for Mardi Gras, and serves it only to her most manly and womanly and American of clientele –falling down drunk American street cops.
She wanders the streets of New Orleans during the Mardi Gras festival and finds these men and women staggering about the town, drunk, incoherent, disheveled, and lurching from lamp post to lamp post in search of stable soil or sidewalk to stand on – soil or sidewalk that isn’t shifting up and down and from side to side like the deck of a storm-tossed ship, adrift in a toxic alcoholic maelstrom from hell.
She takes them into her protective custody and nurtures them back to coherence and sobriety, and feeds them sustenance in the form of this gumbo – a True Gumbo, a Genuine New Orleans style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo – that will never see the light of day in places like the traditionally deviant Oprah Show, degenerate cable TV cooking shows hosted by borderline obese white women, or felons – much less any of the alternate lifestyle dining establishments along King Street in Olde Towne, Alexandria, Virginia.
Mama let me, The Storyteller, a humble spinner of tall tales and scribe of misconstrued American history, watch while she conjured up this olla podrida, this aromatic ragout of Neptunian culinary delight. And I, The Storyteller, wrote it all down.
Best of all, I am now bringing her secret recipe to you! What’s more, this recipe is available ONLY here!
It is with Big Mama’s special permission that I share it with you.
Full of shellfish, lots of okra, and other things that are good, loaded down with crab, a few (hundred) pounds of crawfish, and with the incorporation of duck, this gumbo is an epic tale of a gastronomical Odyssey, journeying from one taste to another with every bite.
Like any good gumbo, this one requires you to make a roux. For more info on this miracle of many a sauce, gravy and stew, check out this post, or this one.
Bon appetite, y’all!
- Roast pork drippings
- Roast duck drippings
- 4 tablespoons all purpose flour 5 or 6 if you want a dark roux
- 1 medium yellow onion or Spanish onion
- 3 8 inch Anaheim chilies you can toss in one or two Chile Poblano, if you like-NO BELL PEPPERS
- 5 or 6 large tomatoes cut into 8ths
- 8 cloves garlic chopped
- 8 oz small portobello mushrooms
- 1 cup celery sliced
- 1/2 cup celery leaves chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley but not too finely
- 1/2 pound sliced okra a bunch of okra the size of your little finger is okay, too
- 1/3 pound clam flesh you can toss in a few cherrystone clams still in the shell, too
- 1/3 pound oysters if you’re so inclined - not everyone is
- 1/3 pound sliced squid or a handful of baby squid
- 1/3 pound baby octopus cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/3 pound scallops cut the large ones into 3 or 4 pieces
- 3/4 pound medium peeled shrimp
- 1/2 pound pieces of lobster tail
- 1/2 pound pieces of crab If you have a big enough pot, you can toss in some live whole crabs
- 1/4 pound mussels
- 3/4 pound sliced fish Croaker is good, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/3 pound sliced Tasso ham Or something like Smithfield Country ham, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 pound sliced smoked Andouille alligator sausage cut into ¾” pieces - Italian sausage is okay if you can’t get it
- 1/2 roast duck cut it into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon black pepper or a few peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons Zatarain’s Seafood Seasoning or Old Bay Seasoning if you can't find it
- 3 or 4 bay leaves
- Roast a couple of pork shoulders and save the drippings. You should have at least a cup and a half between the fat and the other fluids. Take the flesh from the bones and give those to your dog. Do something with the pork roast. You won’t need it for the gumbo. If you don’t want to roast the pork shoulders specially for this gumbo, simply store up the drippings from those that you do cook, in the freezer in an airtight container until you need it.
- Roast a duck and save the drippings. A 7-pound duck will produce about a cup or more of fat. Take the skin off the duck and give it to your dog. Pull the flesh off the bones. Be sure to season it properly with salt, garlic, and black pepper. No MSG needed!
- Saute the onion, chilies, mushrooms, garlic, and celery in the pork fat. Toss everything but the duck fat and flour into a big pot. Fill with water to cover the contents. Bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour or so.
- Taste it. You might want to add some more Zatarain’s or garlic, etc. Brown the flour in the duck fat. This is the roux. The okra will thicken the gumbo, but the roux will thicken it, too. You can increase or decrease the amount of flour to your preference. The darker the roux (meaning the longer and darker you brown the flour), the thinner it will be. Big Mama prefers a dark roux. Mix the roux into the gumbo.
- Cook for another hour or so . Once you add the roux, it will be more susceptible to burning, so stir it occasionally. Serve with white rice. Not brown rice. Not Jasmine rice. Not basmati rice. Use plain, long grain steamed rice. It’s okay to use Uncle Ben’s.
True Americans may enjoy this truly American Gumbo with Nando’s Extra Hot Peri Peri Sauce from South Africa. This stuff is pretty good.
Another good hot sauce is Melinda's Naga Jolokia Sauce from India. The other name for “Naga Jolokis” is the “Ghost Chili.” Fiery and smokin’ is a good way of describing this liquid heat.
Ground red pepper is good, too.
8 thoughts on “Big Mama’s New Orleans Style Cosmopolitan Seafood Gumbo”
You had me laughing with that intro–not Southern enough? Add a ham hock! 😛
I must admit that I was mixed up on my culinary names for testicles (I hope I never have to say that sentence again), I was always taught that Rocky Mountain Oysters were a bull’s bullocks. Either way, not high on my list :s
However this gumbo looks AMAZING. I can’t wait to attempt this for dinner! Thanks for posting 😀
LOL @ your intro! There is always something in your posts that make me laugh and I love it! 🙂 I love that I have come across this post as I am not a seafood eater but my mother loves it and I promised her I would make her something for her birthday and I had no clue what until I came across this! I think she is going to love this she loves visiting New Orleans and I have a feeling she is going to be begging me for the recipe after this one! Thanks for the post!
I’ve read this recipe about five times and I can’t wait to try it. The more I read the more simple it seems. I think the gumbo flavors build up as you go. This is one I will try soon!
The whole article had me dropping all that i was doing …so as to be attentive…i ‘ve just had an amazing movie scene right in front of me from reading the article..extremely captivating and awesome…as for the presentation…”mouthwatering” is all i can utter!…and yes the recipe is safely kept for use in the near future 🙂
The story is great, I could Big Mana in my minds eye looking for drunks to feed her Gumbo to. The photo looks so good I can hardly wait to get started making my own.
This sooks great but I bet it costs quite a lot to make – there’s a whole load of seafood in there. Maybe it’s something to cook when I’m feeling a little more extravagant!
That’s so cool that you’re able to generate flavor so quickly. I hear that most chefs usually take a whole day to make good gumbo.
Thank you so much for sharing this secret recipe with us. I love to collect recipes like this, that you cannot find anywhere else. This is some of the most delicious comfort food that my whole family can enjoy. I will get them all involved when we cook it.