the appetizer:

Restauranteur Ralph Brennan demystifies fish and shellfish in his New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, with recipes like Barbecue Shrimp; Seafood and Okra Gumbo with Alligator Sausage; Creole Seasoning; and Crab Stock; plus a short excerpt on Alligator, Frog Legs and Turtle.



Seafood and Okra Gumbo
with Alligator Sausage

For 14 appetizer servings or 7 main-dish servings

Seafood and Okra Gumbo


In the world of gumbos, there are few diehard rules. The only inviolable one is that the gumbo taste good. While this one does bow to tradition with okra as an ingredient, it also strays from the traditional path in calling for alligator sausage (although smoked pork sausages can be substituted).

Alligators, which are legal game in Louisiana, are harvested for their hides as well as their meat. The tail is the edible part, and its subtle flavor might be compared to white meat of chicken or white veal.


This gumbo is especially good when made a day ahead to allow the flavors to marry.

The color of the roux in this recipe is keyed to the color chart on page 415 of the book.

Advance Steps

Prepare the following recipes:

Special Equipment

  • A heavy 10-inch skillet
  • A long-handled metal whisk or wooden spoon
  • A heavy 8-quart saucepan or Dutch oven
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped green sweet peppers
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced celery
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 2 cups chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound alligator sausage, cut in half-inch slices*
  • 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 1 rounded tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 10 cups crab stock, preferred, or seafood stock**
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves
  • 2 cups trimmed and sliced okra, fresh (preferred) or frozen
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce, optional
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Crystal brand pepper sauce,
         or other relatively mild pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus to taste
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled with tails removed
  • 1/2 pound crab claw meat, picked through
  • 3/4 pound shucked oysters, not drained
  • Thinly sliced green onions (green parts only), for garnish
  • Cooked long-grain white rice, for serving
  • Hot or mild pepper sauce, for the table
  • Saltine crackers or crusty French bread, for the table

*If this ingredient is difficult to find where you live, see Ingredient Sources on page 424 of the book. Also, andouille or other smoked pork sausage may be substituted for the alligator sausage. Also see Ingredient Sources for andouille.
**A high-quality, low-sodium, store-bought seafood stock may be used, although freshly made stock is preferred.


1. For the roux, in a heavy 10-inch skillet combine the oil and flour. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook for three minutes, mixing constantly and thoroughly with a long-handled metal whisk or a wooden spoon until smooth.

2. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking the roux, whisking or stirring constantly so it doesn't scorch, until it turns a peanut-butter brown, about nine minutes. Remove from heat and continue whisking constantly until the roux stops getting darker, about three minutes. Set aside.

3. In a heavy 8-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to turn golden brown (the color of a pumpkin-pie filling), about one minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the onions, sweet peppers, celery, and bay leaves and cook and stir for one minute.

4. Add the tomatoes, sausage, Creole seasoning, and thyme to the pan, stirring well. Cook until all the vegetables are tender, about five minutes, occasionally stirring and scraping the pan bottom clean.

5. Stir in the stock and parsley, mixing well, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Gradually add the reserved roux, stirring constantly until all the roux is thoroughly blended in.

7. Stir in the okra, worcestershire, the 1-1/2 tablespoons mildly hot pepper sauce, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you're making the gumbo ahead, which is preferable, let it cool at this point, then cover and refrigerate it until it is time to reheat and proceed with the recipe.

8. Next, stir in the shrimp and crabmeat and let the shrimp cook about half way, about two minutes. Do not overcook the shrimp.

9. Add the oysters and bring to a boil, skimming any foam. Continue cooking just until the oysters are plump and their edges curl, one to two minutes more. Remove from heat. Season the gumbo with more kosher salt and pepper if needed.

Serving Suggestions: If prepared ahead, which is preferable, do not add more salt and pepper at this time. Instead, let the gumbo cool down and refrigerate in a covered container. Just before serving, reheat until all the ingredients are just hot so the seafood doesn't overcook, then season with more kosher salt and pepper if needed.

If serving immediately, season the gumbo with more kosher salt and pepper to taste before dishing out.

Serve the gumbo, garnished with a light sprinkle of green onions, in heated cups or bowls over rice, or pass the rice at the table, along with hot or mildly hot pepper sauce and saltine crackers or crusty French bread.

  • from:
  • Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook
  • by Ralph Brennan with Gene Bourg
  • Photography by Kerri McCaffety
  • Vissi d'Arte Books, 2008
  • $45.00/hardcover; Full color photographs
  • ISBN-10: 0970933681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-9709336-8-3
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

New Orleans Seafood Cookbook


This page created April 2008

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